What’s up? It’s time for the latest edition of “From Across the Pond” with yours truly. Thanks for the feedback on last week’s column. That’s why I keep writing. If it wasn’t for your interaction, I wouldn’t be doing this. It’s appreciated!
This week, I wanted to talk about John Cena and the latest comments from some ex-WWE stars about the man himself, his character and the way he works in the ring. These comments might just be from bitter former talents, or there could be some truth in it. This is gonna be a little bit different for me. Normally, I’d be kicking off and saying how I hate John Cena’s character, but you guys probably already know that I’m not his biggest fan. I never have been and I probably never will be. Here’s a quick recap for those of you who’ve no idea about why I dislike John Cena’s in-ring character.
I think his gimmick is stale. His mic work is average at best when he’s not in there with Punk or Rock. I think he’s booked like Superman and his clean-loss record over the last five years is shocking (only HBK and Rock have beaten him clean). The way he’s booked buries his opponents before the feud gets anywhere because you know he’ll win and won’t sell an ass-kicking. Has Cena had great matches? Yes, but only when he’s in there with someone who can work a match (like HHH, HBK, Punk, Jericho etc). He doesn’t do it often enough and it pisses people off, because they know he can do it. Making Cena look vulnerable every so often would make it mean more when he does the big comeback. I know Hogan did the same thing in the WWE during his prime (early 80’s until 1993/4), but here’s my response to that. Hogan wasn’t on TV every week, or on PPV every month doing the same thing. At this point, being John Cena means more than being the WWE Champion and that’s a sad state of affairs, but that’s just my opinion. I don’t doubt the fact he works hard for the company in and out of the ring, but we’ve been force-fed the same thing for years. The people that hate Cena don’t necessarily want a full-blown heel-turn, but we’d settle for something different to what we’ve had up until now. That’s all. Make it fresh. Please? Thanks.
OK, so let’s get to this week’s topic about the latest comments from ex-WWE stars about John Cena. I suppose this all kicked off when former Spirit Squad member Kenn Doane made some allegations about Cena after his wife filed for divorce. Doane claims that Cena and Doane’s ex, Mickie James, had an affair when all 3 of them were contracted to WWE and that it had a part to play in how their careers have panned out.
In an interview with sescoops.com a few weeks ago, Doane said:
“I get jobbed out then they take me off the road more and fire me. When Johnny Ace called me to fire me, I asked him if this is why I’m getting fired. He told me ‘We don’t have anything for you and depending on whether you choose to discuss this issue will determine on if you’re allowed to come back in the future (so basically if I mention Cena and Mickie, then I’m banned)… I go back everytime they’re in my area and they always say the same thing (we like you, we’ll call you in a week) then never call me at all… Let’s go back a little bit shall we? So now I’m gone from WWE and Mickie and Cena are banging full time… Mickie becomes champ, gets TV roles and gets attached too. John… breaks it off for whatever reason and Mickie flips out, cries all over backstage… and it looks really bad. She now loses her title and jobs out and becomes Piggy James, then gets fired… When I was there in November, I was actually excited to talk with John and I wanted to bury this. He walked by and I put my hand out and said ‘Hey, you got a minute?’. He didn’t shake my hand and said ‘for you, absolutely not’”
Now, one side of the story is that, yeah Ken Doane may be bitter about the way his relationship with Mickie ended and the fact that he ended up losing his job. You could also argue that Doane only brought this stuff up because he wanted to capitalise on the press coverage of the breakdown of Cena’s marriage. The other side is that if Cena is responsible and he’s acted the way Doane says, he sounds like a douchebag. Acting high and mighty like he’s untouchable. If John did behave like that, then there are two people to blame: Vince McMahon and John Cena. Cena for believing his own hype and McMahon for creating the ego in the first place.
The next few ex-WWE stars with something to say about John Cena were Michael Tarver, George “The Animal” Steele and Chris Masters, who spoke with Robert & Kenny from the Inside the Ropes podcast. (On a side note, subscribe to their podcast. There’s a great mix of interviews, news, reviews and everyone’s favourite segment, Spazamania! Subscribe here or listen to the show live in the UK every Thursday night on www.strathclydefusion.com at 10pm. Hope the cheque’s in the post lads! Haha..)
Kenny asked George Steele about whether or not he thought Cena was a good choice to be the face of the WWE. Steele replied:
“I have seen hundreds of John Cena’s. Nothing special about him really. What’s special about John Cena? Stop and think about it. We’ve had some other guys that weren’t real special that were champions. What else are you gonna do with them? In every match, he looks the same. To me, guys like him are not special, but that’s just me and I’ve always felt that way about a lot of wrestlers.”
The key thing about Steele’s comment is that he’s got nothing to lose by saying that. He’s not under contract to the WWE. He’s appeared on WWE TV once in the last 20 years or so, and he’s effectively a fan watching the product who feels the same way that a lot of fans do about John Cena. Again, I’ll try and balance it by saying that Cena goes in, does what he’s asked to and leaves. Whether or not he could do it better on a more consistent basis, only John knows the answer to that question.
