|Cena is a great wrestler, but he excels as the net negative of everything Rhodes was|
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Think about it. Everything Cena is is what Rhodes wasn't. Rhodes was a tubby nobody who rose up the ranks and made his name on pure emotion and empathy. He was popular not because he was unattainable, but because he was the people in the family. He was their fathers and uncles, the men who worked for eight hours or more a day in order to scrape by. And despite being the working man, the man of the people, he rose up the ranks of the National Wrestling Alliance, became its Champion three times, but had more failures than successes. But he kept fighting. He kept scrapping. He kept getting to the top on his own merit.
Cena, however, had everything handed to him, and why wouldn't he? He has the body of an Adonis, a larger than life figure who looked like the superheroes in the pages of comic books or on the movie screen. I'm not putting down his charity work, because it's awesome, and he's awesome for doing it. But he's called upon for granting so many wishes for sick kids for a reason; he's the closest thing those children will come to ever seeing or experiencing a real life god walking the earth. He's not anyone's father. And what's worse is that if the world isn't handed to him on a silver platter, he will bitch and moan until he gets what he wants. So many times has he taken a loss and the next day came out and demanded that the person who beat him do it again to prove something. Sometimes, it's because the heel cheated. But what reason on God's green earth did he have for demanding a rematch out of Kevin Owens?
And yet, Cena will always claim that he abides by a credo of hustle, loyalty, and respect. But nothing about Cena says that he lives by that credo. It leads to the biggest reason why he's the exact opposite of Rhodes. He's inauthentic. Even down to the tone of voice Cena normally uses for promos, everything about him is glossy and overproduced and fake. His jokes make stereotypical dad humor look edgy and hip, and his fake Southern preacher voice is the flimsiest way to add seriousness to his cadence.
But when Rhodes spoke, you felt it. When he reached out his arm and asked you to grab his hand, because he was with you in the hard times, you wanted to grab it. Dusty Rhodes was the genuine article. His humor was earnest and honest. His plight was real. His passion was infectious. And even as he failed, he didn't have people flocking from him. They ran to him because they wanted to see him try again.
This isn't to slight Cena too much. His character has grown stale, but he's one of the finest professional wrestlers in history. He certainly deserves to be in the conversation for anyone's Wrestler of the Year consideration. But he's great for different reasons than Rhodes was. Rhodes was not the only template for a professional wrestler, but he was the most endearing, likable, relatable one. Cena is none of these. He's the exact opposite of Rhodes, one who proves how hard it can be to be the American Dream by being the personification of what it is not.