Those three phrases exemplify what players will be tasked to do in WWE 2K23’s Showcase, the interactive sports documentary that covers pivotal moments in John Cena’s 20-year WWE career.
In a franchise first, fans will get to step into the shoes of some of his key rivals in an attempt to take down Mr. HUSTLE, LOYALTY, and RESPECT.
Players had a brief taste of what is to be expected with our Even Stronger announce trailer and now we’re ready to dive in a bit more with some new, key details.
BUILDING THE SHOWCASE
Once it was decided that we’d be doing a second John Cena Showcase, the first thing we started thinking about was how to differentiate it from past Showcases, like our 2K15 Showcase that also focused on John Cena.
One thing that fans have mentioned over the years in regards to the mode is that playing as the same person for 12, 15, 20 matches can start to feel a little repetitive. So we started playing with the idea that instead of playing as John Cena, you’d play as his opponents. This way, each match would feel fresh, with new movesets and new strategies.
The tricky part was deciding how we’d make this work. Are these still going to be matches where John Cena is victorious? Will there be a mix of wins and losses, and we just go for the more standard “great match” presentation of Showcase? Obviously it’s more fun to win matches than it is to lose, so we started thinking about “What if we pick matches where Cena lost?” while keeping in mind how this would look for our players.
As long-time John Cena fans, we thought of all the things he’s known for. And while “YOU CAN’T SEE ME” and “HUSTLE. LOYALTY. RESPECT” are certainly two of his better-known phrases, so too is “NEVER GIVE UP.” So we started thinking about what that means - both generally, and to John Cena himself. And we thought that it would be a really cool story to tell, of John Cena’s struggles and failures, of his lowest moments, and how important falling short in those instances was to his greater career.
We felt like it would be a great way to show the full story of John Cena’s journey, as many fans tend to think of him as someone who maybe didn’t have it as difficult as others; that he didn’t have to fight for what he wanted, didn’t have to learn difficult lessons. And we knew that this wasn’t the case.
We were really excited that John himself loved the idea. He was excited to bring “NEVER GIVE UP!” to life, and knew that, no matter how you feel about Cena as a fan, you’d enjoy this Showcase either way.
We also loved the idea of turning “YOU CAN’T SEE ME” into “YOU CAN’T BEAT ME,” which frames John Cena as the big boss of the mode, and acts as a perfect subtitle to the Showcase itself. It’s direct, and works as a wonderful challenge to players. Any WWE fan knows that a win over John Cena is an important moment - now we’re providing that thrill directly to players!
Once we had decided on the direction of Showcase being one where you’d play as the opponents of John Cena, then we had to choose the way we wanted to frame it. We see this year's Showcase as an unofficial “countdown.” This isn’t simply “People who beat John Cena,” though.
We wanted to skew this as the “greatest” or the “toughest” opponents that Cena had to deal with in his career. So, for someone like Rob Van Dam who really only has the one high-profile victory over Cena, he makes the list because of the circumstances surrounding the match, the absolute frenzied state of the crowd, and what an important win it was for both RVD and ECW as a whole. RVD set the perfect trap for Cena at ECW One Night Stand 2006 and he earned a spot on this list.
Then you have guys like Randy Orton and AJ Styles, who have earned numerous victories over Cena, and that’s when it gets a little more difficult to decide. We liked the Hell in a Cell 2009 match for Orton because it’s the purest presentation of who “The Viper” really was. Cold, calculating, taking pleasure in the pain he dishes out to Cena. It’s also a match that slips under the radar when thinking of the epic rivalry between Cena and Orton, so we were happy to spotlight it in the Showcase.
While we want to get those big matches against the big opponents in there, we also wanted to try and capture each portion of Cena’s career in this Showcase, too. To show that “NEVER GIVE UP” has truly been a way of life for him, long before he was using it in his raps. Doing so allows us to emphasize the importance of early-career moments, as well, long before championships were in the picture.
That means getting a version of Cena where he’s brand new to WWE. And a Doctor of Thugonomics who is trying to find the right prescription to becoming a giant star. And, of course, the leader of the Cenation who has faced some of the baddest people to ever set foot in a WWE ring. Encompassing a career without being able to show every single beat is one of Showcase’s biggest challenges, and each year we do our best to rise to meet it.
