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WRESTLING COLUMNS

"Stone Clone" John Cena
July 18, 2005 by Freddy Sturguess


It seems that since Stone Cold Steve Austin has been unable to be the force in the ring he used to be due to health repercussions from the infamous Owen Hart incident at SummerSlam 1997 (and other personal matters), the WWE has been looking for a "new" Stone Cold. And they made their choice when they decided to mold John Cena into that new clone. I can hear it being put together right now: "But how do we disguise it guys"" the head honchos ask. "We'll have to give him a gimmick that no one will ever compare with Stone Cold...I've got it! A rap gimmick! Complete with ebonics!"

For a while now, the WWE has been ripping off the things that 1.) made Stone Cold Steve Austin one of the biggest draws in wrestling history and 2.) saved the WWF from a ratings crisis in the late 90s, and working them into John Cena's repertoire. Let's take a look...the bad language; the "I'm not your corporate houseboy" attitude; the big feud with JBL earlier this year seemed to be an obvious throwback to Stone Cold's clashes with Vince McMahon, personality-wise. And the straw that breaks the rip-off's back; John Cena is now at loggerheads with the boss (well the boss of RAW anyway), Eric Bischoff. On the July 11th edition of Monday Night Raw, Cena had a big confrontation with Bischoff that consisted of the General Manager insisting Cena was out of control, not to mention Bischoff choosing a favorite to try and take the WWE title away from Cena-Chris Jericho. Does this remind anyone of the way Mr. McMahon chose The Rock as his main man to get back at Stone Cold back in the day"

And of course, Bischoff got the F.U. from John Cena, which got a huge reaction from the crowd...just like when Austin gave McMahon the Stone Cold Stunner for the first time. The week before, when Cena showed up on Jericho's Highlight Reel, a brawl ensued between he and Jericho, during which Cena used a fan's big foam novelty hand to do what" That's right. Shoot Jericho the finger. Speaking of which, that could never have happened on the slightly less racy SmackDown! Could that be one of the reasons Cena was drafted to the less-censored RAW"

This has happened before; when Hulk Hogan was wrestling's biggest name, there were a few characters who were created to imitate the super-babyface persona (pre-nWo mind you) such as Sting and Lex Luger. But when mentioned outside the world of wrestling, it would take your average non-fan a while to know who you're talking about.

Not the case with Hogan or Stone Cold. Even outside the world of wrestling, the name Stone Cold Steve Austin was just as recognizable as that of Michael Jordan or even or a movie star (a real one, not Jordan).

Some of this may not be the fault of WWE. It may be the result of Cena's own choices in guiding his character. Let's just hope the relationship between Bischoff and Jericho doesn't turn into a Vince-and-the-Corporation storyline. The days of wrestling promoters copying their own talent are far from over, but it's a painful thing to see nonetheless.

by Freddy Sturguess ..


Owen Prince (Melbourne, Australia) wrote:
Freddy Freddy, every generation brings about a new form of the same style of storyline. Just like every 10 years there is a new batch of young fans ready to replace the guys who have reached 25 and moved on to Will and Grace reruns with their girlfriends (yes Wrestling fans CAN have a woman in their life!). You complain that John Cena is a rip off of Stone Cold Steve Austin.. well who cares" If it works and gets a new star over with the crowd then good on Vince and Co for using the formula. Bischoff and Jericho forming a new Corporation" Did you watch RAW when the Bitch took over as GM" He formed a group of heels that were strangley familair in their style of sucking up to the boss... hmmm remember that"

For the most point, you make some good points about the Cena character, except that as long as he is over, nobody cares. My only question is... what does Sting have to do with the WWE character cycle""
Kyle Cronin wrote:
Your topic on John Cena is true, but written in the wrong context. But first, let me begin with the question "DID IT REALLY TAKE THIS LONG FOR YOU TO NOTICE"!" This has been pretty obvious to most fans who've been into wrestling since the era of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (myself being one of them).

What I meant when I said you took your column into the wrong context, was that you seem to think that WWE's doing the wrong thing. Now I don't mean to seem like a complete "mark" but John Cena seems to really enjoy rap, and I'd say that with the amount of time it takes to get to the top of wrestling, he's actually not that bad at it. So why exactly would he take up the gimmick of a rapper" Because he enjoys rap and has a right to... Well in the words of "Stone Cold" himself, he's being himself with the "volume turned up". So he's decided to follow the rapper stereotype, much like Austin followed the "bad-ass Texan" stereotype. The main difference between the gimmicks is that hip-hop and rap are a pretty "in" thing right now. People just make fun of Texas unless they live there or have been there (only as a joke of course).

