I’ve tried to defend John Cena through his many criticisms and antagonists. I’ve tried almost as hard as I’ve tried to believe in God. And as with my attempts to believe in God, my attempts to defend John Cena have officially failed.
If you take a look back on my writer page here at NewsBlaze, you’ll find a lengthy article containing reasons why much of the criticism John Cena has received over the past five years is unwarranted and illogical. One piece of criticism – one of the main ones – is that he appeals to children. I stated that since the entire WWE is now rated PG, pretty much all the wrestlers need to appeal to children, sadly.
Then, I found out that he is going to play a role in the new “Fred” movie on Nickelodeon. Fred, of course, the insufferable 17 year old playing the role of a six year old in a series of idiotic situations. Yes – that kid is getting his own movie on television.
Not only have I lost all hope for YouTube, society and our youth, I’ve lost all hope for John Cena.
Now that John Cena has reached the pinnacle of pandering to children and has been WWE’s top diaper changer for the past few years – what do you do with him? If you pay attention to an episode of Monday Night Raw even badly, you notice when he makes his entrance there are many audible jeers and some visible signs of bitter distaste. Of course, WWE confiscates all the clever signs such as “Cena Nuff” and “Cuck Fena”. I got my first live taste of WWE five years ago at Survivor Series in 2005 – even then, support for this supposed hero was divided. Almost as if in song, when one side would chant “LET’S GO CENA!” seemingly more would riposte “LET’S GO ANGLE!” At that time, I was a big Cena fan. Bear in mind – it was my 15th birthday.
What can you do with this seemingly indestructible, Hulk Hogan-esque babyface hero? Do you let the fans become even more divisive and heated and risk the possibility of them becoming fed up with traipsing through another one of his programs? Or – do you do something drastic?
My idea is one many in the internet wrestling community share and isn’t some labyrinthine pile of convoluted crap akin to what WWE Creative is used to producing lately – turn John Cena heel. Make him a bad guy.
Many wrestlers go through fluctuations in their roles as it pertains to fan reaction over time. They’ll be a face for a few years, then, to change things up, they do something the fans absolutely hate and become heels. This works in reverse as well. However, for the better part of the last seven years, Cena has been purely face. Over the course of this period, he’s won nine major titles – some of which he held for close to a year. He has also lined owner Vince McMahon’s pockets nicely with millions in merchandise sold, mainly to the millions of children that see him as their hero… Which is one major reason against turning him heel.
It’s axiomatic that as a crowd pleaser, you’ll sell a lot of merchandise such as shirts, hats, wristbands, etc. This is a main reason I think John Cena has maintained his face status for so long – he sells a lot of stuff. He’s highly marketable. You see him in commercials, at sporting events, on game shows, in movies… he’s almost ubiquitous. While he’s putting himself out there, he’s spreading the word of WWE and advancing the company further into the media spotlight. If you make this guy evil on television, how will showing up at a movie premiere smiling and being personable translate back to the kayfabe world of professional wrestling? Is WWE ready to feel a slight dent in their bottom line with a loss of Cena merch revenue? That’s one thing to consider.
Another thing to consider is the possibility of a reverse Stone Cold Steve Austin effect. Austin was supposed to be a heel in the Attitude era – he had the mannerisms and makings of a heel, but the more he tried, the more the fans cheered for him. So, if Cena were to turn heel, would all of the fans who have grown tired of his stale persona suddenly cheer him? I think they would as a middle finger to the creative team for taking so long, and because finally, FINALLY, a deviation in his character will have been implemented. Where does that leave the ones – usually kids – who cheer for him? Most likely booing him, but at this point I couldn’t care less.
For some of you casual fans, you may not know what I mean by his “stale character”. Allow me to educate you as to what a typical Monday Night Raw with Cena consists of: He cuts a promo with the same worn out platitudes about respect and never backing down, then vows to defeat his opponent. If Cena has the title, add a few “THE CHAMP IS HERE!”‘s in there. If not, he’ll probably be the number one contender for it or at least in the match to decide who it will be. Elements of any of the situations will be in his promo. He leaves, then has his match in the usual main event spot, beats some kind of impossible odds and wins.
If you pay attention to the crowd reactions on Monday Night Raw, you find that some stars that are considered heels get a considerable amount of cheers. A few examples I’ve heard are Chris Jericho, Edge, and when he was a heel – Randy Orton. Usually the same people that boo Cena are the ones who cheer Jericho and Edge. Hell, I’ve even heard Sheamus getting a few cheers lately. Jericho and Edge work great as heels and probably should always remain that way. Their personas haven’t gotten stale, they work on the edge of what the PG rating allows and they’re interesting. My point? The heel-face mechanism will never be perfect. You’ll always have people cheering for heels and booing faces. That doesn’t mean they should ALL be changed according to reactions – Cena has just gotten incredibly stale.
Lately, in my opinion, WWE storylines have been very insipid and dull. Predictability and lack of originality have plagued the writing staff it seems. One of the most egregious indications of this is the Undertaker, far and away the company’s top guy and best star for the past 20 years, has been locked in a storyline in which he was in a vegetative state for three months. They made it painfully obvious that Kane was the one who put him away and now the program has no flair or interest. I’m sure you could think of a better example, but my point is simple: Turning Cena heel would shake up Monday Night Raw dramatically. He would instantly go from being the top face to the top heel. It’s the perfect way to change things up in a company that hasn’t been producing many entertaining storylines lately. It would be a shockwave that hasn’t been felt in WWE since they adopted their PG rating.
Which leads me to my final point – Cena will never be heel as long as WWE is PG and as long as Linda McMahon wants to make the fans suffer for her own Congressional agenda. Why? Once again, simple: He keeps the kids entertained. If you were to ask a group of 100 children ages 5-10 who their favorite wrestler is currently, 90 of them would say John Cena. It’s just the way it is. His “Never back down” rhetoric is akin to Hulk Hogan’s “say your prayers, eat your vitamins” from the generation before. He’s a role model, and in a company that is known for their vulgar, bloody past, that’s saying a ton.
Make no mistake, I think Cena is a very capable wrestler and a great person. WWE Creative are the ones who need a kick in the ass. They pretty much control what your character does and says, and for seven years, they’ve advocated for his crowd pleasing, toddler entertaining character.
I will say this – last night’s edition of Raw impressed the hell out of me. With the exception of boring, threadbare, arrogant guest host Chad Johnson (I refuse to call him Ochocinco) the show was great. I haven’t been able to say that about Raw in a long time. With November right around the corner and a hopeful Linda McMahon loss in the elections, a good thing to consider is the possibility of WWE returning to TV-14 and livening things up again. That’s something I covered in a previous article; consider the possibility.
In conclusion, if you were to take this monumental superstar that kids love and idolize and make him your top heel, that could be the catalyst for better things on Monday Night Raw. The guest hosts are lame, this mystery GM is annoying, and the Nexus interrupting every match has run its course. Time to explore other options and do what fans have been waiting to see for quite some time.
However in reality, Vince McMahon is an avaricious imp – and someone needs to keep the children entertained. Cena is their go-to guy for media outside of WWE, he loves the spotlight, and that will never change. For every one fan that drops WWE because of Cena and the overall arid, mundane climate of their product, three more kids will take a liking to Cena and tune in.
You’re cool and all Cena – but I’ve Cena Nuff.