Stone Cold Steve Austin is a big fan of John Cena and recently had him on his podcast. Austin called Cena’s run one of the greatest in WWE history. Quite the bold statement from the Texas Rattlesnake yet when you look at it objectively, he may be right.
I groaned when Austin first mentioned it on his podcast. I could not wrap my head around this statement. Sure he is having a great run but is it one of the greatest ever? Off the top of my head I’d say no but a further look into it reveals that not only is he having one of the greatest runs, he may be having the greatest run in WWE history.
Let’s take a look at who I would call the Mount Rushmore of WWE history sans Cena. I would put Hulk Hogan, Bruno Sammartino, The Rock, and Stone Cold Steve Austin on that mountain. I can’t think of anyone else outside of Cena that has had the historical impact and influence that these four men have had on WWE business. That said, if I was going to use these four as the barometer than Cena (gulp) is having the best run in WWE history.
John Cena won his first WWE world championship ten years ago. So let’s say that Cena is having a ten year run as the top guy. Nobody in the last ten years has come close to pushing Cena off of that top spot. Sure guys like Batista, Edge, and CM Punk have taken their shots but at the end of the day none of those guys came even close to bumping Cena from his spot. In other words nobody over the last ten years has been able to touch this guy on a consistent basis as far as merchandise sales, ratings influence, and pay per view draw.
So let’s take a look at the big four. Did those four guys have a bigger financial impact on the business? Sammartino, Hogan, and Austin all pioneered new eras in WWE history and made significant financial contributions to the overall company. Rock certainly had his influence but I don’t know if you can credit him for ushering in a new era or turning business around like the other three. While Cena never had that immediate financial impact it is fair to ask what business would have looked like from 2004-2014 without him. We may not like it but Cena pioneered this whole new PG/family-friendly era and there is no denying it.
Let’s look deeper at Austin, Hogan, and Sammartino because at this point I think Cena knocks Rock off of that Mt. Rushmore. None of those guys had a 10-year consecutive run at the top. While Hogan and Sammkartino cumulatively had that ten-year run, it wasn’t consistent. If you put that into perspective with what Cena has been able to do for ten-years his run is flat out remarkable.
I know that a lot of you are getting ready to write comments telling me how much you hate Cena. I get it and guess what? That is what makes his run even more impressive. Cena’s run has transcended a couple of different generations of fans. For every fan that winds up sick of Cena, he has another run in line with his t-shirt, arm bands, and hat. We’ll never know if Bruno or Austin could have pulled this off because injuries stalled their runs.
Hogan on the other hand was never able to do that. By 1993 the Hulkamaniacs grew up, were sick of Hogan, and there weren’t nearly as many new fans in line with the yellow and red to replace those disgruntled Hogan fans. The crowds dropped and the WWE giant that Hogan helped create was crumbling. We are ten years into Cena’s run and there doesn’t appear to be any kind of slowdown in sight for Cena.
In the ring it is easy to pick on Cena and his “Five Moves of Doom,” yet I think that is highly unfair. Cena has had some very good to great matches over the last ten years whether you want to admit it or not. Matches with CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Batista, Rey Mysterio, Edge, Chris Jericho, Triple H, and Shawn Michaels have all shown that Cena can go in the right situation. Again using the Mt. Rushmore as the barometer, all of those guys including Rock had their systematic formula which they tweaked from time to time in the right situation. It is ironic because Austin and Bruno’s fans have a world of respect for their in-ring talents yet they weren’t much different than Cena in regards to having a “standard match.”
Is Cena having the greatest run in pro wrestling history? I guess it all depends on the criteria. If you look at it objectively it is hard to argue against him. I don’t like it, neither do you, but it is time to give the guy his due and appreciate the history we have all lived over the last ten years with Cena.
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