John Cena has a reputation in the WWE for burying the younger talent, who have a chance to take his spot in the company.
Over the years, a number of wrestlers have claimed to have been held down, pushed aside or buried by John Cena. Whether this is simply bitterness, or a symptom of a Hogan-like Complex from The Champ remains to be seen.
There was a long period of time in the WWE where John Cena was the top star in the company, where fans accused him of holding down the younger stars on Raw.
This came during a time, sometimes known as “The Lost Generation”, where a whole host of talented youngsters failed to be pushed into the main event, resulting in a stale product that was dominated by Cena on the top.
It would make sense that John Cena, a huge star in the WWE, would hold down this young talent, in a search to keep himself on top of the company for as long as possible.
In this article, we’ll explore just which stars were reportedly buried by John Cena, and how their careers panned out after being “held down” by The Champ.
Perhaps the most egregious of John Cena’s burial in WWE was the sad case of Zack Ryder.
If you started watching wrestling in the years following, you may be shocked to learn that Zack Ryder was one of the most popular wrestlers in the entire company – despite not being on TV.
Before social media took over the world as we know it, the former Intercontinental Champion took advantage of this new-age technology to keep in touch with the fans.
He created Z! True Long Island Story, a Youtube show that poked fun at his wrestling career and helped establish his character in the WWE. This was a huge hit by fans, and he quickly racked up millions of views on Youtube.
Fans loved Zack Ryder, and even chanted for him during a segment involving The Rock.
However, he would not be allowed to get too over. He was made on-screen friends with John Cena, who leached off his popularity before stealing his girlfriend (Eve Torres), before Kane threw him off the stage in a wheelchair.
Ryder went from being the top merchandise seller (despite having one shirt) and getting huge cheers, to being rarely featured on TV, and not winning a match for many years.
All because he was buried by John Cena.
Former WWE Superstar Tyler Reks has claimed that he was buried by John Cena early on his career, due to the similarities in their finishing moves.
After being called up to the main roster, Reks began to use a safer version of the “Burning Hammer”. The move was created by Kenta Kobashi as a “super finisher”, and saw him perform an inverted fireman’s carry driver, dropping his opponents directly onto their necks.
Tyler Reks made a much safer version of this move, but it was ostensibly just an inverted-AA (the AA was John Cena’s finisher).
John Cena was (fairly) miffed at this, and confronted Reks. The latter later claimed that he was shouted at by Cena, who later “buried” him and put an end to his push in the WWE.
“Anyone want to know what top guy forced me to stop using the burning hammer – even after it appeared on SD/RAW and PPV’s?”
“1st house show loop, Cena asks pulls me aside, degrades me like I’m 10 years & tells me if I use it again I’d me fired.”
“He yelled at me & said, “Who gave u permission to use that”? Apparently he hadn’t been watching the product 4 the last 8 months.”
Wade Barrett (The Nexus)
One of the biggest mistakes by John Cena came at Summerslam 2010, when he completely buried both Wade Barrett and The Nexus as a whole.
In the summer of 2010, the biggest story in the WWE was John Cena’s battle with The Nexus. Barrett was looking to become the first British WWE Champion, but standing in his way was a coalition led by Cena.
The Nexus looked as strong as any debuting faction ever (rivalling even The Shield), and looked set to cement their status with a big win at Summerslam 2010.
They wrestled against “Team Cena” at Summerslam 2010, in a 7-on-7 match included stars like Edge, Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan and even Bret Hart.
While it seemed clear that The Nexus should win the match to continue their momentum, WWE and John Cena put an end to it. While Edge and Jericho pushed to lose the match, John Cena decided the finish of the match should be him taking a DDT onto concrete, yet coming back to win.
This completely killed any momentum Wade Barrett had, and a few losses later to Randy Orton and John Cena, and he was just another member of the roster – light years away from the world title.
Wade Barrett recently spoke about this time in his career, and felt like he wasn’t on the same level as John Cena during this time.
Obviously, there was a huge disparity between where he was at career-wise and where I was at. There was never that level – I never felt like we were level as peers, when it came to putting the matches together or working on storylines or anything like that. ‘Whereas shortly after that, I would have programmes with Kofi Kingston who I very much saw as my kind of level at the time in 2011. We’d gone through developmental together and I felt much more comfortable working with him. ‘You just have to take those opportunities when they come, and I was very, very grateful to be in there with John Cena.’
WrestleMania 30 buried Bray Wyatt’s character, when he had the chance to become a huge star by taking out John Cena once and for all.
While he never did the heel turn fans always wanted him to, John Cena’s feud with Bray Wyatt seemed like the closest he ever came to turning to the dark side.
The creepy cult leader based him promos on the fact that Cena could not be the virtuous hero he claimed to be, and made it his mission to bring out the evil in The Champ.
The pair wrestled at WrestleMania 30, which Wyatt spending the match trying to convince Cena to turn. He sunk to his knees and handed him a chair, hoping for Cena to hit him, making his turn complete.
Instead, he threw the chair away, hit the AA and pinned Wyatt for the win. This made Bray Wyatt look like a huge loser, and John Cena completely buried his character as being a rambling madman, with nothing to back it up.
John Cena Talks About “Burying” Wrestlers
While John Cena has generally kept quiet about these rumours over the years, he recently finally discussed his part in burying the young WWE talent.
Speaking on Busted Open Radio, Cena spoke about the label that he was responsible for burying other wrestlers:
“The reputation I had in the sauce, while I was in it, was I buried talent because I really invest my whole heart in this. I sat with Austin Theory for like 10 hours, invested a day to talk about our why, like what’s our story gonna be? I would do that with everyone. I live it. My heart’s on the plate. But after they were me, they didn’t take that energy with them, but I gave it to the next guy. So who’s next? It was, and now it’s Kevin Owens. Alright, Kevin, come here, we’re gonna sit down for two weeks and just talk about stuff. Then we’re gonna go out there and try some crazy stuff, see what works, and put our best foot forward. Kevin’s done. Sami, no problem.”
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.