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Wrestling Soap Box: It’s Official, John Cena is a Good Wrestler

– Wrestling Soap Box: It’s Official, John Cena is a Good Wrestler


Guess what folks? John Cena can wrestle, and he proved it last Monday when he and CM Punk tore the house down, and arguably had the best match in the history of Monday Night Raw.


Is Cena the world’s greatest wrestler? No. Are his promos gods awful and infuriating at times? Absolutely. The fact of the matter is you can’t suck and have the kind of match that he had. CM Punk does bring the best out of him, but Cena wasn’t carried in any way, shape, or form.


“I’m serving humble pie and I hope all of my critics are hungry” were the first verbal shots fired by John Cena in his pre-match promo. He was determined to have the kind of match that fans will be talking about for years to come.


Cena is a lousy mechanic, which is what he gets such a bad rap for. However, he can tell a great story and knows how to work in the right situations. Don’t believe me? Let’s take trip down memory lane and look at the best John Cena matches.


-Cena vs. Rob Van Dam, WWE Championship (ECW One Night Stand 2006)


“If Cena wins, we RIOT” perfectly describes the atmosphere in Hammerstein Ballroom that evening. ECW represented the hardcore fan and John Cena is the epitome of what hardcore fans hate about wrestling. The crowd did anything they could to get under his skin. The champ would not break as he did the one thing that infuriated the ECW faithful more than anything. He was simply himself and pulled off all of his trademark moves including the five knuckle shuffle.


-Cena vs. Edge, TLC Match for the WWE Championship (Unforgiven 2006)


While this wasn’t the first time Edge and Cena wrestled each other, it was their best outing. Like CM Punk, Edge always brought the best out of John Cena and was the first person to get people to boo the doctor of thugonomics. Bringing out the best in someone is not a knock on the guy who is getting the best brought out of them. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink it and the same applies here. Cena went over on Edge in his home town of Toronto and took an absolute beating in the process.


-Cena vs Umaga, Last Man Standing Match (Royal Rumble 2007)


I don’t think many expected much out of this match and we got so much more than we bargained for. Super Cena wasn’t super enough as Umaga dominated him at almost every turn. Cena even resorted to low blows and still couldn’t derail the big man. Cena had to choke him unconscious with the detached top rope in order to secure victory. It was an exciting train wreck that proved Cena could be vulnerable and still look strong in the process.


-Cena vs. Shawn Michaels, Monday Night Raw 4/23/07


An unexpected one hour classic turned out to be the match they should have had at WrestleMania 23. HBK can make anyone look good but he didn’t have to this time because Cena was with him every step of the way. This was a tremendous back and forth match that had the crowd from the opening lock up to the match ending super kick. The fact that this wasn’t an Iron Man made it even better because you had a story of two guys who wanted so desperately to win and would have fought all night if they had to.


-Cena vs. CM Punk, (Money in the Bank 2011)


The Summer of Punk turned out to be one of most exciting time periods in recent memory. We all know the story that led to the match the world had to see. While Punk was the catalyst for all of the media attention this angle was getting, it takes two to tango, and Cena was the other piece of the puzzle needed to make this match the success that it was. There is another bullet point I’m forgetting …oh yeah, it was Match of the Year.


-Cena vs. The Rock, WrestleMania 28


I watched this match in a house full of people where the majority knew nothing about the IWC. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was more vested in this match than any other encounter on the card. It wasn’t so much a great wrestling match as it was a spectacle. Every submission attempt and near fall had people jumping out of their seats. The finish was perfect as we got our first glimpse of what a heel John Cena could look like.


-Cena vs. Brock Lesnar, Extreme Rules Match (Extreme Rules 2013)


This was an amazing symphony of domination and brutality as Lesnar battered Cena with an arsenal of vicious elbows, stiff clotheslines and arm wrenching Kimuras. In the end, John Cena found a way to pin Lesnar’s shoulders to the mat and everyone has an opinion on the matter. Some felt the WWE gave away millions of dollars with Lesnar losing so soon after his debut, but the way everything unfolded made Cena winning the right call. If things were not executed as well as they were, it might have been a different story.



John Cena’s body of work over the years proves he is a good wrestler; he just doesn’t look good while doing it. Should substance minus style matter when grading the skill of a wrestler? In my humble opinion, No. Good, bad or indifferent, it takes a certain performer to resonate with the audience.


If it hadn’t happened before then it did on Monday night. Chants of “You can’t wrestle” and “Same Old %$#@&” are now null and void as it relates to John Cena and it’s time for folks to recognize.


Atlee Greene has followed professional wrestling for 25 years and writes about wrestling, mixed martial arts, and comic books on his blog, Midnight Logic.

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14 Responses

  1. Scott II says:

    With few exceptions, if you are towards the top of the card in the WWE, that means you have to have some kind of talent, even if it doesn’t always show.

