John Cena's return to WWE television has been nothing short of a spectacle, as the multi-talented performer balances his Hollywood commitments amidst industry strikes to captivate fans once more on "WWE SmackDown." Although Cena has diversified his portfolio with a successful acting career, his wrestling roots are far from forgotten.
It was the early 2000s when Cena initially made a splash in WWE with a gimmick that seemed rather unconventional for the squared circle—The "Doctor of Thuganomics." The character had Cena spitting bars and hurling unfiltered insults at his opponents.
Recently, WWE legend Kurt Angle, who engaged in numerous high-profile matches with Cena, shed light on the impact of this unique persona during an episode of "The Kurt Angle Show." "John was exceptional with the gimmick.
The talent in the locker room instantly knew he was onto something big. No one was laughing; it was evident that Cena had hit the jackpot," Angle commented. "Honestly, there was a tinge of envy among some of us." While the rap gimmick unquestionably won over WWE's passionate fanbase, it also had a vital role in turning Cena's then-stalling wrestling career around.
To further capitalize on this newfound popularity, Cena even released a studio album, "You Can't See Me," that included two of his iconic WWE entrance themes and collaborations with artists like Bumpy Knuckles and Big L. What's often overlooked, however, is the legitimizing effect the gimmick had on incorporating elements of hip-hop culture into professional wrestling—a move that has since seen follow-up in other talents and storylines.
Cena's seamless blend of entertainment genres not only saved his career but also left an indelible impact on the industry, serving as a precursor to the modern, multifaceted WWE Superstar. "Everyone was in awe; it was like this guy's got something, and the rest of us should probably start taking notes," Angle added, reflecting on Cena's monumental impact.
As Cena continues to appear on "WWE SmackDown," albeit sporadically due to his acting obligations, it’s clear that the "Doctor of Thuganomics" laid the groundwork for one of the most illustrious careers in WWE history, a fact even his greatest rivals, like Angle, can't help but acknowledge.