So when Cena is using his own "rap" gimmick, he's getting over while using a long-time fad. With all the rap fans out there, he's bound to get over. And as far as being this "bad-ass" if you've ever noticed, rappers like o use their own attitude which is usually a bad attitude. Cena's just a rapper and a wrestler put into one body (of course, his rapping skills aren't exactly up to par, but many fans love him anyway).

But to conclude this reply, it seems that Vince has done the right thing but to push Cena because he seems to be getting plenty of merchandise and ticket sales, along with humongous crowd pops. Maybe Vince and the writing team have tricked the majority of the crowd into loving John Cena for being his own independant rebel on Raw, but they sure as hell succeeded with it too.
Krippes316G4 wrote:
now that you menchen it, jonh cena is pulling off the f-u more than any wreseler should do their finisher (just like a sertan rattlesnake). And he diffenaly has the I don't give a rats ass attutid. The reason they moved him to Raw was probely so he could get away with more (five second pose indeed). I think your right about this one, who knows maybe the next gimick will be cena 4:17 (hopfully not).
Jay Ingram wrote:
Excellent point, Mr. Struguess. Dont forget, SCSA pumped up Cena's potential about a month ago during an interview. WWE is setting up Cena to be a "Tweener", just like SCSA, especially pulling him from Smackdown, so as to prevent him from easily making some sort of alliance with anyone on Raw. The very fact that he has his own belt, just like the "Smoking Skull" belt, like Austin, points to the fact tht WWE wants Cena's character to remain a solitary soul, refusing to hold the belt that others have held.
Jacob Kuhn wrote:
I noticed a lot of the things that you pointed out in your article. Though, what I would like to suggest is that John Cena is more of a combination of Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin. Though he is doing everything that Austin did before him, he's doing it with a Hogan attitude.

The main reason I say this is that Austin could put on a good match, especially before his neck injury. Even afterwards his matches were still great. Cena may or may not be able to wrestle, I will not get into that debate. But his matches of late have followed a Hogan pattern. He gets his ass kicked throughout the entire match, makes a brief comeback and then wins.

And furthermore, his interviews are so inane. They are about as bad as Hogan's, though of course, the only similarity is the overly huge but undeserved egos.

Still, Cena will never be as big as either of them. WWE is trying to force him down our throats and that never works. Austin was a surprise for WWE. They weren't really expecting him to go in the direction he did as far as popularity. Someone else will come along and they will like him better. Hopefully then we won't have to hear any stupid raps anymore.
Tom McCarthy wrote:
I have never replied to a column before but i just had to write back when i read this piece. First of all, how long exactly have you been watching wrestling" Because i have news for you, Stone Cold was not the first wrestler with an attitude. Have you ever heard of some guy, i think he was called Rowdy Roddy Piper. The simple fact is that wrestlers are influenced by those that came before them. Nobody seemed to worry that Hulk Hogan was a Superstar Billy Graham Look-a-like, that Ric Flair took his name from "Nature Boy" Buddy Rose or that Chris Jericho looked like Shawn Michaels in his rockers days for about five years. I you want to compare every wrestler that spat in the face of authority in wrestling you could go on forever but lets name just a few.

Roddy Piper- As i said before, Rowdy Roddy Piper was raising hell in WWF while Austin was Rick Rudes Bitch in WCW. Should we slap Austin on the wrist for being like Piper"

Jesse Ventura- Jesse did what he wanted, when he wanted. No he wasnt wearing black boots and black tights to do it but Jesse Raised hell on and off camera for WWE. Gee is a pattern emerging"

Taz- While Austin was beating up McMahon in WWF (Oops i mean WWE, dont want the pandas attacking me in a dark alley) Taz was kicking ass and raising hell in ECW. His character didnt follows rules, He did some REAL cursing and was more in your face than Austin.

The Sandman- Staying in ECW, The Sandman drunk more beers before one match than Austin did in a PPV year. He was a bigger redneck, who drank more beer and did exactly what he wanted for years. Call the police, he stole Austin's bit.

