In Hollywood's ring, John Cena has an advantage over Dwayne Johnson
The "you can't see me" tag-liner is making his presence felt and we see him scale the Hollywood ladder with wit, humor and goofy monologues.
Quite a few WWE superstars have attempted to transition from the wrestling ring to Hollywood, but none could top the 118 kg seven consecutive WWE champion Dwayne Douglas Johnson, popularly known by his ring name "The Rock."
The two have been endlessly drawing comparisons for treading a similar route to stardom but Cena knows The Rock has set the "bar high," especially after five of his movies surpassed the $500 million blockbuster mark, with two of them even crossing the vaunted $1 billion mark.
But we are talking about John Cena, who has grappled with Dwayne Johnson in the ring before and isn't backing off from a fight in Hollywood for a place in mainstream pop culture.
Just like in the ring when the opponent's advantage is used to beset a disadvantage, in the same manner, Cena is maneuvering his strength in Johnson's weakness -- comedy.
One of the highest paid actors in Hollywood currently, Johnson had initially lent his acting skills to comedy but failed miserably until he found his true calling in action films.
In 2001, the movie Longshot turned out to be an epic failure; so did 2005's Be Cool with John Travolta and Uma Thurman, followed by Southland Tales in 2006 and Toothfairy in 2010.
Even one of the latest, Baywatch in 2017, met a disappointing fate, undermining Johnon's comedic mettle. Johnson's feature-film debut in 2001's 'The Mummy Returns,' where he played a villainous ruler followed by a reprisal role in 'The Scorpion King,' were the silver lining in his acting career.
As of today, we see him doing action flicks, rendering enough justice to his super roles as a muscular family guy running around and firing guns.
On the other hand, Cena debuted in an action thriller flick 'The Marine' in 2006 and followed up on the action in 2009 crime action movie '12 rounds'.
Neither the movies nor Cena’s performances were memorable so it wasn’t until 2015, when he had scene-stealing roles in 'Trainwreck,' 'Sisters,' and 'Daddy’s Home,' that multiplex audiences learned that Cena was more of a funny man than an intimidating presence.
These acts drew a marked distinction between Dwayne and Cena, proving that the latter was an edgier actor who did not mind stripping, cross-dressing and making people laugh their hearts out.
In the recent comedy movie 'Blockers,' Cena's most significant role yet, he has proved that he is a gifted comedian, who despite having a potential to toss people across the room, is actually a sensitive man immensely concerned about his daughter.
Sealing the deal as a powerful comic actor, it isn't fair to compare Cena with Dwayne, because let's face it Dwayne Johnson failed at comedy but excelled in action, while Cena failed as an action star before proving himself as a gifted comic actor.
Also, Cena has offered more of himself to the silver screen than Dwayne has. We might have seen Dwayne Johnson's butt in an office sex scene in 'Ballers' but we saw John Cena completely nude in 'Trainwreck' and 'Blockers'.
Besides Cena's explicit sex scenes, he proves his goofy self when in 'Trainwreck' he threatens a fellow movie-goer shouting, "I will fuck you, all right!? I will enter you!”.
But his angry dialogue prompts more confusion than fear. The Super Cena we had been seeing in the WWE ring, who could render his would-be opponent unconscious with ease, brings his silly side in the movie, so when Amy Schumer's character asks what he’s doing, he whispers back, “I’m trying to intimidate him,” but with a mistaken conclusion that Cena would like to sleep with the person he is feuding with.
His trash-talk brings about a dose of humor.
But Cena's silly on-screen persona is not unknown to ardent WWE fans. The scripted WWE performances revealed Cena's humorous side that birthed many memes and GIFs in the last decade as it turned out he was good at improvising.
He emerged as one of the company’s most gifted speakers and performer because who wouldn't want to see a 6’1″, 251 lb. frame turn goofy?
The 40-year-old big built wrestler has also won the non-WWE fans with his abiding love for children. Referred to be a teddy bear at heart, Cena has fulfilled nearly 600 wishes for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, more than any other celebrity.
He recently hosted the Kids' Choice Awards on Nickelodeon and is set to release his first children's book, "Elbow Grease," in October. The brief about the book is an undersized monster truck with big determination, based on his own life experience.
According to a representative from Random House Children’s Books, Cena’s trademark “sense of humor and scrappiness,” will shine through enough for the book to be enjoyed by people of all ages.
Cena in his interview said,“With Elbow Grease and the books to follow, I want to offer kids a fun and engaging way to learn about the power of ambition, dedication, and heart. These concepts have been transformative in my life…so important to me to pass the positivity on and help our youngest generation see that right mindset is key to achievement.”
But only days after showing up on a kids' stage and dressing up as the host of Blue's Clues, Cena shuffled back to his intimidating self on WWE, threatening the Undertaker for WrestleMania, and losing the match on April 8.
This however, was a win-win situation since Undertaker can take pride in defeating Cena after his "age" threats as a retiring champion, but Cena can also free his schedules to focus on his acting career.
John Cena may have come from the world of professional wrestling but his transition into acting has laid out new priorities. He is determined to rebuild his own image as a hefty comedian and there isn't many objections.
But we cannot speak for The Rock, who said on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Kimmel, that the rivalry he had with Cena in WWE was a real deal.
"Our rivalry was so real," Johnson told Kimmel. "We had real problems with each other. We really did."
And though 'The Rampage' star said he is rooting for Cena, while he makes his transition into acting, he jokingly threatened, "Listen, DJ always wants to remind you that if he ever acts up, he will knock his teeth so far down his throat that he'll stick a toothbrush up his ass to brush them."
The very next day Cena appeared on the show and gave a hilarious monologue staring at the camera: "I'm not gonna take that! Listen up Dwayne Johnson, if that is your real name....If you think you're making threats to me by thinking shoving a toothbrush up my bum is a threat, I've got some advice for you, pal – and by pal I totally mean my best friend and I don't mean it in an adversarial term – watch Blockers and then watch it again! Because if you think shoving a toothbrush up my butt is a threat, you've got news coming pal. There's been a funnel up there, there's been a parking cone, there's more traffic in that region than a Monday on the 405 in both directions. I'm not gonna take this lying down. Let's analyze what a toothbrush and toothpaste does, it cleans, right? So your threat to me is you want to clean my butt? So the question I have for you, T-Herock, is – do you really want to smell what John Cena's putting out?"
The response received a standing ovation from the audience and Jimmy Kimmel himself.
The show must go on, be it the WWE or the silver screen and the apparent rivalry between The Rock and John Cena is nothing but a similar reflection of the feud between The Rock and Hulk Hogan, as Hogan was the first to have attempted to make the crossover from professional wrestler to family-friendly film star back in the early 1990s with movies like Suburban Commando and Mr Nanny.
The Rock just did it better, raking in more than $1 billion at the box office so far this year. So could The Rock be in Hulk Hogan's side of the bay now with Cena ready to dominate the silver screen?
However, the understanding and respect the two champions have for each other is felt despite the rivalry drama.
“Oh, no. Dwayne? There's only one Dwayne Johnson. I'd like to be myself, so I'll find a path doing something. I don't know if it's going to be filling his shoes. He's set the bar pretty high,” Cena said in 2014.
The WWE fans are aware of Cena's loyalty and respect. The "you can't see me" tag-liner is making his presence felt and we see him scale the Hollywood ladder with wit, humor and goofy monologues.