Love your work blah-blah-blah. Anyway…
My wife is a huge John Cena fan. I fall under the spell of Punk, Bryan and Beth Phoenix of the world. When Cena comes on these days I wince. As a result my wife asked how I would make Cena interesting again without changing the core character.
John Cena is not going to turn heel. No matter who much the IWC, perhaps Cena himself, and the fans who boo him each and every week would like it – he is the cash cow that keeps giving.
The question is how can the WWE get it so he is, I daresay, more tolerable to anyone over the age of 13. Well, here are a few ideas.
1. Be vulnerable. Stop burying people – ADR, Big Show and Miz all were victims of Cena not letting them be a legitimate threat. He couldn’t even sell ADR as being rich, never mind a worthy opponent. If Cena is going to be hero then the hero must seem threatened – not overcome numerical odds but actually be threatened. The only people who have threatened Cena are Brock and CM Punk. Even The Rock wasn’t that big a threat since it was known Duane was going back to Hollywood. Speaking of Duane.
The vulnerability is HUGE. One of the reasons that Rock got over so big as a babyface back in 99 and 2000 is that the odds were stacked against him and he occasionally got the s--- kicked out of him and lost. Yeah, he won the Rumble in 2000, but it was taken away from him and then he got screwed over against Big Show and then at Wrestlemania, before finally having his big triumph against HHH at Backlash. For a while, you were actually left wondering if they were ever going to give him the big win. Not with Cena.
2. Emotional investment. Let it get personal. What was interesting with The Rock was everything did get personal. We knew Cena was staying, that the legacy mattered, and low-and-behold interesting confrontations abound. Kane was the opposite. Kane tried to get Cena to embrace the hate or admit getting booed bothered him. Cena didn’t react. Ever. If Cena doesn’t get emotionally attached then why should I?
The emotional detachment is fine, but then they need to stop booking him in storylines where he has to show emotion. World title feuds are fine, because it’s all business and all about the money, but ironic detached Cena cracking jokes is surefire death for any other type of feud.
3. Be the better man. Lose. Be wrong. Admit you messed up. Big Show made a great point about Cena just laughing it up when Big Show got fired. Cena replies that Big Show would have been hired back and somehow is segues into Big Show being a sell out Um, what? If Cena admits he was wrong then he comes off as a better role model and is a lot more sympathetic when the Big Show decks him anyway, well at least it is interesting. See: Ryder, Zach for additional examples.
See, the Ryder thing had such potential to freshen up Cena by letting him do tag matches with Zach on top and give him the rub, then he could be UPSET that someone was going after his partner, then his partner could turn on him or a million different things, and they just dropped them all. And the better man thing is something that bugs me about Sheamus, too. Like when he bumped into Big Johnny and had to be forced into a fake apology on Smackdown — just APOLOGIZE. You’re the f------ GOOD GUY. Just say “Sorry, didn’t mean to bump into you” and then if Ace escalates from there, HE’S the one who looks like a jackass, not Sheamus.
4. Raise the stakes. Go after the belt. There is a weird belief that titles are meaningless. Cena’s most brilliant feud was with Punk over the WWE belt yet he hasn’t challenged since. Even The Rock mentioned challenging for the belt at Wrestlemania. Do others need the belt more? No. A title holding John Cena could elevate more people if the challenges are done in such a manner where Cena cares and there is the possibility that losing has consequences. It has built in drama since there is a prize at stake.
Let us not say this is all John Cena. There are writers and Vince McMahon, yet Cena is so close to sometimes being a character people could love instead of being someone where I wince when I hear his music play.
Indeed. But then I feel the same way about Kane.