Everyone’s talking a lot about Brock, and rightfully so, because he delivered the ass-stomping of a lifetime in the most one-sided major wrestling match I can remember ever seeing, but let’s not forget to appreciate what John Cena did in this match. He delivered yet again in the big event, adding another great match to his legacy. But the way he did it is what’s special. There was zero ego in John Cena’s performance tonight. He got basically two hope spots, and they were both brief.
- He got Brock with the Attitude Adjustment for a near-fall on pure adrenaline. Lesnar kicked out. Lesnar then laughed at his pitiful effort — that pitiful effort being Cena’s best, most devastating maneuver.
- He got the STF locked on. Lesnar struggled a bit, feigned tapping, and then just rolled Cena over and beat the shit out of him some more, making it read as if Lesnar had played possum, toying with Cena and the audience, as he had done all night.
To go out there, as the biggest star in the industry, and get chucked around the ring on 16 German suplexes and two F5s, to not even have a true glimmer of hope at any point in the match, to take that severe an ass-kicking, says a lot about John Cena’s dedication to what he does. He knows this is a great story. And it is.
I don’t think Rocky III is a very good movie, but the Clubber Lang-Rocky Balboa rivalry in that movie is sort of reminiscent of this, and Cena will eventually come back, train for the fight of his life, against all odds, and more likely than not, he’s going to be the guy who beats Lesnar for the title. That probably makes a lot of people groan right now, but give it the respect it deserves, and let it play out, if that is indeed the road they wind up taking with this. Cena gave Lesnar everything in this match. For fans who wanted to see John Cena beaten, he took it to another level. It was borderline uncomfortable the way he was completely manhandled by Lesnar, who did as he pleased the entire match.
Where this differs from Rocky III, however, is that the excuse for Balboa losing to Lang the first time was that he had been fed a series of cupcake fights to capitalize on his fame, to keep him winning, to keep him the face of his sport. Cena hasn’t done that. He’s beaten all the top contenders, he’s been the true face of WWE for a decade, he’s won every war he’s ever fought, even if he’s lost a lot of battles.
So unlike Lang, who destroyed a champion who can reasonably be called unprepared, Lesnar went out and decimated The Man. He made John Cena, and thus everyone else on the WWE roster, look like a joke in comparison. It wasn’t hard for Lesnar. He didn’t overcome. He didn’t win a back-and-forth, grueling affair. Brock Lesnar beat John Cena worse than anyone has ever been beaten at this level, 100% legally, no weapons, no interference, nothing. And there was even a sense of mercy in his body language, too. As if he could have done worse had he felt the need to do anything more than hurl the 15-time world champion around the ring like a rag doll.
There are a lot of great wrestling matches all the time, even just in WWE. This was something different. This was special. And Cena deserves as much credit as Lesnar for making it what it was.