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Thread: LOP GP Round of 16 - Dissecting The Music: John Cena (No One Likes Superman Anymore)

  1. #1
    King of the Columnists Leaf's Avatar
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    LOP GP Round of 16 - Dissecting The Music: John Cena (No One Likes Superman Anymore)

    Dissecting The Music:
    John Cena (No Likes Superman Anymore)

    In a business in which fancy costumes, dramatic lighting and carefully-constructed motifs are all the range, it takes a lot for one man to stand out more than any other as a superhero. Though with his powers of drawing seats, overcoming all forms of adversity and keeping cancer at bay for longer, John Cena is the superhero that the WWE deserves, but to many fans, is not the one it needs right now.

    As fans, we find something in these larger than life characters that we either like about or wish to apply to ourselves. To name a few examples, Mizfan has countlessly recited why he adopted the former Real World Star into his name; his pride and passion for the business helped him to excel further than possibly imaginable, and when you read Mizfan's work, his own passion is undeniable. For Bear, I can only imagine that two of his wrestling heroes are Dan Severn and Brock Lesnar: fellow Beasts by name, and were two great MMA fighters to boot. What about Cult Icon? As his name suggests, he is an icon to the #LuchaKliq in the same way that the legendary Blue Demon and El Santo are to fans of Lucha Libre everywhere. I'll also say that Al and Mickey Rourke are one and the same. Like Randy "The Ram", our fourth judge is an established veteran who is still working extremely hard and like Rourke himself after his performance in The Wrestler, he has recently earned an accolade (COTM) that his comeback deserved.

    Speaking of comebacks though, it is to zzzorf that I grant some of the greatest praise. I could compare our final judge to Murphy, an Australian superstar who is making it big in a predominantly American landscape. I think I owe this judge a compliment though by bringing back a style of column that himself and I have used before, in order to illustrate exactly why many fans cannot relate to the superhero-like nature of the Cenation leader.

    Notably, I have opted against looking at John Cena's personal theme song as it is a remnant of the man that he used to be. This man is no longer a rapper whose time is about to begin. He is a watered-down real-life action man who has became one of the most decorated athletes to ever grace the sport.

    With that being said, I turn you towards I Fight Dragon's 2009 hit No One Likes Superman Anymore. You see, this band provided the theme song Money for the WWE Money In The Bank 2010 PPV, which, as you can imagine, was a very apt choice. Strangely though, I consider this song to be the most relevant of theirs to compare to our product, as not only is the happy-go-lucky instrumentation a perfect reflection of the Cena character, the lyrics perfectly depict the John Cena problem, and that is the part which I would like to explore in great detail today.

    My lords and ladies of pain, I advise you to use the audio below as a reference as we look further into this larger-than-life character.

    +1 Point for Superhero artwork, right?

    The Lyrics

    Strong hands, strong mind
    Strong all the time
    Straightforward and kind
    Too simply defined

    These first two couplets form a call and response mechanism of endorsement and criticism. Superman, or Cena in this case, is praised for possessing both strong hands and mind, we cannot fault him for the fact that he has worked hard physically nor can we fault for him for the attitude that he applies.

    The problem with the heroic John Cena is that just like the caped crusader, he will always end up looking indestructible. Sure, just like Superman is weakened by kryptonite, Cena is often stunted by storyline injuries to overcome, though when all is said and done, the hero looks stronger than ever.

    The second couplet presents an even bigger problem. Though John Cena is very marketable by being the faultless goodie compared to previous starring protagonists such as CM Punk, who arguably portrayed Batman, Cena's role is too set in stone. We know of his principles and we know what action(s) he will take in each situation; where is the progression?

    'Cause no one wants to know the man who stands for things we outgrow
    He's too noble and too blind
    We're all older now and we don't need someone to care about
    The innocence we left behind

    This is why the majority of adult fans have become truly disconnected from Captain Fruity Pebble. With his consistent shorts, bright coloured tees and matching hats, Cena conforms to a familiar uniform. He looks every bit like the GI Joe's that we abandoned as kids, and his actions are far too hard to relate to as we've reached an age of understanding, knowing that no one can ever be right all of the time. The fact that he continues to act so noble alienates the modern adult audience as they realise exactly how far they've strayed from the innocent child that they used to be. That's why, even though many of us still support superheroes, we are drawn in by the more complex unreal characters, as there are less good intentions available to illuminate our own failures.

