John Cena memes and vines: Why they’re best for business

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Opening of the WWE Survivor Series, a professional wrestling event at Philips Arena in Atlanta Reuters/Tami Chappell

Unexpected Cena. You know the drill. Your mate sends you a link to a video with an innocent tag along the lines of “remember this movie scene” or “such an interesting video.” You sit there watching, either thinking “oh yeah I remember this movie scene" or “hmmmmm” until….

YouTube/GameFreak - Pokemon

Yep.

John Cena is a WWE wrestler who has a habit of unexpectedly winning or randomly appearing midway through a match (with his blaring theme song) to save the day.

John Cena is also the poster-boy for World Wrestling Entertainment, appearing in multiple WWE films and main eventing the majority of pay-per-views since Wrestlemania 21. His popularity in the entertainment wrestling world is to the point where fans no longer simply wonder if Cena will appear, or bet if Cena will win. Rather, the fun is in guessing who will be the unlucky victim to lose or be “buried” by Cena.  

Despite Cena’s takeover of the WWE universe and increasing encroachment into the territory of non wrestling fans, WWE recently decided to give other wrestlers such as Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt a turn in the spotlight. As a result, no pay-per-view this year has main evented with Cena, causing fans to ask if his time is up.

If Cena’s recent rise in internet trolling is anything to go by, the answer is no. His  character seems to have evolved from the squared circle to the square screen of youtube videos, yet many continue to be left wondering: how and why is Unexpected Cena even a thing?

“He always wins,” explains long-time wrestling fan Klaude Masirty, a student from the University of Technology Sydney. But to really explain this, we have to cast our eyes back at the 2008 Royal Rumble.  

When asked what’s the first thing he remembers from the 2008 Royal Rumble, Klaude simply states, “[Cena] won. Like always”.

The royal rumble is a yearly WWE pay-per-view event where 30 participants enter every 90 seconds, and are eliminated when they are knocked out of the ring. The last man standing wins. The 2008 event is notorious because John Cena won the match.

Even though he entered at number 30.

Even though he had just returned from a torn Pectoralis major. This is an excruciating injury that most don’t ever recover from. But John Cena, would you believe it, beat the better of anatomical science, returned early and won the match. Because why? Because it’s John Cena.    

YouTube/Original Unexpected Cena (Property of WWE)

For WWE fans, Unexpected Cena symbolises frustration with Cena's over-exposure, and an avenue to parody it.

“The main reason people find these memes funny is because of the unexpectedness involved with Cena’s entrances,’ says Stratos Stavropolous from the Australian Catholic University. “It takes the mania involved with the WWE fandom (heard in the entrance music), and adds it to an unrelated or everyday scenario”.

If you think Unexpected Cena is overdone, then you should also know that John Cena not only headlined Wrestlemania five times, but has also held 24 belts, recorded his own rap album, starred in multiple movies, runs a weight loss program, and was once named the man who granted the most wishes with the Make-a-Wish foundation. He is everywhere, and given recent rumours he is headlining Wrestlemania 32, the Cena train does not look like it is going to pull up anytime soon

This may still not mean a great lot for non-WWE viewers, but to fans and WWE, it helps keep the brand and sport of professional wrestling relevant. Given WWE’s recent troubles with adapting to digital media, Unexpected Cena gives truth to the adage: any publicity is good publicity.

As WWE wrestler and executive vice president of the company Triple H likes to say, “This is best for business’.

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