A lot can be said about John Cena. From boring, one dimensional and can’t wrestle to the GOAT, polarising and multi faceted. One thing is for sure, Cena was born to be an entertainer.
Born John Felix Anthony Cena on April 23rd, 1977 in West Newbury, Massachusetts, the second of 5 boys to John Joseph and Carol (née Lupien) Cena. Prior to wrestling, Cena went to Springfield College studying exercise physiology. While studying, he also went to play American football, where he was an NCAA Division III All American Center and team captain.
After graduating, Cena pursued a career in body-building, and worked as a limousine driver to supplement his career. In 1999, Cena would move to California and start his professional wrestling training, joining Ultimate Pro Wrestling, having idolised Hulk Hogan as a child.
While at UPW, John would perform under the name The Prototype, a half human-half robot being, winning the UPW Heavyweight Championship in the process. During promos, The Prototype would often repeat himself by “rewinding” back and doing the promo again. It was during his time with UPW that Cena would star in his first movie, appearing as a gym patron in Ready to Rumble.
It wasn’t long before WWF took notice, signing Cena to a deal in 2001 and sending him to Ohio Valley Wrestling, where he would do further training and continue on as The Prototype. While at OVW, Cena would prove to be a stand out, winning the OVW Heavyweight Championship and the OVW Southern Tag Team Championships with Rico Constantino.
John would make his main roster call up in June of 2002 in a segment with Kurt Angle, where the former answered the latter’s open challenge, creating one of the more iconic moments of that year when Angle asked Cena why they should have a match, to which Cena replied “Ruthless Aggression.”
John would continue appearing in OVW until September, when he lost a “Loser Leaves OVW” match against Kenny Brolin. This call up was part of OVWs legendary Class of 2002, with fellow call ups Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton and Batista, dubbed the OVW 4.
After his debut match against Kurt Angle, he was congratulated by big names like Undertaker, Rikishi and Billy Kidman, establishing himself as a face. Cena’s first major feud was against Chris Jericho, and would go on to defeat him at Vengeance. In October of ’02, Cena would team up with Billy Kidman in a tournament to crown the newly established WWE Tag Team Championships, but would lose in the first round.
This would result in Cena turning on Kidman and turning heel and lead to a mini feud between the 2 men, ending at Rebellion in a mixed tag match, involving Dawn Marie and Torrie Wilson. Shortly after, on a Halloween episode of SmackDown, John would dress up as Vanilla Ice and freestyle rap.
This proved popular, as Cena would continue to freestyle rap his promos each week. This would be the beginning of the “Doctor of Thuganomics.” For a period of time, Cena was joined by Bull Buchanan (as B-2 and B²) as an enforcer, followed by Redd Dogg (Rodney Mack), after Cena turned on Buchanan. Shortly after Redd Dogg was sent to Raw, Cena turned his attention to Brock Lesnar and the WWE Championship.
At Backlash 2003, Lesnar and Cena faced off for the WWE Championship, which Lesnar won. Over the next few months, John would bounce around from match to match at PPVs, including teaming with the FBI to take on Rhyno, Chris Benoit and Spanky at Judgement Day ’03 and losing to Undertaker at Vengeance ’03. Cena would face Kurt Angle in a losing manner at No Mercy before turning face by joining Team Angle at Survivor Series.
Cena would enter the 2004 Royal Rumble at number 28, before being eliminated by Big Show. At No Way Out, Cena was involved in a triple threat match, also including Kurt Angle and Big Show, with the winner going onto face Eddie Guerrero for the WWE Championship, which was won by Kurt Angle. Cena would continue to feud with Big Show going into WrestleMania XX for Big Shows United States Championship. C
ena and Big Show would open WrestleMania XX in a decent match, which saw Cena pick up the victory and his first Championship on the main roster. He’d hold onto the title for 114 days before being stripped off it for attacking the then GM of SmackDown, Kurt Angle. Cena would go into gold the title twice more in 2004, beating Booker T in a Best of 5 series, and Carlito Caribbean Cool (who he had dropped the title to only 4 days after winning it).
In the 2005 Royal Rumble, John managed to make it to the Final 2, along with Batista. Initially they eliminated each other at the same time to end the match, but Vince McMahon stormed to the ring (tearing his quads entering the ring because he isn’t as young as he likes to think he is) and restarted the match with just the final 2, claiming there must be a solo winner, which end up being Batista.
At No Way Out, John would face Kurt Angle (who had returned to action in June of 2004), with the winner getting a WWE Championship match at WrestleMania 21. This happened during Cena’s third US Championship run, during which, he introduced the first of his 2 custom belts, the spinner belt. Cena would beat Angle and go on to feud with WWE Champion John “Bradshaw” Layfield, who has won the WWE Championship from Eddie Guerrero at the Great American Bag 2004.
At this time, JBL was the leader of The Cabinet, consisting of himself, Orlando Jordan, The Bahamas (Doug and Danny) and, later, Jillian Hall. On the March 3rd, 2005 episode of SmackDown, Cena would drop the US Championship to Orlando Jordan, who, with the help of JBL, would destroy the custom spinner belt and revive the original WWE version of the Championship.
On April 3rd, 2005, WrestleMania goes Hollywood and John Cena faces off against JBL for the WWE Championship. Cena would win this match and win his first World Championship in the process. During this reign, Cena would introduce the spinner WWE Championship belt, which would remain in use for 7 years. Cena and JBL would continue their feud until Judgement Day, where they had an I Quit match for the WWE Championship. Cena would retain the championship after threatening to hit JBL with the exhaust of a semi trailer. Not long after this, Cena was drafted to Raw.
Come back next week, where we’ll continue the story of John Cena’s legendary career.