    (Don't touch that dial)
    It's just that goodness is out of style)

    Hidden by the use of panning and vocoder are these two crucial lines. It's an instruction for us not to support the Champ because heroes are not in fashion. When we think back to wrestling's true "superheroes", we picture the likes of Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart, who also adorned bright colours and had their principles tested, later showing their true colours. After them, the WWE would provide us with an obvious Attitude Era anti-hero as an admittance that times had changed. Is this line a warning that we shouldn't support a superhero because we'll only be let down again? Should we support villainous characters because their heinous actions are expected?

    Be dark, be cold (so conflicted)
    No hand to hold (heart constricted)
    Dark Knight, bright soul (we're addicted)
    No room here for the bold

    The main vocal lyrics of this verse do not need a lot of analysing. In the case of Cena, they are instructions from the IWC to forego his hero nature and to become the heel or villain that they've always dreamed he could be. It's the backing vocals that bring to light a more interesting dynamic: they spell out the process of a fan realising that it's wrong to turn on their hero but by the end of it, they know exactly what they desire.


    And what if he can fly?
    Hey, well so can I
    Jet Blue or United Airlines
    And who cares if he's strong
    All we see's the wrong we've done
    Reflected in his eyes

    Lastly, we come to the final unique part of the song: the bridge. This section can be looked at in two different parts.

    The first few lines showcase the adult fan's disgust at Cena's heroic antics. Crucially though, the other three lines spell out the main problem that many fans have with the Cenation leader, and it is one that I have already tried to stress. It doesn't matter how well he is portrayed, the more that you try to create a hero, the more the adult audience identify themselves as villains. The world that we know is one that is much darker than the one that we knew as a child: we know of work, stress and personal weaknesses. John Cena, the superhero, is not a figure that represents the true world.


    The Analysis

    To put it simply, wrestling, just like superhero comics and movies, is an art that features unbelievable characters. In some ways, it can be seen as a form of escapism for the viewer, as they are drawn into a very different type of universe. The fact that a supremely noble character exists accidentally draws light on the negativity of their own life and actions.

    It's too late for John Cena. If he was to embrace some form of anarchy or other side now, he would be turning his back on all of the sick kids that he tries to cure with his morals. That is where the real world comes in. The WWE is a company that in this day and age relies upon positive press. That is why he is the hero, and there's no way to escape that now. The capitalist society that we live in undoubtedly also clashes with the wrestling world. In a comic, would our heroes really be determined by their costume sales?

    Cena is forever doomed to be a superhero to children, but in being one, will always be a true villain to our own faulty selves.

    That's not to say that the WWE haven't learned anything since allowing their John Cena experiment to get too out of hand; the answer to their failure goes by the name of Roman Reigns.

    Before Wrestlemania, Reigns was portrayed like an Alternate Universe Man of Steel. If you apply his mid-2014 to early-2015 character to those lyrics, you would witness the same result.

    Thankfully, the higher-ups have learnt from their mistakes. Unlike his smiley Cenation counterpart, Roman Reigns has looked vulnerable by losing repeatedly to the likes of Bray Wyatt, giving him a genuine adversary to try to overcome.

    As for his image? The WWE have continued to pair him with a former partner from his very own Justice League, a man who is certainly anything but vanilla, Dean Ambrose. My old colleague Rob Simmons once expertly described The Lunatic Fringe as a Batman and Joker hybrid, which certainly makes a fine contrast to the WWE's latest Krypton incarnation. By being paired with Ambrose, Reigns has been allowed to transition from a Man of Steel into a Man of Real, becoming a man that we can relate to.

    Greater sections of the audience are starting to believe THAT.

    So what does all of this mean my friends? Whether you're a Marvel or DC Fan, superheroes are allowed to exist in your world. By comparing John Cena to both Superman and Reigns, it appears that in this particular Universe, heroes are in fact permitted...

