Love him or hate him, itâ€™s the truth. Heâ€™s won 10 WWE Championships, starred in movies, launched records up the Billboard charts and sold more T-shirts than Fruit of the Loom. But, despite all that, the Cenation leader still looked like a second banana standing next to The Rock in the main event of Survivor Series.
It wasnâ€™t that the West Newbury, Mass., native didnâ€™t appear physically intimidating or technically devastating, because he did. He just looked . . . secondary. Overshadowed by a Superstar so charismatic that heâ€™s been dubbed The Most Electrifying Man in All of Entertainment, the hardworking competitor had trouble shaking off the New York City crowdâ€™s deafening jeers with his trademark smile and shrug.
In the thick of that match, John Cena was being shown up at the one thing he does best in this world and the crowd knew it, The Rock knew it and Cena himself knew it. And it didnâ€™t look good.
Keep in mind, this was all before The Peopleâ€™s Champion drilled his WrestleMania XXVIII opponent into the canvas with a thunderous Rock Bottom much to the delight of the Madison Square Garden faithful. His team may have won the match, but Cena definitely left Manhattan feeling like a loser.
Maybe thatâ€™s why WWE fans in Hershey, Pa., greeted Cena with a chorus of boos the following night on WWE Raw SuperShow. Obviously, itâ€™s not the first time the Cenation leader has heard a few heckles. Opinionated members of the WWE Universe have been taunting the powerful Superstar ever since he hoisted his first WWE Title over his head â€” but this was different. The audience seemed to have lost confidence in their grinning hero and thatâ€™s because Cena chose to stand next to The Great One at Survivor Series in order to make it clear that heÂ canÂ stand next to him. Instead, he convinced everyone that the exact opposite was true.
Five months from his epic encounter with The Peopleâ€™s Champion on The Grandest Stage of Them All, Cena is already losing support and he needs to change that. Of course, more aggressive WWE fans would love to see him grow a weird beard and go all nWo on everyone, but Cenaâ€™s not about to do that. The guy has too many people looking up to him to suddenly become a spray paint can wielding coward â€” but he does need to rediscover his edge.
The problem is this: when youâ€™re as superhumanly strong and effortlessly charismatic as John Cena, itâ€™s easy to take your powers for granted. Even on a bad day, the one-time hip-hop head has been able to outmaneuver the roughest of his generation. But, suddenly, heâ€™s being visited by a ghost of sports-entertainmentâ€™s greatest era come to life in the form of a legitimate Hollywood movie star with the type of physique they used to advertise in the back of comic books. Itâ€™s next level stuff â€” like fighting through the palookas in Nintendoâ€™s â€œPunch-Out!!â€ only to come glove-to-glove with Mike Tyson. No matter how many times you KO Soda Popinski, it doesnâ€™t make facing â€œIron Mikeâ€ any easier.
So, before he heads to Miami for the biggest bout of his career, Cena needs to step his game up. To combat The Great Oneâ€™s charisma, he has to bring back the suggestive rhymes that helped him turn heads during his days as The Doctor of Thuganomics. Itâ€™s no surprise that one of the biggest ovations Cenaâ€™s received in recent years came when he performed a scathing freestyle directed at The Rock. And the relaxed jocularity that helped him sail through rivalries with The Miz and Alberto Del Rio needs to be replaced with focus â€” the type of two-a-day determination that took Cena from the greasy bodybuilding gyms of L.A. to the biggest arenas in the world. This stuff is serious and he needs to recognize that.
Maybe then John Cena will be ready to become more than just the biggest WWE Superstar of his generation.