Review: Saturday Night Live – John Cena & Maren Morris

Written by Mark Henely and Melissa Jouben

Host: John Cena

Mark: For those of you who don’t know me, I have been a massive wrestling fan for the past 14 years. In fact, I started watch wrestling one week after John Cena debuted against Kurt Angle on Smackdown all the way back in 2002. I’ve, essentially, never known a wrestling world that didn’t include John Cena. And while I haven’t been always been a fan (male wrestling fans in my demographic have a love/hate relationship with John Cena that usually swings over to hate more often than not), I have basically seen his entire career. Conservatively, I’ve probably taken in over 300 hours of John Cena between his wrestling promos, half hour main event matches, and his movies (I was one of the few people who saw 12 Rounds in theaters).

What I’m saying is, there has never been a host that I have been more pumped up to write about.

John did a great job! I think might surprise some who don’t have respect for what wrestlers do and what wrestling is, but John was prepared. I mean, he’s been doing live for 14 years and when he isn’t wrestling a match, he is delivering monologues and acting out scenes based off of scripts he receives on the day of his performance. I was impressed immediately because his first joke in his monologue didn’t really land and he handled it perfectly. He leaned into it. He looked at the crowd and got a laugh off of the fact that they didn’t get the joke. That’s a savvy move from a performer and something you would typically only get from an experienced comedian.

Melissa: Just a few weeks ago I was talking to someone about how weird it was that John Cena has never hosted SNL, and despite the WWE being more popular than ever, The Rock is still the only wrestler to ever host. I’m so glad I didn’t have to wait very long after that conversation to see this happen because is really was a travesty. Cena’s early WWE career was pretty much him being the comic relief in opposition to Stephanie McMahon’s role as General Manager, and I remember being pretty on board with him back then so I can’t see why he wouldn’t shine here. He was also good in Trainwreck.

I had high hopes for him, and I’m excited to say that he didn’t disappoint me. He did everything asked of him with a boundless enthusiasm and a lot of commitment. One thing I have to point out is that in my review of the Margot Robbie episode, I complained that the sketches focused too heavily on her being a pretty blonde woman. This episode does a very similar thing where almost every sketch mentions or features John Cena’s beefy appearance or a stereotype that big beefs like him are also kind of dumb. I’m sorry to say that I’m ok with that this time around and I think the way they played it was much funnier and allowed for way more interesting sketches.

Photo Credit: Will Heath/NBC

Highlight of the Night: The Monologue

Melissa: I liked his monologue the best! And not because the rest of the night didn’t carry the momentum that the monologue did, because that’s not true. I’m actually going to be hard pressed to pick a least favorite sketch in a minute because I enjoyed the whole episode.

What I liked so much about the monologue was that it was the only part of the episode that honed in on professional wrestling, and I was really excited to see them make wrestling jokes. I’ve got a real soft spot for made up pro wrestlers in comedy (shout out to Late Night with Seth Meyers’ Stink Mouth Pigman) and so I was utterly delighted to see what they came up with. Bobby Moynihan’s “The Waddler” was great, as was his heavily Rowdy Roddy Piper-inspired look. The small stage they set up for his entrance was a great touch, too. Not to mention, Keenan creeping in to break a chair over Cena’s back and then shouting “I am a delicate flower!” and fleeing when confronted was probably the single funniest moment all episode. I almost wish that it had gone on longer, because I was very amused and ready to get invested in some real WWE level theatrics.

Mark: The basic format of the monologue was that John Cena was there to sing a song, but he kept getting interrupted by cast members trying to fight him just like on Monday Night Raw when wrestling come out to interrupt each other all the time. I think it was a fun use of the format, but I want to go on record and say that I think Cena could have delivered on a straight monologue. That is an incredibly difficult thing for a performer to do who does not have a background in stand up comedy, but I think he could do it. Although,I don’t actually know what that would look like. Would he do a tight five on the life of being a professional wrestler or would e do five minutes on the news? It probably wouldn’t actually be the better choice, but I almost want to see him do it to prove he can.

If you are looking for a sketch of the night, check out “Dating Game.” On that sketch, Cecily Strong plays a woman on a dating show who ends up falling in love with the host (played by John Cena) rather than the guys she is there to meet. It’s a fun sketch with a simple game that gets very silly very quickly.

Photo Credit: Will Heath/NBC)

Low Point of the Night – Where’d Your Money Go

Melissa: This wasn’t even that bad. The reason I’m saying it’s the worst of the night is because it comes in around midway through the episode, being the second game show sketch of the night, and it doesn’t really offer anything good in the way of utilizing that game show format to the fullest. The game show, “Where’d Your Money Go” is a game where the contestants, all famous athletes who are very rich and VERY fiscally irresponsible, are asked questions about imagined scenarios in which they have the opportunity to be smart or stupid with their money and they all overwhelmingly support making the dumb decision.

The focus of the sketch is barely on the game show and more on the impressions, which are definitely the most worthwhile part. Bobby Moynihan’s Jon Daly is great with his little one-liner at the end of the sketch, and it took me a second to recognize Alex Moffat as Connor McGregor. I’ve grown to like Moffat a lot this season, but this sketch finally justified (and least for me) why he’s been getting so much screen time in his freshman year on the show.

Mark: Yeah, I thought this sketch was a little boring. I’m super into sports, so some of it was lost on me. I did like Alex Moffat’s Connor McGregor though. It’s a good impression and I hope it comes back.

Photo Credit: Will Heath/NBC

Musical Guest: Maren Morris

Mark: There is something undeniably compelling about the song Maren Morris’ “My Church.” I had only heard it once before her performance on Saturday night, but I instantly recognized it as soon as Morris started playing it. I’m not a country fan, but there are some monster hooks in this song. At first, I hated it because I thought it was incredibly corny. It sounded a song about how fun it is to go to Church (which I don’t agree with), but it’s actually about the comfort she feels when she listens to music on the radio. Which, I can’t disagree with. It is definitely fun to listen to music while you drive.

I mean, I don’t listen to music while I drive. I’m a grumpy man who works in an office and listens to podcasts while he drives. But, there was a time, when I wore a younger man’s clothes, where I listened to music (mostly Slipknot) and had a nice time. I guess you could say that, at 19, driving around (listening to Slipknot) was my church as well.

Melissa: I’m just not into it. I think she’s got a great voice and I think her music is good but I’m just not all the way there with it. I like that she was the musical guest because it’s always great to hear different genres being explored on that stage, and country music always sounds great when played up there. But I can’t say I was excited to watch the musical guest perform. I can say I asked Mark to fast forward her second performance because I wanted more John Cena.

Photo Credit: Will Heath/NBC

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.