    It's just that the super are no longer celebrated.
    Catch up on my column series, Sound Of The Underground, only on

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    This is going to be a really tough call between you and Chops. Both of you took a really interesting take on the topic. I think that both of you really landed a nice piece that felt very well within the confines of your respective comfort zones without feeling like a topic was hoist upon you as it was. I loved how you transitioned seamlessly from a piece about Cena to focus briefly on Reigns.

    "By being paired with Ambrose, Reigns has been allowed to transition from a Man of Steel into a Man of Real, becoming a man that we can relate to." was one of my favorite lines I've read in a long while. Very well done.
    Read my latest. That's not a request.


  3. #3
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    Hang on, does that make The Shield some kind of New Age Justice League!?!

    I toyed with the idea of a Cena column but felt like I wouldn't be able to bring anything new to the conversation. You, however, have shown me that there's still plenty to be said, specifically as WWE moves forward and looks for a "new Cena." The thing WWE seems to forget is that it never works to replace like for like. When Hogan left they transitioned to the likes of Hart and HBK, then to the more aggressive Austin then, of course, to Cena. It's about evolving what "the man" is going to be, not just building a replica of what you already have.

    Also, that's a fun song that's going to be stuck in my head all night!

    Well played!

  4. #4
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    I expected you to go the easy route and mention Regal to impress me... Then you played up to my MMA life, which not too many people here know about, that got you an extra 10 points

  5. #5
    Senior Member JacobWrestledGod's Avatar
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    Oct 2013
    I thought this is brilliant. the pandering, obvious but not too rampant. the topic, very apt, very strong and the style. Leaf, you were always known for the clean formats and this is no different.

    i disagree that :

    It's just that the super heroes are no longer celebrated.
    Because if so, then Cena would be derided by the children as well. But, nah. He's superman through and through, and beloved. So its not that heroes are not celebrated NOW, but rather, adults have never celebrated heroes, ever since Attitude Era, with the adults choosing Austin, DX over the classic faces such as Bret and Hogan.

    A toss up between the 2 columns. Great takes.
    And Jacob wrestled with God.

  6. #6
    King of Stats zzzorf's Avatar
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    Kempsey, NSW, Australia
    Topic: Perfect. What a great take on the topic, it works just so perfectly.

    Stip: I don't know if I really buy into your butt-kissing here, I mean it was a good start but it fell kind of flat. Also Murphy, really?

    My opinion: I'm glad you brought back Dissecting the Music, even if it was an abridged version. The one column we did was easily one of the best I ever did and it is a pity I never followed through with anymore with you. As to this column in particular I loved the way you dissected a song and made it appropriate to Cena, and to the lesser degree Reigns. It was a great concept that you should look at doing again.

  7. #7
    @TRSOTP @MazzaLOP Mazza's Avatar
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    Sep 2013
    -1 point for a cheap attempt at an extra point!

    I really really like this concept. Something I'd love to see you break out every once in a while. I really liked the example too. Top notch column this. And this is coming from someone who has no love whatsoever for the topic you were given so that makes it even more impressive.

  8. #8
    Broken Kleck Kleckamania's Avatar
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    Sep 2013
    This column mirrors my beliefs on Cena. It also makes the comparison to Superman, but I would have loved to see that explored a little more. Wrestling needs him. Adults hate him. A whole new generation hinges on his fandom. Cena gets a lot of flack, but he has adapted to the new business model of a top face. And done so better than anyone before him. He deserves way more credit than he gets, but it won't happen because in those moments, adult fans need to face their own demons, and they reach out to wrestling to escape their pain, not embrace it...

    I'm artistically inclined. I'm obligated to stand in the waves as rolling tides approach as high as eyes can see up and smile- knowing that the cut worm forgives the plow.

    This was great. I loved it. Definitely among the top picks of mine for the round.

  9. #9
    The Brain
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    Sep 2013
    Fascinating. How utterly different from your opponent yet completely it engaged me to almost exactly the same degree, albeit on entirely different ends of the spectrum. The only critique I can think of is that even a column as excellent as this must inevitably retread old ground in the Cena analysis, but I think you did a very good job of putting a spin on it that drew me. Using the song as a framing device was an excellent choice and really helped you hang your point on something unique and compelling. I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that I’m endlessly intrigued by the difficulty of successfully introducing a “superman” character to a modern setting. It’s such a round peg in a world where all we have is sharp corners.

