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#21 Shining Wiz

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Posted 06 October 2014 - 08:33 PM

I could see myself being the high voter on Cena.  Yes he's had his bad matches, and yes he has his mechanical flaws, but he's had so many great big matches, and he's done it against a huge variety of opponents.  I could see him in my top thirty.

 
I'm 99.8% sure I'll have you beat there.
 
If I have Cena as low as Top 30 something will have gone horribly wrong.
 
I'd say there are fifteen to twenty guys I would absolutely have to rate over him.  After that?  I don't know.  To make this slightly more controversial, I'm not at all positive I would rate Bryan over him

I can see the argument, even if I'm not immediately persuaded. Cena's style is completely different than Bryan's, but if the goal is to put on enjoyable pro wrestling matches (and I'm pretty sure that's the goal), he's definitely in the conversation.

I haven't thought out beyond my knee jerk top five or so, but I wouldn't be surprised if I give you some competition for high ranking.

#22 Steenalized

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Posted 06 October 2014 - 09:26 PM

I've thought about lots of guys for this list and put a rough estimate on where I think I'd put them if the list were due today. Somehow I didn't think of Cena and now that I do, I'm not sure where I'll put him. High. Very high. Just how high he'll climb makes me curious. 



#23 Gus_McCrae

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Posted 07 October 2014 - 05:30 AM

Let me start this by saying I expect almost all of you have more experience and aptitude thinking critically about wrestling than I do. I've watched a ton, but never digested most of it to the level that I believe many if not all of you have.

Recently, I began thinking about what I think makes a good match. I came up with 5 criteria. In no particular order:
1) does it all is me to suspend disbelief
2) is it worked with intensity
3) does the outcome feel like it matters
4) does it effectively transition at 2nd or 3rd gear
5) does the match communicate a story

In my view, Cena as a worker is consistently off the charts at intensity and making a match feel like it matters but very uneven at getting the match to a higher level, or communicating a story. I. My view he is rather poor at making me suspend disbelief, which is a function largely of his poor punches, mechanical issues, and general "looseness" in the ring.

In some matches against some opponents his strengths combined with opponent strengths deliver excellant, wonderful matches. I'm thinking Cessaro, Umaga, Punk, Bryan off the top of my head, which I don't think I'm discounting.

What I'm struggling with is how do you rate a wrestler that highly with obvious flaws?
Am I exaggerating his flaws?
Do all wrestlers outside of the top dozen have such large weaknesses?

I'm trying to avoid the context issue here which I don't know how to reconcile. It's been touched on in other places, but Cena has probably been given more opportunity for big viewable main event style matches than anyone in history. That has led to both grandslams and strikeouts for him. It's the opposite of Dustin Rhodes, Steve Regal, Arn Anderson and their ilk.

I'd love some help thinking through these issues because it not obvious either what I'm missing or how to account for opportunity.

#24 Matt D

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Posted 07 October 2014 - 06:04 AM

Generally, context and selling over time. Pro wrestling is like any sort of fiction. It doesn't need to be real. It just needs to be consistent within its own universe. It has to follow its own rules. Obviously, when we're comparing wrestlers across styles, this may become a broader issue, but Cena's offense is presented a certain way, sold a certain way, and ultimately symbolic. The fans generally buy into it, even the jaded ones, because in the moment, they know it means something. 

 

Look at a match like Night of Champions 2012 - Cena vs Punk. Punk's whole gameplan is to do anything in the world to avoid Cena's offense. It worked for me because the offense has been so protected and built up over time, and because Punk was giving it so much reverence (while Cena was bringing a certain level of intensity and confidence in believing in it himself). 

 

In the end, it's going to be up to you. How something looks matters so much less than how it's used and what it means to me. I don't care how believable the special effects are in a movie that has a great plot and good acting. Other people feel differently. If you feel the way you do, that's fine. If you're just trying to understand how people can feel differently, that's fine too.



#25 GOTNW

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Posted 07 October 2014 - 06:01 PM

I tried to start a best of Cena project on a local board a few years ago and it was almost done.......almost. I think Cena's career has really had three phases-before his main event run, his proto main event run (2005-2007) and THE run. As such I will divide the matches we accumulated as well as add a couple of those that happened afterwards which I think are deserving and some that I had seen acclaimed but didn't necessarily enjoy myself. Dates are DD/MM/YY.

 

Pre 2005:

John Cena vs Chris Benoit-Smackdown 17.4.2003.

John Cena vs The Undertaker-Smackdown 7.8.2003.

John Cena vs Zach Gowen-Smackdown 14.8.2003.

