WWE Hall Of Famer Recalls Respecting John Cena After Dealing With Booing Fans

John Cena

John Cena earned a veteran wrestler’s respect early into his career for how he dealt with an unwanted crowd reaction.

Cena is no stranger to polarizing crowd reactions; he has been getting them more or less nonstop since 2005 or 2006. Fans loved to boo him so much that at times they would rather chant against him (i.e. “Cena sucks”) than chant for his opponent.

One person who witnessed this hatred towards John Cena firsthand is WWE Hall of Famer Rob Van Dam. RVD had a mini-feud with Cena in 2006 and the two wrestled at that year’s ECW One Night Stand PPV.

The reaction Cena got just by showing up was downright venomous. There were signs that read “if Cena wins, we riot”, fans threw his shirt back at him a few times, and the match was filled with expletive-laden chants aimed at the then-WWE Champion.

But that wasn’t the first time John Cena dealt with such passionately hostile fans. During an interview with Chris Van Vliet, RVD explained that Cena earned his respect by dealing with an angry crowd a few years earlier, long before either of them were in the main-event scene.

“I did see him get booed by the whole crowd before. That was in Wales. That was early in my WWE days. So I don’t know probably 2003 or 2004 seems like, I don’t know, but I was shocked. Because I hadn’t seen that before at that point.

Everyone [was like] ‘boo’ and then he got on the microphone. He cut this promo. He said ‘You can boo me. Yeah, keep it up. Let’s go.’

He was like, ‘That’s what we want, man. As long as you’re screaming and you’re voicing your opinion. That means you’re ready to go and that you’re ready for wrestling.’ He was like ‘That’s all we want either way. We wanna make sure you’re having a good time. So keep it up.’

He turned them and made me a much bigger fan of his at that moment. I was like ‘Wow, he knows how to turn the whole crowd that hated him into loving him in two minutes.’”

John Cena’s last televised match was on the December 30th, 2022 edition of SmackDown, where he and Kevin Owens beat Roman Reigns and Sami Zayn in a tag team match.

h/t SEScoops for the transcriptions