If John Cena existed in the world of My Hero Academia, his superpowers (or quirks as the show and manga calls them) would be hustle, loyalty and respect. He would also have enough physical strength to punch through a skyscraper, but I’m fairly sure he could achieve such a feat in our reality anyway. However, someone like him already exists in the world conjured up by Kōhei Horikoshi, and his name is All Might.
If you’re not familiar with the anime or manga, All Might is a larger-than-life character who has become the symbol of heroism on a global scale. Known for saving the day, defeating baddies, and acting as a morally superior bastion of hope, All Might is initially seen as an indestructible hero that keeps the planet balanced between the forces of good and evil.
I’m fairly sure he also abides by the sacred tenets of hustle, loyalty and respect that John Cena has made so iconic in his years as a WWE Superstar. Cena’s even tweeted artwork from the show on his weirdly surreal Instagram account, hinting that perhaps the man that can’t be seen is working with the franchise in some manner. But that’s a tale for another day, what I really want to talk about is how All Might is just like John Cena in so many distinct ways.
Wrestling has always been a passionate hobby of mine, and I’m only a tiny bit ashamed to admit it. It’s top-tier scripted wankery, but elicits a sense of drama and satisfaction that is weirdly similar to anime. You become invested in fanatical superstars as they fight through rivalry after rivalry, all culminating in epic showdowns at WrestleMania, otherwise known as the showcase of the immortals.
In and outside of the squared circle, John Cena has always fought the good fight. He’s like Master Chief but instead of fighting fascist aliens he’s beating up muscly men fighting for corporate overlords. He’s never had a heel turn (which is wrestling lingo for turning bad), which is a testament to his character and how much faith fans both young and old have placed in him. Veteran fans love to hate Cena, but they can’t deny how much the Doctor of Thuganomics has done for the business.
But there have always been shades of darkness written into his character, casting doubts on his status as a guardian of the light. All Might possesses similar shades of black and white, his past clouded in enough mystery that fans have drawn up ample theories on who he is, where he came from, and whether or not Midoriya Izuku’s childhood hero could falter.
The beautiful thing is that All Might has failed, but rose from the ashes to deliver some of the most iconic moments in recent anime history. His mortal confrontation with All For One ends with the deployment of the United States of Smash, a beautifully absurd move which is weirdly American given his Japanese origins. You know, I think it might just have been inspired by John Cena. What a beautiful weeaboo bombshell that would be.
John Cena has been through similar turmoil, with real-life injuries throwing his wrestling career into disarray only for him to return at the most unexpected moment. Prior to the 2008 Royal Rumble, Cena was taken out of action with a serious injury. It required surgery, and recovery was predicted to take several months. However, John Cena is superhuman, and returned as the final entrant at that year’s rumble to win a title shot at WrestleMania.
It was positively electrifying, with fans (and a very young Jade) staring in disbelief as their wrestling hero marched into the ring like a genuine superhero, proving that injury could be overcome and to never give up, the latter becoming another one of his signature catchphrases in the years to come. Even today, The Chain Gang Soldier is held in high regard. He’s also in Bumblebee, the best Transformers movie, and sings Do They Know It’s Christmas in Daddy’s Home 2.
Both of these moments expressed a similar atmosphere of otherworldly hype, occasions that leave goosebumps on your skin as you simply watch in awe as the spectacle unfolds. It might be cliche, but watching fictional characters you admire overcome adversity will never grow old, even if we do. You can mock anime and wrestling for being weird and goofy for the most part, but little nuggets of brilliance show that there’s legitimate artistry to the craft.
If My Hero Academia ever dares to venture into the realm of live-action adaptations, I couldn’t care less about Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Cena is only the person I could picture giving All Might the performance and presence he deserves. Probably because, in the end, they are very similar characters who will always do what’s right, even if it means putting themselves in harm’s way.
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Jade King is one of the Features Editors for TheGamer. Previously head of gaming content over at Trusted Reviews, she can be found talking about games, anime and retweeting Catradora fanart @KonaYMA6.
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