John Cena vs Rey Mysterio-Smackdown 6.11.2003.

John Cena vs Brock Lesnar - Backlash 2003.

John Cena vs The Undertaker-WWE Vengeance 2003.

John Cena vs Jesus-Armageddon 2004.

John Cena vs Booker T-Summerslam 2004.

 

The Gowen and Jesus matches are squashes-but very entertaining ones. These will give you an idea of how early Cena worked.

 

2005-2007

John Cena vs Kurt Angle-No Way Out 2005.

John Cena vs JBL-Judgment Day Day 2005.

John Cena vs Chris Jericho-Summerslam 2005.

John Cena vs Edge-New Year's Revolution 2006.

John Cena vs Triple H vs Edge-WWE Backlash 2006.

John Cena vs RVD - One Night Stand 2006.

John Cena vs Sabu-Vengeance 2006.

John Cena vs Edge-Summerslam 2006.

John Cena vs Edge - Unforgiven 2006.

John Cena vs Umaga-New Year's Revolution 2007.

John Cena vs Umaga-Royal Rumble 2007.

John Cena vs Shawn Michaels-Wrestlemania 23

Cena vs Michaels vs Edge vs Orton - Backlash 2007.

John Cena vs The Great Khali-Judgment Day 2007.

John Cena vs The Great Khali-One Night Stand 2007.

John Cena vs Bobby Lashley - Great American Bash 2007.

John Cena vs Randy Orton-Summerslam 2007

John Cena vs Chris Jericho-Raw 22.8.2005.

John Cena vs Sabu-WWE vs ECW Head to Head 7.6.2006.

John Cena vs Rob Van Dam vs Edge-WWE Raw 3.7.2006.

John Cena vs Chris Benoit-Raw 19.3.2007.

John Cena vs Shawn Michaels-Raw 23.4.2007.

 

I rewatched the RVD match and it didn't do nothing for me. Without any emotional investment it is just an subpar match. The Edge matches are, uhm........Edge matches and I don't think very highly of them. Don't get the hype for the Khali matches but they didn't suck so that's something.

 

Now, true ace Cena, 2008-onwards:

John Cena vs Batista-SummerSlam 2008.

John Cena vs Chris Jericho-Survivor Series 2008.

John Cena vs Chris Jericho-Armageddon 2008.

John Cena vs Edge vs Big Show-Wrestlemania 25

John Cena vs Edge-Backlash 2009

John Cena vs Batista-Wrestlemania 26

John Cena vs The Miz vs John Morrison-Extreme Rules 2011.

John Cena vs CM Punk-Money In The Bank 2011.

John Cena vs CM Punk-SummerSlam 2011.

John Cena vs Alberto Del Rio- Vengeance 2011.

John Cena & The Rock vs. The Miz & R-Truth: Survivor Series 2011.

John Cena vs The Rock-Wrestlemania 28

John Cena vs Brock Lesnar - Extreme Rules 2012.

John Cena vs CM Punk-Night Of Champions 2012.

John Cena vs Dolph Ziggler-TLC 2012.

John Cena vs Mark Henry-MITB 2013.

John Cena vs Daniel Bryan-Summerslam 2013.

John Cena vs Alberto Del Rio-Hell In A Cell 2013.

John Cena vs Alberto Del Rio-Survivor Series 2013.

John Cena vs Bray Wyatt-Wrestlemania 30.

John Cena vs Brock Lesnar-Summerslam 2014.

John Cena vs Brock Lesnar-Night Of Champions 2014.

John Cena vs CM Punk-Raw 23.11.2009.

John Cena vs Chris Jericho-Raw 02.08.2010

John Cena vs CM Punk-Raw 12.11.2012.

John Cena vs CM Punk-Raw 25.2.2013.

John Cena vs Luke Harper-Smackdown 21.3.2014.

John Cena vs Seth Rollins-Smackdown 27.12.2013.

 

 

 

You will instantly find obvious omissions-this isn't even everything I wanted to list. I'll edit more matches in this post as I remember them. Recommendations would be appreciated.



#26 Jimmy Redman

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Posted 07 October 2014 - 06:35 PM

Well...

 

For the pre-2005 period, I'd definitely include his debut vs Angle on Smackdown (12/6/02) and their match at No Mercy 2003. I know it's Angle, but his debut is actually a really fun babyface debut that puts him over really well (and shows Cena in his 2002 tights & armdrags mode, which I get a kick out of). In fact anything Cena did in 2002 as a babyface he looked surprisingly good in. There's a six-man tag with Edge and Rey vs Angle, Benoit & Eddie in I think August, and he also has a few other tag matches from the period.

