Why John Cena Is The Greatest Wrestler Of All-Time
John Cena equalled Ric Flair's record of 16 world championship wins last night at the Royal Rumble, when he ousted AJ Styles in an absolute classic infront of 52,000 fans at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
And for me, the performance that Cena delivered and this latest achievement further cements him as the greatest wrestler of all-time.
Clearly professional wrestling is filled with so many all-time great colourful characters and in-ring performers. Stone Cold Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, The Rock, The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair and Bret Hart are often talked about when you are talking about the big guns in wrestling over the years and while they have all made a huge impact on the wrestling business, I don't think you can overlook just how good John Cena is and has been for WWE.
Since his debut in 2002 and his real breakthrough with the 'Doctor of Thuganomics' gimmick, Cena has been able to stay on top for over 12 years and continue to deliver on a regular basis.
As far as being a box-attraction and a merchandise mover, no-one can come close to John Cena - the likes of Paul Heyman and JBL, two massive personalities in wrestling, share that view. He is the face of the WWE and the absolute standard-bearer for anyone wanting to be a professional wrestler.
Cena gets a lot of flack from the so-called "hardcore wrestling fans" and I do understand it to an extent - in fact I have been in the group that has been critical of John Cena. There have been dark times in his career and I understand the cries from some people for him to change his character and move away from being WWE's version of Superman with far too many colourful T-shirt designs, but since 2014, he's been utterly sensational.
He is easily the most hard working man in professional wrestling business, putting it all on the line on a nightly basis whilst balancing his other commitments and projects. He's a mainstream star - evidenced by his various film appearances and his hosting roles with the ESPY Awards, Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards and Saturday Night Live.
But unlike The Rock, with whom he squared off against at consecutive Wrestlemania's, Cena's passion for wrestling is still there, above anything else. He is using his image and his marketability to promote WWE and garner more interest in the product.
And his philanthropy work is different gravy. He has granted over 500 wishes for the Make-A-Wish foundation and his latest gesture, following his 16th world title win, was brilliant.
As he made his way back from the ring, Cena made a Make-A-Wish child's dream come true when he posed with the youngster and placed his coveted championship belt on his shoulder. It's a wonderful moment for the fan, who was quite clearly in dreamland.
It's embraces like that which show exactly why he is the face of the company and has been for ten plus years. He has an unmatched connection with fans of all ages, especially the youngsters who utterly adore him and see him as their real-life superhero.
As aforementioned, since circa 2014, with his excellent United States Open Challenge, he has gone up another gear. WWE is a better product when John Cena is around and when he is filming these TV shows or whenever he has been hit with an injury (which he normally recovers from in ridiculous time) you see how the show really suffers. John Cena draws crowds, John Cena brings ratings and John Cena brings the best out of everybody.
One of the major gripes from those on the internet on various platforms has been that Cena is selfish and has an ego problem - that referencing the fact that he is so often the victor in his matches. And for a while that was quite possibly true and there have been instances where Cena winning was absolutely the wrong call - namely the whole Nexus storyline, but in recent years he has elevated so many guys - CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Kevin Owens and AJ Styles just to name a few. Just being in the ring with WWE's top guy is a privilege itself but all of those performers just mentioned all beat John Cena clean as a whistle in the middle of the ring and then went on to achieve great things.
You definitely have a case for viewing the likes of Hulk Hogan as selfish, as he was renowned for backstage politics but Cena is far from it and his recent run is primary evidence of that. So many wrestlers have talked about how working Cena has caused them to raise their game and AJ Styles has been the latest to do.
Their match at Summerslam was a classic and somehow both men found an extra level at last night's Royal Rumble pay-per-view. There is a notion that John Cena is not a good professional wrestler and that he merely has five moves and that his matches are the same. It's simply not true. As far as psychology and in-ring skill, Cena is right up there. He may not have worked for years on the independent scene honing his craft, but there is never a John Cena match that is not must-watch. In the last few years, he's added new moves to his arsenal and that has helped him in these big match situations.
When he goes through the curtain, the crowd becomes unglued and there is electricity. In his entrance last night, 'Big Match John' was met with his archetypal mixed reaction of cheers and boos but by the time he had scored the pinfall for his 16th world championship, that crowd were going crazy for him because of his performance and the quality of the match that he and Styles, undoubtedly one of the best in-ring talents in the world, had just served up.
@ricflairnatureboy congratulates @johncena after he reaches a historic milestone. He is a 16x #WWE Champion! #RoyalRumble
A photo posted by WWE (@wwe) on
To me, John Cena is the greatest all-round performer ever to perform in a wrestling ring and his achievement last night further proves that. Admittedly, there was a period where I was sour on him, but he's completely and utterly won me over, as he has with so many others.
At 39, despite more of a part-time role because of his work outside of wrestling, Cena shows no sign of slowing down and his equalling of Ric Flair's record is fully deserved.
Thanks for the magical moments and matches John and here's to many more.
John Cena, the G.O.A.T, I salute you.