Someone recently brought up memories about HHH's never ending title run in 2003. This prompted me to bring up Cena's current run as "the man" and it made me think, who's has been worse?
John Cena has been the man in WWE since about 2005. While he may have been surpassed by Batista for a brief period of time, he's been the guy for the better part of 8 years.
John Cena is quite the interesting guy. He went from having the majority of the internet fans praising him to the majority of the internet fans hating him. He's probably the first ever star who has been consistently booed and cheered everywhere for years on end. As for his ringwork, it's been largely the same throughout his career. He still cannot execute a believable STF to save his life and his overall execution, promos and comebacks are generally laughable(minus temporary adjustments).
What can you say about HHH. The next in line to run the company, the ego-maniac and the career killer. He's been WWE's version of Ric Flair for years. He's mostly been seen as the man in WWE up until around 2006 when John Cena started to overpass him. His biggest reign came was from his return at the '02 Rumble until about halfway through his DX run with Shawn Michaels through 2006-2007.
HHH is not as interesting. He's a typical WWE main eventer who may for years has been public enemy #1 until John Cena took over. He's mostly average all around and like Cena, has not changed much over the years.
Let's compare the two reigns shall we:
John Cena's reign of terror has mostly featured feuds against Edge, Wade Barrett/Nexus, Randy Orton and the Rock. While the matches with all of these guys were pretty good, none of them really were that interesting except for his feud with the Rock and Nexus, until they screwed up Nexus.
HHH had a more varied list of foes and fueds. HHH has feuds with Goldberg, Scott Steiner, Batista, Undertaker and Randy Orton.
I would say that Cena's feuds have been less harmless but also less interesting. I would say that HHH's feuds have been more harmful and to a degree more interesting due to HHH's many various opponents over the years. HHH also benefits from Evolution and his good storytelling feud with Batista. I would give HHH the edge here.
HHH = 1, Cena = 0
John Cena's main problems have been believability, selling and knowing when to switch roles. Cena has all the tools for good promos, but really only puts it all together twice a year. Cena had some of the best promos and interviews during his original heel run, but those days are so long forgotten that it's hard to count them as relevant.
HHH's biggest fault as a promo man are the length of his promos and the fact that his promos usually hurt his opponent's drawing power. HHH's feud with Cena in particular was a good example, as he made a bad situation worse and was one of the biggest instigators in turning the crowd on Cena. Whereas Cena suffers from believability, HHH suffers from being too believable.
Who should I give the edge to here? It's really a tough call. I can believe an HHH promo, but I can't believe a Cena promo. However, I'd rather sit through a Cena promo as it will be shorter than an HHH promo. I have to call it a draw.
HHH = 1, Cena = 0
Cena can usually convince people that he is a good worker due to the crowd being into his matches. Crowd heat can make any match good and WWE has somehow convinced the internet that being booed and turning off fans means you are a good worker. Like I said earlier with Cena, he has all the tools but just can't pull it off. It makes me think that Cena watched alot of attitude era stuff without understanding anything that build up to it. Cena's timing is good but his execution, believability and selling and suspect. Cena's best matches was his MOTY with Umaga and his soon to be MOTY with Brock Lesnar
HHH on the other hand does have alot of the basic things down and HHH has had a fair number of good matches. However, HHH never really shows any versatility or ways in which he can change his role. HHH's best matches include the Benoit/HBK/HHH rematch and his matches with Flair.
I would actually give Cena the edge here. Alot of his stuff is inoffensive and he's been involved in alot of good matches, but he's never going to have the basics down. HHH kind of suffers in this department as his best stuff was not during his reign as #1.
HHH = 1, Cena = 1
Overall buisness and their contributions to the state of wrestling:
For this part, I want to cover HHH first. HHH's reign was before Cena's and therefore, alot of problems that came from HHH's reign continued over to Cena. It should be noted though that when WWE had one of the biggest periods talent wise, HHH was on top and buisness was not doing well. Yes, it was alot of Attitude era let off, but the fact is, HHH wasn't what the people wanted. HHH also killed alot of people including Booker T, Goldberg and RVD.
Cena has basically been the placeholder. He's not the Hogan or Austin that WWE wants. He keep things at a certain level, that is under what they should be doing. He may have also been responsible for driving off alot of fans with his neverending run.
What this comes down to is, who would I rather have? Would I want to have the man who is mostly unbelieveable but a placeholder or someone who slowly failed and hurt alot of careers?
It's hard to say and I'm not sure I would want either one of them. Cena benefits from the fact there is no one else and HHH benefits from not completely killing the buisness. Cena has brought in a different fanbase but has also driven off a nice section of the fanbase.
Overall, I can't give a great answer either way. Neither are great at building buisness but both have their own ways of being bad at it. I'd have to score this one a draw again to finish it off with:
HHH = 1, Cena = 1
I think Cena is probably safer overall but HHH is more appealing to everyone.