Have you heard the big news? John Cena is returning way early from yet another serious injury! This time around, he’s set to return to Raw on Memorial Day, which is only fitting given the history that Cena and Memorial Day have together.
Back in 2012, Cena missed the Memorial Day edition of Raw, which drew a frighteningly low rating of 2.7 (otherwise known as “above average” in 2016).
Of course, WWE has always known that there’s only one person who can be trusted to boost ratings…
…and his name is John Cena! No, really, it is.
And of course, this was also true back in 2012, when WWE responded to its ratings woes by having the Mastur of the Five-Knuckle Shuffle shamelessly amuse himself in front of a world wide audience.
The June 4th, 2012 edition of Raw opened with Michael Cole grilling John Cena for not being sufficiently sensitive to the Big Show’s public firing on Raw three weeks earlier. Big Show claimed that this snub drove him to cost Cena his match and to save the job of John Laurinaitis (who fired Show in the first place).
Cena defended his perceived indifference to Big Show’s firing with some pretty sound logic: Big Show was virtually guaranteed his job back anyway, provided Cena beat and ousted Big Johnny from the company. See, sometimes those plot holes on WWE TV come in handy!
Still, Cole, who noted that WWE Superstars cannot get physical with announcers, pressed on in an obnoxious manner that the WWE Universe hadn’t seen or heard from the lead commentator in months.
Heel Cole had already gotten his comeuppance at the proverbial hands of Jerry Lawler, in their Kiss My Foot Match on May 22nd. May 22nd of the previous year. And he had been pretty quiet ever since, barring the occasional rap battle with Jim Ross.
This was especially out of character given that, even as an irritating, biased heel announcer, Cole had gone pretty easy on Cena. The Dr. of Thuganomics even hugged the decidedly heelish Cole after getting fired in late 2010.
But between the finger-poking and the accusations of John being “overrated,” it seemed like Cole was begging to get his ass kicked, specifically that night, specifically in the main event.
Sure enough, John Laurinaitis offered John Cena a match against an opponent of his choosing. Being the man he was, Cena immediately challenged the scooter-bound Raw GM, but Big Johnny rejected the request on the grounds that he was now officially retired from in-ring competition (a retirement which would last two weeks).
Naturally, Cena’s second choice was his new mortal enemy, Michael Cole, who had been a thorn in his side for literally minutes. And besides, there might have been a rule against wrestling retired performers, but, besides the rule Michael Cole had cited minutes earlier forbidding Superstars from hitting announcers, there was nothing forbidding Cena from hitting an announcer!
Near the end of the show, however, John Laurinaitis sprung a surprise opponent on Cena in the form of future Wrestlecrap inductee Lord Tensai. If Cena lost, his match with Cole would be called off. If he won, his match with Cole would be contested with no disqualifications.
Michael Cole was brimming with so much confidence that Tensai would win and cancel his match with Cena that he actually slapped John in the face.
To the head Cole Miner, it was inconceivable that Tensai, who had beaten Cena the previous month, could lose to Cena tonight. Unfortunately, Cole was unfamiliar with the terms “Super Cena” and “50/50 booking,” as Cena beat the future Brodus Clay sidekick.
Viewers were then treated to the sounds of Michael Cole pleading for his life in real time before he attempted an escape. I ask you, what kind of wrestler would back down from a fight just because his opponent is bigger and stronger than he is? Oh, right. He wasn’t any kind of wrestler at all.
Cena dragged Cole back to the ring while giving him noogies like some kind of… what’s the word I’m looking for? Not a star, but something Cena had been telling kids not to be…
Cole got on the mic to apologize and offered a handshake to avoid the ensuing bloodbath, but Cena was too brave to accept his surrender.
In one last salvo, Cole stood up to the overconfident Cena and embarrass him like John Laurinaitis had embarrassed him at Over the Limit just two weeks prior.
And for all intents and purposes, Cena-Cole was the same match as Cena-Laurinatis. In fact, I was tempted to simply copy-and-paste my write-up on that embarrassment, replace the words “John Laurinaitis” with “Michael Cole,” and call it a day. But then, readers might be wondering when exactly Michael Cole had won a Wrestling Observer award for match of the year.
The main difference between this match and the John Laurinaitis match was that instead of Cena pouring water on his opponent to simulate him wetting his pants, Cena simply stripped Cole to his underwear.
But other than that, Cena stuck to the same antics that had won him the admiration of kids the world over, such as…
…misusing a fire extinguisher…
…and sticking a microphone in his opponent’s face as he tortured him.
In this case, Cena made Cole apologize to Jerry Lawler for their Wrestlemania match, despite the fact that Michael had already done exactly that, voluntarily, over a year earlier.
He also forced Cole to apologize to JR, whose hand Cole had shaken at Wrestlemania 28 before welcoming him back to the announce table.
Jerry Lawler happened to have JR’s Barbecue Sauce on hand, which he claimed he always brought to Raw.
This statement will always be one of the great mysteries of WWE, given that (with the exception of the occasional bucket of KFC grilled chicken, delicious Subway sandwich, or complimentary Sonic meal) the announcers never eat on the job.
Cena then doused the half-naked Michael Cole with barbecue sauce, just as Jerry had done the year before. This barbecue sauce spot doesn’t even get points for irony – Michael Cole wasn’t the one always shilling the stuff – that was Jim Ross – yet he was the one getting covered in it. Likewise, Michael Cole wasn’t the one constantly cheering when WWE performers were stripped to their underwear – that was The King – yet he was the one getting pantsed.
Not only was Cena, who had been profiled by the Washington Post for his anti-bullying message two months earlier, breaking his own supposed moral code here, but he hadn’t even learned his lesson from the last time he toyed around with a victim instead of pinning him and putting him out of his misery. Just as the Big Show knocked out Cena before John could be bothered to try to win the match, Lord Tensai re-emerged and leveled Cena, opening up the possibility for another monumental upset.
This time, Cole had no such luck, and Cena kicked out of the pin attempt…
…to deliver the smokiest and most savory Attitude Adjustment in recent memory to the saucy announcer.
John finally got the pin, but still wasn’t finished tormenting Michael Cole, ignoring his pleas for mercy and emptying the rest of the fire extinguisher’s contents on him.
The anti-bullying crusader John Cena let the hapless non-wrestler know that even when it was over, it was never really over.
The John Cena-Michael Cole main event demonstrated WWE hypocrisy at its worst, plain and simple. Not only did the company’s top spokesperson for an anti-bullying campaign sadistically manhandle and humiliate someone clearly weaker than him…
…but Vince McMahon no doubt laughed himself silly when Michael Cole got sauced and embarrassed the company…
…only to fire Jim Ross because Ric Flair did the exact same thing.