 

The No Mercy match gets worse with every viewing for me because Kurt Angle, but it was still a pretty good match and the first significant "workrate" match Cena had (in reputation rather than reality I mean).

 

There's another Undertaker match from Smackdown, June 2004 that was really good too.

 

I want to revisit the entire Booker T series, because I am a masochist. But also because I saw glimpses of them on Vintage Collection ages ago and they looked much better than I would have thought.

 

For the 2005-07 period, Cena vs Umaga vs Khali on Raw, 4/7/07 is a no-brainer. Just balls of fun, although if you don't like the Khali matches then proceed with caution. I also absolutely love Cena vs K-Fed.

 

2008 onwards I can think of a few TV matches.

 

Cena vs Shawn - Raw 12/1/09

Cena vs Big Show - Smackdown 27/2/09

Cena vs Jack Swagger - Raw April 2009

Cena vs Triple H - Raw 19/10/09

Cena vs Dolph Ziggler - Raw 20/12/10

Cena vs Dolph & Vickie - Smackdown 21/12/10

Cena vs Rey - Raw 25/7/11

Cena vs Big Show - Raw July 2012

Cena vs Alberto - Raw 24/12/12 (the Christmas match)

Cena vs Cesaro - Raw whenever this was 2014



#27 NintendoLogic

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Posted 07 October 2014 - 08:14 PM

The thing about Cena is that to a large extent, he's a system quarterback. He works within the confines of the WWE formula, which is virtually idiot-proof. I complain all the time about how it handcuffs guys, but it also makes it so that pretty much any decently talented wrestler can consistently have good matches and even oxygen thieves like Miz are usually watchable. I'm not saying that he's entirely the product of a formula or road agents laying things out for him, but I do think he benefits to a degree from resume inflation.



#28 Timbo Slice

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Posted 07 October 2014 - 08:24 PM

So then where do guys have more elasticity in a style and are having great matches? To my knowledge, agents are a big part of the finishes more than anything else, and guys who have been around a while are trusted to call the match themselves when they're out there.



#29 Matt D

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Posted 07 October 2014 - 08:32 PM

The thing about Cena is that to a large extent, he's a system quarterback. He works within the confines of the WWE formula, which is virtually idiot-proof. I complain all the time about how it handcuffs guys, but it also makes it so that pretty much any decently talented wrestler can consistently have good matches and even oxygen thieves like Miz are usually watchable. I'm not saying that he's entirely the product of a formula or road agents laying things out for him, but I do think he benefits to a degree from resume inflation.

 

This is a blatant trap to have me explain how Arn Anderson's work as a Road Agent moves him up the GOAT list. I'm not falling for it.



#30 Jimmy Redman

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Posted 07 October 2014 - 08:54 PM

The thing about the formula is the same thing that has already been pointed out about exposure/having all the footage available. It goes both ways.

 

The WWE formula may be conducive to having baseline good matches (not sure everyone would agree with that, but let's say). It can also be said to be limiting in how far above "good" matches can get. The WWE formula may be idiot-proof, but it is also repetitive and cookie cutter, and the overabundance of WWE wrestling per week makes it even harder to stand out.

 

Look at a guy like Randy Orton (who we should have a thread about now that I think of it). Think of how he's perceived most of the time, as a guy who is boring, stale, and has the same matches over and over ad nauseum. A guy who has "good" matches but not "great" ones. The formula may protect him from having too many actively bad matches, but it also works against him in terms of superlative matches.

 

That would be my argument against that as a criticism of Cena. I think he does have a long list of "good" matches that it is unfair to compare to guys from other eras or companies, and you can call it "resume inflation" if you want (that's assuming that a long list of merely "good" matches without further analysis is worth something in these discussions) but I think that's far more an available footage argument than the idea that the WWE style is inherently better in and of itself.



#31 Exposer

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Posted 10 October 2014 - 06:59 AM

The best big match worker in US history. Has to make my list based on that. Great at selling, timing, working a crowd, great characterization, etc.



#32 Jmare007

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Posted 10 October 2014 - 10:23 AM

I wouldn't call Cena great at selling. He can be great but he's very spotty with it.



#33 Exposer

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Posted 11 October 2014 - 10:38 AM

I wouldn't call Cena great at selling. He can be great but he's very spotty with it.

I think he's more great, than not. Yeah, he's had his matches where the "Super Cena" moniker has overreached leaving selling behind, but I don't think it's as bad as some think. I'd say the Sandow match a year ago is a great example of that. However, I've seen plenty of great Cena selling performances against Show, Henry, Khali, Umaga, and the Elimination Chamber match in 06. He's ignored selling before, but more often than not I think he's pretty great at it.