    John Cena has some wrestling talent (watch some of his earlier stuff before the WWE watered him down). Wasn’t a Bret Hart by any means, but he had talent.

  2. Rafael Benitez Facts says:

    For the sake of RAW being more interesting he should go heel also Orton.

    I usually fast forward cenas bits because he is too predictable and not very interesting to watch.

    And they could build up the two big faces Sheamus & Ryback.

  3. Chris James says:

    Guess what?! You’re an idiot! One powerbomb and a botched frankensteiner does not a good wrestler make.

  4. lll says:

    Don’t forget Cena vs JBL. That was one hell of a feud. Another one (although I cannot remember the opponent) but he won the United States Championship. That was good too.

    Cena has had great matches, but he is billed to be so corny that people seem to forget that. What a shame.

  5. Robert Barron says:

    I don’t disagree. Vince McMahon and WWE severely hamper the talents of everyone on the roster. Thank goodness for CM Punk to have the balls to pull off that piledriver and I was shocked to see Cena OK’d it in the ring. Although the hurricanarana was botched, Cena is 255+lbs. so I cannot fault an impromptu move like that with a guy that size. It was a pleasant surprise, even though it was a little off.

  6. M.J, Wright says:

    @ Chris. I wouldn’t go as far as calling him an idiot..but you make a valid point. At some point, if you are the biggest star in the company (like Hulk Hogan was) it pretty much doesn’t matter what you do in the ring, as long as the kids and casual fans eat it up. But to the hardcore fans, he is mediocre at best and like Hulk Hogan before him, can pull out a good match every once in a while, but it depends who he goes up against. Some wrestlers could carry David Arquette to a 5 star match and all of the above opponents you mentioned (Umaga the exception, though he was good) could do so.

  7. gerry says:

    Does not a good wrestler make? And your calling him the idiot..

  8. Geoff says:

    Listen, Cena is a good wrestler in terms of physicality, strength, stamina and he can wrestle a very long match. He is a bad wrestler in the sense that he is stiff, doesn’t execute moves in a way that looks as good as other wrestlers, and does not have variations in his pattern of wrestling. People boo him because 1) they believe he is a bad wrestler 2) his promos are generic and too dramatic and are not “cool” as the ones punk throws if you know what i mean.

  9. motorhead says:

    i was a cena-hater for years until the edge/cena tlc match. But what really changed my mind was a house show. Cena vs. Angle in a steel cage. One of the best cage matches i’d ever seen. Cena is a great psychologist with a live crowd but it fails to come tbrough the tv as well. After these two matches my respect for cena went through the roof. And through the bad angles and awful matches with bum talent, he’s really only gotten better. Triple h talked sense into him and cena was willing to listen/learn. Let’s not forget that cena can still rap. The rap thing got old, yes, but it is still hilarious. Wm 20 and the rap against the rock especially. Like hogan can talk, cena can rap. In the end cena didn’t hold anyone up for a push; they gave it to him cause they saw something in him.

  10. P b says:

    John cena is not a good wrestler. Never has been never will be.

  11. Scott says:

    @Chris, you’re right. A powerbomb and a hurricanrana doesn’t make a good wrestler. To be more precise, “movez”(A term from another message bird) don’t make anyone a good wrestler. What makes a good wrestler is being able to draw emotion from the audience, which Cena has always been able to do. However, his in-ring game has been really good, especially as of late.

  12. Guled says:

    John Cena doesn’t gain respect when it comes to wrestling. that simple;

  13. -J- says:

    ironic he trained with joe, kaz and daniels…cena can wrestle good enough its his persona that is sh!t, and his selling sux.

  14. Atlee Greene says:

    Thank you all for reading my column!

    @Scott II

    His OVW stuff was always solid in my opinion including his time with Rico Constantino.

    @Rafael Benitez Facts

    I think it is time for Cena to go heel too. However, Vince will not play that card until he has the next big babyface that will be the flagship star and make the company millions just like Austin and Hogan before him. Unfortunately, they don’t have that guy on the roster right now.

    @Chris James

    Thank you for your kind remarks. I think Cena gets a pass this time as it relates to the hurricanrana since it was so shocking to see him pull it out considering it is a move we have never seen him do before and it is a move no one would ever picture him doing.


    Cena vs. JBL was razor close to making my list. In the end, I felt it didn’t have one of those “ legendary nights” type of story to it.


    Cena trained at a good school with good talent. It’s funny how no one crapped on Cena during his days as US champion. In fact, people were beside themselves when Undertaker didn’t put him over at Vengeance 2003. No one started crapping on Cena until he became the top dog in the company. I think the public at large are used to the top guy having crisp fluidity in all of the moves they execute. In his prime. Hogan didn’t do much but it looked good. Cena is the first flag ship star to have an awkward sense of coordination as it relates to his moves so it gives off the appearance he doesn’t know what he is doing and therefore, sucks.

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