The “You can’t see me” catchphrase evolved into a hilarious John Cena meme for the WWE star-turned-actor. Though mostly known as the John Cena meme, Cena’s provocative taunt to his opponents fits into the great pantheon of wrestling catchphrases that has long been part of each fighter’s armory. Alongside The Undertaker’s chilling “Rest in peace” and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s somewhat stranger “If you smell what The Rock is cooking,” Cena’s is one of the most quotable. The taunt – which John Cena uses to suggest that his wrestling moves are too fast for his opponents to see coming – has a rather sweet and funny origin.
Cena wrestled in WWE for several years before he made his move to Hollywood. From his debut in 2002, until he became a part-time star in 2019, Cena won 13 world championships, the second most in WWE history. Cena spent most of that time as a face (a good guy in wrestling terminology), although he started out as a heel — taunting his opponents while playing the “bad guy” in WWE arcs. Even after his face-turn he still taunted his opponents, however, especially by telling them they couldn’t see him, something Dwayne Johnson found out when The Rock returned and Cena often poked fun at him. John Cena meme hasn’t just stayed in the ring though, and the funniest uses of John Cena’s “You can’t see me” have very little to do with WWE in 2023.
Where The John Cena “You Can’t See Me” Meme Came From
According to WWE, Cena was messing around with his younger brother Sean testing out hip-hop beats for his then-upcoming rap album (titled You Can’t See Me) when the younger Cena sibling started dancing around waving his hand in front of his face. Sean dared his brother to perform the dance during a wrestling match, and John obliged before adding the catchphrase. Thus, one of the most iconic gestures in wrestling was born. Cena would hold his hand in front of his face and wave it back and forth, indicating that his opponent couldn’t see him because he is better than they are.
Little did he know that his words and hand gesture would soon be immortalized in a John Cena meme, and thousands of Twitter visual gags emerged with him as the star. It’s fair to say that the meme has exploded far beyond the ring, and many who enjoy it have little-to-no interest in WWE beyond John Cena’s tongue-in-cheek digs at his opponent’s inability to see him. Although Cena originally intended the phrase to imply that his wrestling prowess couldn’t be matched by his opponents, in the meme-making community, “You Can’t See Me” is interpreted quite literally, with memes suggesting that he either believes he is invisible or (most hilariously) actually is.
John Cena’s “You Can’t See Me” Meme Explained
The standard structure for the John Cena meme features an image of the man accompanied by some text that suggests Cena is not actually in the image. Even John Cena himself is in on the joke. Back in 2017, when Apple launched the iPhone X with its new Face ID feature, Cena took to Twitter to voice his concerns over whether the facial recognition technology would even work for him. Another example is this viral video tweet from Deadspin in which Fox Sports reporter Jamie Little seems utterly oblivious to John Cena’s presence at a NASCAR event. Indeed, Cena’s not just famous but also has an iconic, unchanging look and a large frame, which only makes instances of the “You Can’t See Me” meme more hilarious.
What John Cena Thinks Of The You Can’t See Me Meme
WWE legend and international superstar John Cena — whose estimated net worth is upwards of $60 million — still doubles down when the “You Can’t See Me” John Cena meme is brought up. In a 2021 interview for F9 (via YouTube), when Cena was asked whether the joke ever gets old, Cena said, “No, not at all. I, somehow, through almost two decades of involvement with the WWE, have genuinely developed a superpower – I’m invisible bro.” It’s a funny response — but there’s more truth to Cena’s reply than meets the eye. Whether consciously or not, Cena has used this infinitely remixable meme to sharpen his own improv skills and comedic timing for years, which are what make his onscreen presence truly distinct.
Peacemaker Proved That John Cena Is Way More Than A Meme
HBO’s Peacemaker was led by WWE star John Cena in the titular role — and it proved he was a lot more than just a meme. Some acting skills are required of any WWE wrestler, and most of them are responsible for creating their own wrestling characters and catchphrases (hence the John Cena meme). But leading a television series is different. The character of Peacemaker first appeared in Suicide Squad, and people initially disliked the antihero. However, in HBO’s Peacemaker, any doubts disappeared. While the John Cena meme definitely made Cena more recognizable, Peacemaker proved that he is more than just a meme.
Much of Cena’s hilarious dialogue in Peacemaker was improvised, showing he has serious comedic chops. He also got to show off his dramatic skills as an actor, in the form of embellishing his backstory and highlighting his tumultuous relationship with his father, White Dragon. Outside of being a phenomenally successful wrestler, John Cena has led one of the best superhero shows in years. He brings a lot of laughs to the screen and excelled in his role. While the John Cena meme has grown into its own phenomenon, the same can be said for the man himself.