Your arguement is weak and shows no sense, the fact is that time moves on, people base themselves on people they have seen before them. Chris Jericho and Stevie Richards based themselves on Shawn Michaels, Chris Benoit was from the same mould as Bret Hart and Even the God that is STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN took his cue from others before him. You are just someone who clearly doesnt like John Cena. I didnt notice you compare Randy Ortons attempts to try and be the next Rock, or what about Carlito, his promos resemble the Rock in 1997 when he joined the nation. John Cena has found his niche, he is a success, he sells t-shirts, sells arenas and sells PPVs. and to steal from Mr Austin, Thats the Bottom line.
Adam wrote:
Everyones a rip off these days. Its the lasting legacy of the stars, how many times can you be ripped off. Austin was a rip off of the Sandman (less extreme obviousley), Goldberg initally was WCW's answer to Shamrock. Its a common thing. The kids that watch WWE these days dont care. They didnt see Austin spraying the beer at vince and his cronies, they didnt see The Rock throw the intercontinental title off the bridge. They didnt see Bret take a hissy fit (the "ive been screwed speach" which im surprised hasnt been ripped off yet"). Enjoy the wrestling, and take humor in how Cena is basically a bad rip off of Stone Cold. Austin will always be bigger than Cena, he will always be the only guy who can be mentioned in the same breath as Hogan, rip offs are inevitable, im just surprised its took them so long to do it.
Peter T Aagaard. wrote:
This is mostly a reply to Tom McCarthy's remark about attitude being an integrated part of wrestling history. I certainly agree that Roddy Piper and Jesse Ventura have shown attitude in the past, but I think the original author of the column has a better point than you give him credit for.

First of all, the breaking of kayfabe is fairly new, so while Piper may have been sticking it to Vince we didn't know much about it, since the 'real' world wasn't an integrated part of wrestling at the time, and didn't really become so until the Montreal Screwjob and - I guess Steve Austin.

Right now the angles they develop in the WWE are so close to the storyline with Steve Austin and Mcmahon in the attitude era that it feels repetitive to most fans, not just the historians. It's somewhat reminiscent of the time, when WWF tried to replace Hulk Hogan with Warrior, Sid Justice, Lex Luger and so forth - if the heir to the thrown walks and talks too much like the original article, it takes away from the originality and surprise of the product.

John Cena is a great entertainer in my opinion, but he'd be better as a midcarder in the long run, because right now he's just too over to pull off the underdog/outsider image, that is needed to make a fued against the powers that be entertaining. I really think the WWE need to focus on building up some good heels, because right now the faces go from one predictible win to the other.

Oh, and I think you confuse Playboy Buddy Rose with Nature Boy Buddy Rogers as Ric Flairs inspiration for nickname and finisher. That's okay though, it's not like I ever saw Buddy Rogers wrestle either - we're all products of the era we grew up in, and that doesn't make our opinion on repetition any less valid.
Brian Folan wrote:
I have to agree with Mr. McCarthy on this one. I'll agree that Cena attacking Bischoff was eerily reminiscent of the first time that Vince caught a stunner, but calling Cena a Stone Cold rip-off is unfair. The "anti-establishment rebel" character was hardly original when Stone Cold adopted it. He wasn't even the only one using that type of character in his era let alone in history. D-X, the nWo, weren't these just a bunch of rebels out to buck the system" The clear difference in the rebel characters is why they won't "fall in line" with the bosses. Stone Cold's character was a loner who was going to do what he wanted to do and nobody could tell him otherwise. Stone Cold didn't care what the fans thought, what other wrestlers thought, or what Vince thought. That was what the "Stone Cold Salute" was all about, he was saying "F all of you, I'm my own person." Cena isn't like that at all. He's not a loner, he's not a mean, nasty, rattlesnake SOB. Cena's sole purpose is to serve the fans. He "takes care of the people who take care of him." Cena is "real (him) recognized by real (fans)." Cena won't bow to Bischoff because the fans wouldn't want him to. Stone Cold wouldn't bow to Vince because he didn't want to. Cena was happy to team up with HBK and Hogan then bow to them as they pose in the ring after the match. Stone Cold would have won the match, let them start posing, then flipped them both off and dropped them with a pair of stunners. The bottom line is you can't do much in wrestling that hasn't been done before, so if we really need to get picky, Cena ripped off the rap gimmick from Public Enemy and Men on a Mission, the rebel gimmick from Stone Cold and 100 others before him, and the "it's all for the fans" gimmick from The People's Champ The Rock. Oh, and he stole the Godfather's Pimp Drop (Death Valley Driver) as a finisher. Mr. Sturgess, I can respect the fact that no facet of Cena's character is entirely original, but he is far from a "Stone Clone." You list "bad language" as the first similarity between the two. Bad language" Every wrestler on Earth uses some bad language in their promos. Neither bad language, nor the middle finger are the exclusive property of Steve Austin. And the feud with JBL" How is that similar to Austin-McMahon" The lower class thug feuding with the upper class aristocrat, is that what you mean" Well it doesn't work too well if a lower class thug feuds with a lower class thug, it would go something like this, "You're a no class dirtbag thug." "No, you are." "No, you are." I think you get the point. And the Hulk Hogan analogy" That's just the way it was back in that era. Babyfaces were "good guys," they waved the American flag, they told kids not to smoke or do drugs, they extolled the benefits of exercise and vitamins. Are you saying that every babyface before 1996 was a Hogan rip-off" The bottom line is that certain types of characters work, and to create a successful character you have to borrow from other successful characters. There is a reason people are accused of ripping off The Rock, Stone Cold, HBK, Flair, Hogan, etc., and no one is ever accused of ripping off Bastion Booger, the Repo Man, Duke the Dumpster, or the Brooklyn Brawler.
Freddy Sturguess (original author) wrote:
To Mr. Kuhn, who said "Hopefully we won't have to hear any stupid raps anymore." I hoped so too, and hadn't heard Cena rap in his promos as much...until his CD came out, and in two days there will be the dreaded battle of the bands on Raw.

