Photos courtesy: WWE
It wasn’t too long ago that John Cena was almost unanimously hated by the over 15s that make up the WWE audience. His pandering to the kids who are also a large part of the fan base and his lack of innovation in the ring really drew the ire of the 18-34 male demographic who watched the show. Fast forward to today and you will be hard pressed to find someone who still hates Cena, but what has changed?
A little while ago, I wrote an article that suggested John Cena’s time was up now that he had become United States Champion and to be honest, who could blame me? That championship had lowered the stock of every professional wrestler who held it, no matter for how small of a time; Dean Ambrose was criticised for barely defending it, Sheamus found himself thrown deep into the middle of the card when he was a former world champion and let’s not even go into the likes of Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger, Santino Marella and Zack Ryder. To Cena’s credit, he has taken what could potentially be one sign of him being in the twilight of his career and turned it into a positive.
Since he beat Rusev for the title at WrestleMania, he was initially seen in a bad light as Rusev’s strength in the eyes of the fans fell pretty quickly, as had a fair few superstars who had faced Cena in recent years. Once the unbeaten streak of Rusev broke, so did the love between him and his manager Lana, and both are currently embroiled in the worst storyline running currently (and yes, I am including the battle between King Barrett and King What’s Up.), but that feud is long behind Cena now, who is in the midst of a heated rivalry with former NXT Champion Kevin Owens.
After winning the title, Cena dedicated himself to becoming the best fighting champion that he could, and issued an open challenge every week on Monday Night RAW. Every week we would see talented mid-carders come out and challenge the face of the company, and while Cena has emerged victorious every single time, the audience has seen some hotly contested battles, some match of the year candidates and a different side of Cena that not many people knew was there.
In matches against the likes of Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Neville and Cesaro, we have seen a completely new move set from the 15 time world champion. Moves like sit-out powerbombs, face busters, hurricanranas, tornado DDTs and the now patented springboard stunner have left the crowd in awe of what Cena is actually capable of once given a little creative freedom.
If you rewind even by three years, you would have seen any of this wide selection of talent who has faced him for the US Championship decimated in under five minutes by somebody who didn’t seem to care too much about variety, but came out and did his same old schtick, before doing his famous “five moves of doom” while on his way to victory. In the present day though, this is not the case; recently, Cena faced Cesaro in a hard fought battle where both combatants left everything on the line and there were several times where it looked like Cesaro had Cena’s number. This match went on for almost half an hour to close RAW and it is hotly tipped to be one of the Match of the Year candidates.
Another impressive facet that Cena has shown is that he is now not afraid to put younger talent over. In Kevin Owens’ first official WWE match, he beat Cena clean in the middle of the ring in a non-title match. Fast forward a couple of months and the cocky Owens has now lost his NXT title and needs to replace it with Cena’s United States Championship when the two face at WWE Battleground on Sunday 19th July. This will be the pair’s rubber match as Cena picked up the “w” against Owens when the pair exchanged blows at last month’s Money In The Bank pay per view.
If Cena keeps going on the path he is, you may just find that the next time you attend a WWE event, it might be considered cooler to join the “Let’s Go Cena” section of the chanting.
Video courtesy: WWE
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