THE MATCH LIST
John Cena vs. Kurt Angle
Angle gloats about beating everybody, issues an open challenge
A young unknown named John Cena answers the challenge, looking to make a great first impression with the WWE Universe
John Cena vs. Batista
- It’s a modern version of Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior as two of WWE’s most powerful forces collide at SummerSlam!
- The two drew parallels constantly, with both winning their first World Championships at WrestleMania 21. Three years later, they look to find out who the better man truly is.
John Cena vs. Edge
- Edge has done everything he can to hold onto the title in nefarious ways. At SummerSlam, if he’s disqualified, he loses the WWE Championship!
- A rivalry that has raged for seven months continues as Edge looks to prove he’s got the inside track to defeating Cena
New Year’s Revolution (2006)
John Cena vs. Edge
- The historic first-ever cash-in of the Money in the Bank briefcase
- An exhausted John Cena is forced into defending his WWE Championship immediately after surviving the Elimination Chamber
Night of Champions (2008)
John Cena vs. Triple H
- Cena made Triple H tap out at WrestleMania 22 to show he was on the level of The Game
- At Night of Champions, Triple H looks to prove he can correct the mistakes he made and get his victory back over Cena, while defending his WWE Championship at the same time
John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar
- Having conquered The Undertaker’s Streak at WrestleMania XXX, Brock Lesnar feels absolutely unbeatable
- As WWE World Heavyweight Champion, John Cena knows that he’s the only one left to keep Lesnar from completely dominating WWE
John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar
- John Cena gets his opportunity at the WWE Championship!
- Brock looks to turn back the challenge of a brash opponent who feels he deserves the opportunities that, so far, have seemingly only gone to “The Next Big Thing!”
John Cena vs. Undertaker
- Cena has angered “The Big Dog” in an attempt to move up the ladder as quickly as possible
- The Undertaker, after having given Cena respect in the past, looks to show his kindness wasn’t weakness, and that Cena’s made a huge mistake in calling him out
Hell in a Cell (2009)
John Cena vs. Randy Orton
- A years-long rivalry shows no signs of burning out any time soon as Randy Orton and John Cena are locked inside the Cell!
- Orton is a crazed and ferocious competitor as he looks to reclaim the WWE Championship from the man who took it away from him in the first place!
John Cena vs. Roman Reigns
- The Tribal Chief has dominated WWE for nearly a solid year, eliminating all challengers
- John Cena returns at Money in the Bank, letting Roman know that he wants another crack at The Head of the Table.
John Cena vs. The Rock
- Attitude meets Aggression when two eras collide!
- The Rock returns to WrestleMania competition after eight years. Does he still have the electricity needed to shock Cena?
John Cena vs. AJ Styles
- A huge rematch after their first meeting ends under questionable circumstances
- 15 years of bitterness boils to the top as AJ Styles looks to prove he’s every bit the generational talent that John Cena is known to be
John Cena vs Undertaker
- Without a match for WrestleMania 34, Cena calls out The Undertaker
- Undertaker goes weeks without answering, leading many to wonder if he’ll even show up for WrestleMania!
ECW One Night Stand (2006)
John Cena vs. Rob Van Dam
- RVD looks to Cash In the Money in the Bank briefcase with an incredible home-ring advantage
- RVD promised to rename the WWE Title into the ECW Title if he was victorious, could Cena protect WWE from the extreme circumstances?
While the matches are locked to keep the “countdown” aspect a surprise as you play, the Showcase itself does not take place chronologically.
Players can still earn rewards for simply winning the match (unlocking the next match, as well as Arenas or Championships), but completing Objectives will yield more Rewards.
CAN YOU SEE HIM?
We on Team 2K Showcase are truly excited for everyone to play the Showcase mode in their attempt to BEAT JOHN CENA!
One of WWE’s most important Superstars of the new millennium, John Cena represents a standard of excellence that is not easily matched. We took on the responsibility of proclaiming the obvious: John Cena is an all-time great, and he did the work to earn that position.
Playing as the opponents that were able to conquer John Cena on very special nights, players will get to walk in the footsteps of the very best competitors in WWE, from the Ruthless Aggression era until today!
Historical arenas, attires, and incredible cutscenes will put players right in the middle of the action as they avoid STFs, Five Knuckle Shuffles, and Attitude Adjustments. If players can HUSTLE their way through each match, and stay LOYAL to completing the in-game objectives, then they will truly earn RESPECT - not only from us but from John Cena himself!