To Mr. McCarthy: Nowhere did I say Stone Cold was the first wrestler with an attitude. A wrestler without an attitude is like a buffet without meat. I said that the storylines and angles involving John Cena are carbon copies of those that involved Austin. Now to address the "turn attention elsewhere with What about [insert wrestler here]"" responses.

I hate to turn the attention of this column elsewhere but..."Slap Austin on the wrist for being like Piper"" Not necessary, because Austin never copied Piper. Both were innovators of their time, but in completely different ways; Piper had his infamous interview segment Piper's Pit which led to many outrageous moments such as Morton Downey Jr. getting a fire extinguisher to the face and Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka getting wacked with a coconut, not to mention his unpredictable antics in the ring such as painting himself half-black for his match against Bad News Brown at Wrestlemania VI. Austin has ripped off none of this. As for the other weak points, Tazz and The Sandman...outlandish, racy wrestlers in Extreme Championship Wrestling"! No! Unheard of! By the way as I recall Austin was in ECW as well. And the Jesse "The Body" Ventura reference is puzzling, as the things he is known for have absolutely no similarities with Piper or Austin. "Did what he wanted." Um, isn't that the M.O. of basically all wrestlers" Nobody's ripping off anybody if they're just "doing what they want." Most, if not all, wrestlers are outrageous, but most keep it in their own way, unlike the WWE is handling Cena.

I'll be the first to admit, I've seen footage of Piper shooting a ref the finger. But he didn't make it his trademark. Speaking of which; if the next time Austin comes to the ring he's wearing a leather jacket and kilt or playing the bagpipes, then he'll deserve a slap on the wrist. If Carlito or Randy Orton start keeping an eyebrow raised or saying "If you smell what I'm cooking" then they'll deserve a slap on the wrist. Piper never drove a monster truck over his rival's car, he never drove a beer truck into the arena, he never blew up an opponent's bus, he never disguised himself as a doctor and assaulted his boss with a bedpan. That's right, the boss, the system, the owner of a large and successful company, an angle that Cena and the WWE are desperately trying to duplicate, which has been my point all along.

P.S. Addressing your points that have nothing to do with any of this. Although it's off track and has nothing to do with this column, and although I'm not a Randy Orton fan by any means, I don't believe he's ripping off The Rock by simply being extremely arrogant. That's what wrestlers were doing long before The Rock, way back to the hated "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers (or as for some reason he was confused with "The Playboy" Buddy ROSE). That's the bad part about jumping the gun and making assumptions; your assumptions often are incorrect when you jump the gun...as a matter of fact I've often wondered why Ric Flair calls himself "The Nature Boy" and uses the figure 4 leglock, just like Rogers did. Is that where "To be the man you gotta beat the man" came from" And finally, your "point" about Chris Jericho looking like Shawn Michaels and Hogan looking like Billy Graham...that's about as pointless and irrelevant a comparison as rock critics slamming Steven Tyler of Aerosmith because he has a physical resemblance to the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger.
Chris wrote:
Regarding your article blasting John Cena, I can agree with you on some points. I admit the guy isn't a good rapper (I watched that "battle of the bands" last week and it proved it) and he can be a tad corny but I do think he can be a powerful force when he wants to be. Cena certainly isn't a push-over. He nailed JBL in that "I Quit" match and took quite a beating himself. Still, seeing him beat by Carlito (with the help of Y2J) last week has made me think that maybe Bischoff is right to say John's reign as champ might soon be over. To be honest I don't think Carlito will win the title from him next week but I think Cena maybe only has another month or two left before he loses that title, probably to Y2J. I honestly think he was better placed on the Smackdown roster, he is fighting in a different league on Raw and I think Raw fans including myself don't really relate to him. As for his wrestling style, it is far from innovative but he doesn't suck either. If it wins him matches then good, let him use a select group of moves. Basically I'm not a big fan of John Cena but he isn't all bad either, I can find faults in plenty of other superstars on Raw, Cena is only "okay" in my books. I'm actually enjoying that rivalry he has going with Y2J, I think it's kind of cool.
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