#34 El McKell

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Posted 11 October 2014 - 11:21 AM

His selling is great and I disagree with exposer that the Sandow match last year was a 'super cena' situation, I personally thought that was a great match and it's one of the rare times I've actively rooted for someone to win a match simply based the bell to bell action. To me the only really egregious matches with Cena overcoming out of nowhere after taking all the offence are the I Quit match with Miz in 2011 and the otherwise awesome Lesnar match in 2012.

Anyway John Cena is a great worker despite being sometimes sloppy and delivering punches to the gut that look like crap. He'll probably be in my top 50

#35 Jmare007

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Posted 11 October 2014 - 03:18 PM

Haven't seen the match since it happened but I remember his match against Michaels at Mania 23 as a case of him not being that good at selling.

 

Normally, I'm not bothered by his Super Cena comeback but I was pissed at how he structured the Summerslam match against Nexus. Dude was DDT'd on concrete, then got up FU'd people and won :lol:

 

 

That said. The more I think about Cena, the more stupid I find my initial statement of him being a "60-50" kinda guy. He's gonna end up being high on my list.



#36 WingedEagle

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Posted 11 October 2014 - 03:25 PM

Cena's someone who will likely end up deceptively good under this evaluation.  If breaking down wrestlers, I don't know what you would say he excels at.  Other than having a long, long, long list of great matches.  No getting around that.



#37 MJH

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Posted 11 October 2014 - 04:16 PM

I guess I'll be the low mark on Cena (or certainly lower than most though he's making the list). He's a triumph of industry - including the WWE system, which absolutely includes the cameras - rather than talent, and I'm not sure I'd call any of his matches "great", but when you're on top for ten years and I'm having as tough a time thinking of any match of his worse than "solid" in that time frame, and he excels in some areas as much as he sucks in others, you can't pass over him.   



#38 W2BTD

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Posted 11 October 2014 - 05:20 PM

The thing about Cena is that to a large extent, he's a system quarterback. He works within the confines of the WWE formula, which is virtually idiot-proof. I complain all the time about how it handcuffs guys, but it also makes it so that pretty much any decently talented wrestler can consistently have good matches and even oxygen thieves like Miz are usually watchable. I'm not saying that he's entirely the product of a formula or road agents laying things out for him, but I do think he benefits to a degree from resume inflation.

 

This is a great post. 

 

You know that phrase you sometimes hear, "He's so overrated, he's underrated"?

 

Cena is the opposite. He's so underrated by people who hate him, that he ends up getting too much praise from people who like him, and now he's overrated.

 

I am by no means a Cena hater. He's a nice little WWE style wrestler with a nice resume of really good matches, and few really great ones. What I find odd about this thread & the general love for Cena around here, is that Cena is bad at things that many who praise him on this site value strongly (bad punches & strikes, awful looking low impact offense), and does things that routinely get ripped when it comes to other wrestlers (finisher spamming, endless finisher kickouts, video game closing stretches, etc). It seems Cena gets a pass for this stuff from some people. 

 

I like Cena. I usually like his matches, but he's also a guy who has a file folder full of absolute shit, the likes of which true all time greats do not. He's a guy who has great matches with high level workers and when he has great chemistry with somebody (CM Punk instantly comes to mind, as does Bryan), but he's also a guy who has trouble carrying bad opponents (the awful Bray Wyatt matches until the gimmick match with the shortcuts...I think LMS at Payback, which was great). He has mediocre matches against mediocre opponents (The Rock, Randy Orton, Big Show). Cena is basically the poster child for working to the level of your opponent. 

 

If this were any other site on the internet, i'd be defending him because he'd likely be unfairly ripped by just about everybody. Here he gets the respect he deserves as a worker, but I think we need to pump the brakes a bit and be fair about the flaws. 

 

He didn't make my Top 100 five years ago. He'd probably make it now, somewhere in the 80-100 range. The weird thing, is he'd probably be the only guy on my list with tons of matches I don't like very much. But the high end stuff can not be ignored, and with the amount of televised stuff he has (maybe more than anybody), he's bound to have some stinkers.



#39 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 11 October 2014 - 06:59 PM

I might abstain on voting for Cena because I only ever watch his most highly pimped stuff.

#40 Dylan Waco

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Posted 11 October 2014 - 07:16 PM

I might abstain on voting for Cena because I only ever watch his most highly pimped stuff.


I can't tell if this is a troll post or a serious one




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