I admit it. I used to be a John Cena fan.
I was all about that “Word Life” and “Hustle, Loyalty, Respect” back when Cena was the self-proclaimed Doctor of Thugonomics. I knew the words to “Basic Thugonomics”:
Whether fightin’ or spittin’, my discipline is ‘Unforgiven’ //
Got you backin’ up in a defensive position //
An ass-kickin’ anthem, heavyweight or bantam //
Holding camps for ransom, the microphone phantom //
Teams hit the floor, this the new fight joint //
Like a broken needle, kid, you’re missin’ the point //
We dominate your conference with offense that’s no-nonsense //
My theme song hits? Get your reinforcements!
I ate that garbage up like a 5-year-old kid eats Fruity Pebbles (no Cena pun intended). I even bought his “You Can’t See Me” camoflage t-shirt and cheap “Word Life” chain. I still, to this day, do the “You Can’t See Me” hand sign mockingly with my friends.
And yet, after WWE’s ECW revival in 2006, things quickly changed. Cena was no longer cool. The average adult fan no longer found Cena amusing. It was as if Paul Heyman had unintentionally exposed the very thing wrong with Cena’s gimmick: that he was simply too good for his own good. Not “good” as in “skilled,” but “good” as in “clean-cut, ‘eat-your-vitamins-and-say-your-prayers,’ Hulk Hogan-good.” Cena no longer had the edge he initially had in his rise to the top.
Ironic, seeing as how Edge was one of the few wrestlers that Cena has successfully gotten over as a main eventer…but that’s not the edge I’m referring to. Rather, Cena has lacked depth to his character. He’s simply become a glorified boy scout.
Cena’s character is a living, breathing Superman — hence his derogatory Internet moniker, Super Cena.
Those who don’t understand the intricacies of professional wrestling or the nature of the business, need only understand that repetition and familiarity are hallmarks in mainstream wrestling. This explains the so-called “Five Moves of Doom.” Cena gets beaten up for a good portion of a match, then:
1) Performs a punch or a shoulder block to knock his opponent down;
2) Lands another punch or shoulder block;
3) Executes a Protoplex (spinning reverse powerbomb);
4) Hits the Five-Knuckle Shuffle (fist-drop variation of The Rock’s famous People’s Elbow);
5) Hits the Attitude Adjustment or STF for the pinfall or submission victory;
BONUS: Or (and, boy, this is some exciting stuff) hits the Attitude Adjustment and then the STF for the submission victory, combining both of his finishers and successfully executing a bonus 6th move to complete the Five Moves of Doom.
Seriously. Watch any John Cena match since 2005 and you’ll see that sequence almost every time, move-for-move, without fail, usually near the end of any match, win or lose.
And we get it. It’s a crowd-pleaser and we, as humans, love familiarity. However, there is a distinct difference between being familiar and being stale.
John Cena is stale.
For the past two years, hardcore wrestling fans have waited for Cena to turn heel. The writers have hinted that it could happen at various points, from his WrestleMania encounter against fellow babyface Shawn Michaels, to his temporary stint as a member of The Nexus, to his current feud with The Rock. If ever there was a time for Cena to refresh his character, it would be the build towards his match with The Great One at WrestleMania XXVIII in Rock’s hometown of Miami, where Cena will surely be booed. And yet, WWE refuses to pull the trigger.
WWE has never been about catering to the hardcore fans. Otherwise, Daniel Bryan would be a main eventer instead of lingering in the midcard. However, instances such as the company’s current youth movement and an emphasis on actual wrestling in the Divas division, indicate that WWE does realize that hardcore fans constitute a very vocal portion of their audience. After all, if such fans are dedicated enough to devote their time on the Internet to discussions about WWE (including this very blog post), they’re also dedicated enough to spend their hard-earned money on WWE merchandise and pay-per-views (including this very blogger).
And that’s the problem: while WWE recognizes that hardcore fans will spend money on the company’s products, they’re also afraid that mechandise sales and pay-per-view buyrates will plummet if Cena were to suddenly join the dark side.
Yes, WWE believes that, those same fans who know that wrestling is scripted and will cheer for a person regardless of their face/heel alignment, will also stop buying WWE products if Cena were to turn his back on the fans as part of a storyline. Confused yet?
Turn on almost any broadcast of WWE RAW from this past year and you can tell that a large portion of the crowd is disenchanted with John Cena. Those boos are not out of jealousy towards the man for his success and good looks. Those boos are certainly not out of contrarianism. Those boos are out of boredom and indifference towards a man who the company has force-fed to its viewers. You never heard a crowd react so negatively to the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock when they were the company’s top faces — and many fans actually preferred their work as heels. Why should Cena be any different than those two if he’s the company’s golden goose? Why should he be exempt from a creative refresh?
With apologies to The Rock, why should John Cena be the new people’s champion, if the people don’t want him as their champion?
Agree? Disagree? Continue the conversation below in the comments section, or follow me on Twitter (@FranchiseSAYS).