As I’ve made my way around the Internet over the past couple of days, the reaction to Brock and Cena’s match at Extreme Rules seems to have fallen into two different and distinct camps. The first camp holds the opinion that Cena and Brock had a fantastic match, one that ended a surprisingly successful Extreme Rules, while the other camp sees the match as nothing more than the latest in a long line of matches where “Super Cena” manages to overcome the odds again because apparently Cena is incapable of losing a match cleanly.
On the surface, that second camp isn’t wrong. Of the seventeen minutes that the match lasted, at least fifteen of them were nothing more than Brock tearing Cena apart, and Cena did end up winning the match with little more than one finisher and a whole lot of “can do attitude.” But watching the match on Sunday, I didn’t get the feeling that I was watching just another “Super Cena” match.
I want to draw a comparison now to another match, one from almost a year ago, Cena vs. The Miz in an “I Quit” Match at Over the Limit. Even now, almost a year later this match leaves a bad taste in my mouth because to me, this is the pinnacle of “Super Cena.” For those who didn’t see the show or have forgotten, the basic set up was that because of the “I Quit” stipulation, there was nothing to stop blatant cheating or interference. So, The Miz and then protégé Alex Riley both went after Cena effectively turning the match into a handicap match. For 24 minutes we watched these two beat up Cena without our hero getting a swing edgewise. But then in typical Cena fashion, in minute number 25, Cena takes out Riley in a matter of seconds, then goes after Miz who, not that his advantage was gone, quits the match quickly so that Cena can hoist the title over his head. This match more than any other is a prime example of Cena winning because Cena wins.
So compare that match to the one earlier this week. The first and obvious difference is that this was a one on one match. Cena wasn’t losing because he had to face two people, he was losing because Brock was that good. This not only helped Brock to look strong, but also let Cena get a few shots in as well throughout the match so that it wasn’t as unreasonably one sided. Brock also played a cocky, overconfident heel throughout the match, one who seems to lose almost on a fluke, and we get the impression that if these two were ever to face each other again, the match could quite possibly go in the other direction. Yes there are similarities to the “Super Cena” matches of old, but this is not the same type of boring, frustrating match that we were watching a year ago.
But what may be just as strong as a factor is the current state of the WWE surrounding the match. Last year at this time, Cena vs. The Rock had recently been announced basically saying that nobody on the current roster offered Cena any more challenge and he was now having to look to legends of the past. Plus we knew that any feud that Cena might have over the year already had an expiration date. And WWE had a lot riding on this WrestleMania match, so the last thing they wanted to do was have Cena look weaker than anybody else on the roster. Not to mention, that at the time Cena was far and away the most bankable star for the WWE and anybody who didn’t get behind Cena would simply have to put up with him anyway. Add to all that that Cena had never lost an “I Quit match” and you can figure out right away that Cena will be the victor. This turns the match into a waiting game, where we are waiting for an outcome that nobody’s all that excited about. It was like watching a Raw main event in the final weeks of The Summer of Nexus. We all knew that Nexus would be interrupting the match and beating up everybody, so any wrestling that happened before that was pointless.
Now, a year later things have changed. Cena is fresh off a major loss at WrestleMania. He loss to the Rock also marks his first clean loss since February 2010. (Which is still a bit of a cheat since is was his match against Batista right after coming out of the Elimination Chamber.) Cena was not fighting the Miz, but instead fighting Brock Lesnar, a superstar that had just come back after a long absence, one that the WWE one to make a big deal of in his first match back. Plus outside of this one specific feud, Cena is no longer WWE’s only golden goose. Since Over the Limit 2011 CM Punk has come up as a new top face, is the current champion, and as some reports indicate is now selling more merchandise than Cena is. Essentially Cena has lost his plot armor. We knew that Cena was going to win the same way we knew that Luke Skywalker was going to blow up the Death Star, because that’s how stories work. Only this time, the feeling going into Over the limit was that the might not work that way any more for Cena. Even though Cena did end up winning, I would be happy to see a rematch between these two in the near future, which is not something I’ve said about any “Super Cena” match before.
Random Unrelated Thought: Just a quick one this week, but if John Cena vs. Johnny Ace is the closing match at Over the Limit instead of CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan, I am going to lose it.
Tags: Brock Lesnar, extreme rules, john cena, Raw, WWE