Bray Wyatt and John Cena took part in what might be the most polarizing WWE match in history with the Firefly Funhouse Match at WrestleMania 36.
For most of its run-time, this wasn’t a wrestling match at all. Instead, this deconstructed the entire career of Cena. By the end, Cena fell and Wyatt did what no other superstar could accomplish before. He destroyed “John Cena, WWE Superstar.” Wyatt didn’t do it in a typical wrestling match. He did it in one of the more nuanced stories in WWE history.
Once upon a time, there was a young superstar in WWE named John Cena. In Ohio Valley Wrestling, he was the Prototype. He was what Vince McMahon has always looked for in a wrestler — a big, muscular, good looking star.
This moment in time is where fans entered the Firefly Funhouse. The man formerly known as Prototype came down to answer Kurt Angle’s open challenge on SmackDown. He even used a tagline McMahon created earlier in the show, saying he had “ruthless aggression.” Cena flailed around Wyatt, unable to land any punches, appearing less than competent in the ring.
That is when the Firefly Funhouse began to travel through the career of Cena, showing he was simply this generation’s version of Hulk Hogan. In the ’80s, Hogan was the predominant superstar, the big, muscular superhero kids loved and who sold enough merchandise and tickets to make WWE a success.
Hogan towered over more talented wrestlers, from Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and Macho Man Randy Savage to Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Bret “The Hitman” Hart. It wasn’t until Hogan left WWE that anyone got a chance to break the mythical glass ceiling.
When Cena showed up, history repeated itself. He was the guy the kids loved, selling more merchandise than anyone in WWE. As a result, even later in his career, he overshadowed younger wrestlers trying to fight their way up. Two names that stand out are Rusev and Wyatt, men who had a ton of momentum that Super Cena destroyed.
There was also a bitter irony in the Firefly Funhouse, and things took a turn to the dark. In the ’80s, Hogan was the biggest babyface on the planet. However, he scolded his best friend Andre the Giant for daring to want a shot at the world championship. Hogan forced friends like “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff to turn heel to get a title shot. He even had a thing for Macho Man’s manager, Elizabeth.
In the 2000s, Cena came out as the Doctor of Thuganomics. He initially rose in popularity by insulting everyone with his R-rated rhymes. Cena did it even when fighting fellow babyfaces like The Rock. When it came to guys like Rusev and Wyatt, he buried them on the microphone before ever fighting them in the ring. Wyatt pointed out the truth — Cena wasn’t a superhero. He was a bully.
Wyatt didn’t just show Cena he was a bully who overshadowed more deserving, more talented wrestlers because of how he looked. He played it out for the entire world to see.
The end of the Firefly Funhouse Match took Cena’s own words and twisted them against him. Heading into the match, Cena said it would mark the end of the “most over-hyped and over-privileged star in WWE history.” Fans assumed Cena meant Wyatt, but it turned out the quote referenced Cena himself.
The match ended with Cena’s words repeated as The Fiend pinned him with the Mandible Claw.
This match followed Cena’s career from the start to the end. When Wyatt finally exposed the real Cena to the world, it ended with one real truth revealed. Cena was the villain all along, the wolf in sheep’s clothing, and Wyatt, the Eater of Worlds, was telling the truth the entire time, trying to save the world.
Wyatt asked Cena to let him in. By the end of the Firefly Funhouse Match, Cena accepted the challenge, and what he found likely horrified him. After that, The Fiend killed “John Cena, WWE Superstar.” The underdog finally overcame the playground bully. Then Cena was gone. There is no telling if he will ever make it out of the Firefly Funhouse, but if he does, he will never be the same.
And once again, Bray Wyatt has the whole world in his hands.
The Firefly Funhouse Match at WrestleMania 36 was more than just a match as it possibly ended the career of John Cena, WWE Superstar.