Saturday, December 3, 2011

How Close Is A John Cena Heel Turn?

So if you're like me, you have to be wondering: What has the WWE been doing with John Cena these last couple weeks? Two weeks ago, he appeared after Survivor Series just to talk about the crowd's reaction to him in MSG and to break-up Miz & R-Truth. Last week? He appeared on the opening segment of RAW with Roddy Piper. Piper basically called out Cena for not caring about some fan's negative responses to him. Piper slapped Cena and basically challenged him to stand up for himself. Instead? Cena "rose above hate" and walked away. The interesting thing is that after all of this, Cena did not appear on the rest of the show.

There have been a lot of people clamoring for a John Cena heel turn for a while now. Cena is arguably the most interesting character in WWE history when it comes to fan reactions. Ever since John Cena won the WWE Title at Wrestlemania 21, fans kept losing more and more interest in him. Cena's first reign lasted over a year, and by the end of it, fans were sick of seeing him come out on top every night. Not only that, but the WWE began to water down his hip hop character. They made him more of a kid friendly character. The WWE saw Cena as their future corner stone of the company, so they had to make his character suitable for that. It's a different era compared to when The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin were on top. The WWE feels their target audience is the youth demographic, but that's something that can be argued every day. The 17 and under crowd isn't buying your PPVs.

Many factors have stopped a potential John Cena turn in the past. One of those is the fact that no one in the WWE can match John Cena's merchandise sales. But that isn't the case anymore. According to various reports, C.M. Punk's merchandise sales are matching Cena's. If you want to push a top guy to replace Cena, Punk could take his place. The WWE feared also that no one could replace John Cena in terms of popularity. Well, not only could C.M. Punk do that, but I think there are a couple other guys on the roster capable of being top faces as well. Randy Orton has been there before and can handle himself on top. I also think the continued face push of Sheamus has potential. The WWE seems keen on protecting Sheamus and he looks to be in line for a top match-up come Wrestlemania time. A top face combination of C.M. Punk, Sheamus, and Randy Orton looks promising. Not only that, but with Wrestlemania season coming along, expect The Undertaker back soon. And Rey Mysterio should return from injury soon. Triple H is always around as well. So to say there isn't a line of faces ready to step up to take Cena's place would be wrong.

The WWE also considered John Cena their top draw and money maker when it came to PPV buys and TV ratings. Well, those days are long gone. WWE PPV buys are at an all-time low. Now that isn't all John Cena's fault, but people are getting sick of seeing him at the top. John Cena was in every WWE Title match between Wrestlemania and Vengeance. Cena has been shoved down our throats for the last 6 years. The problem is that Cena has never looked vulnerable for an extended period of time. Fans like to get behind the UNDERDOG babyface. That's why guys like Shawn Michaels, Eddie Guerrero, C.M. Punk, and (gulp) Chris Benoit got over like they did. Cena is never an underdog in the eyes of fans. That hurts a babyface. It's why people hate the New York Yankees, New England Patriots, and Miami Heat. Plus, in wrestling, a face chasing the World Title is a much more interesting story than dominating and being on top.

So what makes a John Cena turn seem more realistic this time? Well, for starters, the WWE is actually having the boos John Cena receives addressed on TV. The announcers make comments about it, but the reactions have never been brought up to Cena's face like Roddy Piper did on RAW. And frankly, I'm surprised Cena reacted the way he did. The whole "Rise Above Hate" thing is just ridiculous. If anything, Cena acted like a coward after being slapped by Piper. He wasn't the bigger man who walked away, he was the man who walked away and left doubt about his manhood. Cena says there are fans that care about him and stand behind him, and they are the only ones he cares about. Well, Cena needs to address those fans that aren't behind him sooner rather than later.

Also, don't you think it is kind of weird that Cena doesn't have another program or feud lined up right now? This is especially weird considering that there is a PPV in two weeks. After Wrestlemania and his RAW showdown with The Rock, Cena went right back to feuding with The Miz. Cena has nothing right now. He's just kind of there right now. He hasn't been on TV for more than one segment in the last two weeks. In a way, you almost think the WWE is trying to expose more of their young talent in an attempt to get them over in case they do turn Cena heel.

Then of course there is Wrestlemania 28: John Cena vs The Rock. No matter how much the WWE tries, John Cena is going to get booed out of the building in Miami. The young John Cena fans won't be able to drown out the boos he will receive in Miami. It is the perfect time for the WWE to take the risk of turning Cena heel. But the problem is, how would they do it? The Rock won't be around again until March or so. That would be too late to turn Cena. What would you do? Have him beat up Zack Ryder or Evan Bourne? If Cena does turn, it has to be something monumental. It has to be a big moment. I don't know how the WWE can pull off something like this in the next few months.

But there's one argument that I heard this week that makes a lot of sense: Isn't John Cena already playing the heel? Think about it, he doesn't care what the fans think about him. He gets booed and he shrugs it off. He backs up his talk with his actions in the ring. He flaunts his victories in front of his detractors. So while some people would love a full on John Cena heel turn, in many ways he is perfectly fine the way he is right now. Just let him keep being a cocky, arrogant face who doesn't care what his detractors think of him. I think if it is me, that's what I would keep doing. And I think the WWE will do that too. While the risk could pay off huge, it could also backfire in their face. The WWE doesn't have the best track record in pulling off big angles in the last few years. It is probably the smartest, safest, and best route the WWE can go right now.

So while we all dream of a day where John Cena goes full on heel, it is sadly still a long ways away in my opinion. I personally think it would be a huge money maker and TV ratings draw, but you just can't trust the WWE booking team with such a huge task right now. I think Cena continues to get booed, and booed badly once Wrestlemania time comes along. After Wrestlemania 28? We go back to the same old Cena, back at the top of the WWE Title picture for the foreseeable future.

Until Next Time,
Justin C
Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka

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