Michael Tarver, formerly of Nexus fame, told Inside the Ropes that he was disappointed with the outcome of the Summerslam 2010 main event (Team WWE vs Nexus):
“We (The Nexus) were very, very disappointed and I think that John Cena taking a DDT on the concrete and coming back like Superman will live in infamy forever… If the Nexus had’ve won at Summerslam, it could’ve made a huge difference in the landscape of the industry now…”
He was also asked what it was like working with John Cena. Tarver replied:
“Hahaha.. That’s a very interesting question. It’s a two-fold experience. Professionally, it’s like being on court with LeBron James or Kobe Bryant. It’s an amazing experience that I’m very grateful for… He commands the audience. Personally, I don’t really care for John Cena. I’d say that to him if I saw him personally. I have told him that. I’ve shaken his hand backstage and said ‘I don’t like you and you probably don’t like me’ and it was a pleasant conversation. Him and I have had our issues… Some personalities don’t click. You have an alpha-male like John Cena who’s used to being king of the hill and someone like me, who’s a fearless, buck-the-system kind of guy who doesn’t like being bullied, you know, I’m not a sheep.
A lot of WWE talent walk around backstage like sheep, scared to crack an egg and I personally don’t do that. It was hard for me balancing my personality. The way I am as a man and balancing things so I could keep my job. You’re afraid of losing your job… I was never disrespectful. I tried to always be respectful to him and impress him. To show him I was hungry… You can do the same thing someone else does and they don’t like the way you do it! There was no possible way I could get John Cena to like me for a few different reasons.”
Wow! That was a lot to cover. OK, so looking at it again, from Tarver’s PoV, it seems like he tried everything he did to impress John Cena and to earn his respect. From his comments to Inside the Ropes, it seems like Tarver is implying that Cena has bullied him. Again, we only have Tarver’s side because Cena can’t comment on things like that honestly (due to his WWE contract etc). If it’s true, it shows the same thing I was talking about earlier with the Ken Doane situation. Cena could come across like an asshole.
Balancing things again, you don’t have to like everyone you work with. I know I’ve worked in places where I couldn’t stand some of the people I worked with, because our personalities clashed. It didn’t stop me from being professional. As far as we can tell, there were no stiff shots exchanged between Cena and Tarver any time that they were in the ring together, so there’s professionalism there. However, if he’s bullying people when he’s meant to be a role model for kids, that’s something that needs to be addressed. The more these stories come out, it’s just adding fuel to the fire for those that don’t like John Cena. Just sayin’..
The last comments to Inside the Ropes came from “The Masterpiece” Chris Masters, who had this to say about working against Cena:
“At that time (late 2005/early 2006), man that guy had some heavy fists! You know, me and Carlito used to joke around in tag matches against John Cena and Shawn Michaels. For instance, in the Elimination Chamber, we both rushed for Shawn because he was easier to work with. Whoever got to Shawn first was left to Cena and we’re thinking ‘God, we’re gonna end up potatoing each other left and right’. At one point, I felt like I was in a real shoot fist-fight with him.”
It’s no surprise that some wrestlers work stiffer than others and are more hard-hitting than you’d think for something that non-wrestling fans call “fake”. I’ve never wrestled. I don’t have the bottle to, that’s why I respect everyone who does it, whether I like their character or not. If Cena’s working stiff, fine, no bother. If he’s genuinely fighting the guy, then that’s a problem.
Cena’s probably smoothed out a lot more in the ring since Masters worked with him, but Masters can only go on his own experience. It’s not wrong, but it might not be the same now. Could Chris Masters be bitter? Yeah, he might be. He had a monster push when he debuted, but it fizzled out and he was never taken seriously when he came back in 2009, despite the fact he’d improved a hell of a lot in the ring. He was having 10/15 minute matches on Superstars, working on his selling and in-ring work. Maybe someone else should work on that too, huh JC?
The last thing to consider about all these allegations is this: at one stage or another, Vince has fallen out with every single one of his top wrestlers and by top wrestlers I mean the face of the company. Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Kurt Angle and even Stone Cold Steve Austin have all been on bad terms with Vince at one time. I don’t see any reason why it won’t be the same with John Cena in the future.
I hope that this article came across as balanced, because to be honest, I’m sick and tired of ranting about John Cena. The comments from Ken Doane, George Steele, Michael Tarver and Chris Masters might be from bitter ex-WWE employees who aren’t the superstar that John Cena is, but there might also be some truth in there. The more that stories like this come out, it just gives the anti-Cena brigade more ammunition.
If you’ve got anything to add, then get in touch with me and leave a comment below and let me know what you think! I’ll be back next week with the latest edition of “From Across the Pond”, so until then, thanks for reading, have a great week and remember, subscribe to the Inside the Ropes podcast on iTunes!