    I loved your line about costume sales determining the hero, but I do want to say I firmly believe that one day Cena will get his chance to embrace something darker again. Of course, that probably won’t happen until those costume sales finally die off a bit… but it will be a damned interesting day when it happens.

    The best I’ve read so far in this round. Excellent work sir.

    PS I greatly admired your dedication to the stipulation, not hand waving it off with a few obvious nods but actually taking the time to remember something about each man and apply it accordingly. I do hope Al is not about to die at his keyboard though (my god, how good is that movie??).

  10. #10
    King of the Columnists Leaf's Avatar
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    Jan 2014
    Ray- Thank you Ray. It certainly looks to be a close contest. I'm glad you liked that as it was the bit I was most worried about. I was afraid that the switch and end would sound abrupt and I did try to rectify that, with the end result being the best that I could come up with. Thanks for thinking it worked.

    Chop- That's what I tried to hint at! I'm trying to think who Rollins would be though, The Flash? Best of luck, it's a tough call this round I reckon.

    Bear- I mentioned Regal in my last column so I felt like I had to go the extra mile. I'm glad that you liked it. *double suck up*

    JWG- You're completely right Jake. I should have emphasised the fact that it's adults who can't celebrate WWE's version of superheroes. Thanks for the criticism and I'm happy that you liked this regardless. Your column was a beast this round.

    zzzorf- You name the time, place and theme buddy. I'm really interested in doing a comparison of Bayley and Sasha ahead of Takeover. As for the stip, I didn't want to do the obvious generic compliments. I wanted to do something that meant more for each competitor whilst talking about their potential idols or who they could relate to. I'm sorry you didn't think much of that.

    Mazza- Believe it or not, I'm not into superheroes either. I just felt that I might as well use an obvious example, put a new twist to it, apply it to a song that I've heard, and fault the WWE in the process. That combo seemed to work I think! Thanks for the awesome feedback.

    Kleck- That is deep man. By all means, post a reply column in the actual forum. I would love to hear you explore that further. Thank you.

    Mizfan- That round peg line was fantastic. Yeah covering Cena was always going to be somewhat unoriginal, though I felt there was an opportunity to find a new angle. Hopefully it worked here. Thank you as well for appreciating the stipulation attempt. As far as Al is concerned, I think he'll agree with me that we've never really crossed paths, as much as I enjoy his stuff. The Rourke analysis was all I could think of here; please don't attempt any Ram Jams Al!

    Thanks a lot gentlemen. It's going to be tough between Chop and myself but if this is my final moment in the tournament I think it turned out to be a good'un!
    Catch up on my column series, Sound Of The Underground, only on

  11. #11
    Senior Member Oliver's Avatar
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    Nov 2014
    This was great, Leaf - wasn't actually what I first thought of when I saw the stips, but the way you tied everything into that one song and made it all work without it every feeling a stretch was really good for me.

    One thing I always think with Cena, and Mizfan kind of picked this up in his analysis above, is that he's the right man in the wrong era - he's a Hogan when we want an Austin, if you like. Although I'm not sure we really want an Austin either - the truth is I don't think WWE knows what they need to spearhead the current era. Cena's kind of stale, but I think that's partly because nobody's really turned up and stretched him and forced him to change - and when someone like CM Punk did it flickered and died. They've teased the change and then pulled the blanket out from underneath it so many times I just don't think they really are prepared to freshen him up. They need someone to take his spot, though - if not by design then by force of will. Honestly, I thought that would be Ambrose because he was hot fire in the moments after The Shield split, and it could still end up going that way, but nobody else has really stepped up to him and overtaken him. Reigns was sadly torn down by the heavy push, because he could have been set to do it in a similar way.

    There has to come a point when one of these young guns takes on Cena toe to toe and WWE commits to the push and has him go down. Owens, for me, should have been the guy and it looked like he was all set to be - but again, it got bottled. Such a shame.

    Anyway, good column bud!

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