John Cena's Hilarious "You Can't See Me" Meme Explained (2024)

Summary

  • The "You Can't See Me" meme originated from John Cena's WWE career.
  • Cena created the gesture while messing around with his brother Sean and testing hip-hop beats for his rap album.
  • The meme has expanded beyond WWE, and Cena's comedic persona has contributed to his successful acting career in Hollywood.

The “You can’t see me” catchphrase evolved into a hilarious John Cena meme joking that the WWE star-turned-actor was invisible. 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 strange “If you smell what The Rock is cooking,” Cena's is one of the most quotable. The taunt – which Cena uses to suggest that his wrestling moves are too fast for his opponents to see coming – has a sweet and funny origin.

Cena wrestled in WWE for several years before he moved to Hollywood. Cena spent most of that time as a face (a good guy in wrestling terminology), although he started as a heel (a villain) — regularly taunting his opponents. Even after turning good, Cena never stopped taunting his opponents, especially saying "You can't see me". The John Cena invisible meme hasn't just stayed in the ring though, and its funniest uses have very little to do with WWE today.

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Where The John Cena "You Can't See Me" Meme Came From

It Started In Cena's WWE Career

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 do this 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 his opponent couldn't see him because he was better than them.

“You Can’t See Me” is interpreted quite literally, with memes suggesting he believes he is invisible.

Little did he know that his taunt would be immortalized in a John Cena invisible meme, and thousands of Twitter visual gags emerged with him as the star. It's fair to say the meme 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 opponents. Although Cena originally intended the phrase to imply that his wrestling prowess couldn’t be matched, in the meme-making community, “You Can’t See Me” is interpreted quite literally, with memes suggesting he believes he is invisible or maybe actually is.

John Cena's "You Can't See Me" Meme Explained

It's One Of The Most Consistently Popular Memes

John Cena's Hilarious "You Can't See Me" Meme Explained (2)

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, however, there are many variations. 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.

His movie career has really helped spread the John Cena invisible meme even further than when he was a wrestler.

This moved on to bigger jokes, such as people adding Cena's name to movie cast lists and then mocking people who say they didn't see him in the movie. His movie career has really helped spread the John Cena invisible meme even further than when he was a wrestler actively doing it on TV on a weekly basis. 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

The Superstar Actually Loves It

John Cena's Hilarious "You Can't See Me" Meme Explained (3)

WWE legend and international superstar John Cena still doubles down when the "You Can't See Me" 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. Since Cena has really started laying into his comedic roles more regularly, with his recent movie Ricky Stanicky a good example, it makes sense that he has no problem laughing at himself.

Peacemaker Proved That John Cena Is Way More Than A Meme

Cena Has Become A Bonafide Hollywood Star

HBO's Peacemaker is led by WWE star John Cena in the titular role and proves he is a lot more than a meme. Some acting skills are required of any WWE wrestler, and most of them are responsible for creating their wrestling characters and catchphrases. However, leading a television series is different. The character of Peacemaker first appeared in Suicide Squad, proving to be a complex enough character that he was given his own spinoff show. It put Cena into the spotlight in a big way while also pushing his acting talents, but he proved to be more than up for the challenge.

Outside of being a phenomenally successful wrestler, John Cena has led one of the best superhero shows in years.

Cena continued to show his comedic skills, working wonderfully with James Gunn's irreverent sense of humor. He also got to show off his dramatic skills as an actor, exploring the conflict of the troubled character and highlighting his tumultuous relationship with his father, White Dragon. Outside of being a phenomenally successful wrestler, Cena has led one of the best superhero shows in years. It seems likely that the upcoming Peacemaker season 2 will continue to show his range as an actor.

Peacemaker season 2 began filming in June 2024.

John Cena Isn't The Only Wrestler With A Famous Meme

The Rock & Randy Orton Have Popular Memes Of Their Own

John Cena's Hilarious "You Can't See Me" Meme Explained (4)

The John Cena meme might be the most used, but it isn't the only popular meme that crossed over from wrestling to the mainstream. One of the funniest came from one of wrestling's most famous crossover stars - Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. This meme is a photo The Rock posted from the 1990s, with a black turtleneck, silver necklace, and a fanny pack. This meme has been used since then to show how uncool even the coolest people can be, and even Kevin Hart mocked the look. Luckily, Johnson even laughs at the photo (via E! News).

"in the world of pro-wrestling in the '90s, everyone had a fanny pack. But the one that stands out, and then makes the headlines looking like an idiot, is right here."

Another popular wrestling meme that exploded everywhere from Twitter to TikTok is Randy Orton's "RKO Outta nowhere" meme (via Washington Post). This meme is based on Orton's finishing move that he pulls off before he pins an opponent. Impressively, he mastered hitting it without warning, even if his opponent was in the middle of their offensive move. This turned into images of a Photoshopped Orton hitting the RKO on just about anyone in entertainment, politics, or other sports to show a person has been owned. Unlike the John Cena meme, this remains a taunt.

The Meme Is In Line With Cena's Comedic Chops

Cena Has Embraced His Comedic Persona

Some of John Cena's Best Comedic Roles:

Movie

Character

Trainwreck (2015)

Steven

Blockers (2018)

Mitchell Mannes

Vacation Friends (2021)

Ron

Peacemaker (2022-)

Christopher Smith / Peacemaker

Barbie (2023)

Kenmaid

Ricky Stanicky (2024)

Rod / Ricky Stanicky

Among the biggest wrestlers-turned-actors, the best have carved out a special place in Hollywood for themselves. Dwayne Johnson has positioned himself as a crowd-pleasing action star. Dave Bautista has worked to become seen as a serious actor. John Cena, though he has shown dramatic talents, has done well to become known as the wrestler-turned-comedic-actor. It is a somewhat unexpected role, as Hollywood (unsurprisingly) tried to make him an action star when he first started in movies. However, the John Cena meme helped pave the way for comedic roles.

The fun of the meme seems to be perfectly suited for the persona Cena wants to put out in the world as the wrestler who doesn't take himself too seriously. This can be seen in most of his acting roles, as Cena has largely gravitated to comedies since becoming a more sought-after actor. Along with Peacemaker's balance of goofy comedy and darker drama, Cena has been hilarious in Trainwreck, Blockers, Vacation Friends, Barbie, and his recent cameo in The Bear.

Outside of movies, Cena continues to embrace his comedic sensibilities, always delivering laughs in interviews and appearances. He got some of the biggest laughs at the most recent ceremony for the Academy Awards where he did a bit pretending that he was nude on stage. There are not too many wrestlers who made careers out of coming off as tough guys who would be willing to put themselves out there in such a silly way, but it is one of the reasons Cena has become so popular with audiences.

John Cena's Hilarious "You Can't See Me" Meme Explained (2024)

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