Heels that should be babyfaces. Every once in a while we will take a look at some Superstars currently performing in WWE that are being used incorrectly. We are going to focus on the “good guy” and “bad guy” aspect of their packaging. Sometimes it will be a heel that should be a babyface, and sometimes it will be the opposite.
You can check out the past edition of “Heels That Should Be Babyfaces: Antonio Cesaro” by clicking here.
Today we are going to take a look at “the face of WWE” and current World Heavyweight Champion, John Cena.
All good things come to an end. Mike Tyson couldn’t be the scary knockout artist in heavyweight boxing forever. The New York Yankees can’t win the MLB World Series every year. And John Cena can’t be expected to perform in front of 10,000-plus fans live, and millions watching around the world on television, packaged with the same exact act. It grows tired. Fans get sick of it. They’ve had enough. Everyone has heard the thunderous mixed-bag reaction that Cena elicits every time he comes through the curtain at a WWE event. Eventually, the fans demand something better. At the very least, they demand something different. Something new.
John Cena has been the top guy in the company for as long as I care to remember, and has added his name to a short list that includes Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, Bret “The Hitman” Hart and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin as someone who has been without question “the guy” in WWE for a lengthy period of time. Hell, even Hart had Shawn Michaels, and Austin had The Rock, who arguments could be made for as their equals when using the benefit of hindsight when looking at each “era” in WWE history. If that’s the case, Cena is on an even shorter list, more exclusive list. The bottom line, however, is that it’s time for a change. What better time, by the way, than at WrestleMania XXX in April fo 2014?
By now we have all heard the rumors that WWE is trying to re-sign Hulk Hogan to work as one of the featured attractions at next year’s annual showcase event. We all remember what happened the last time Hogan squared off at a WrestleMania in a match that featured one generation’s top guy against another’s. It was WrestleMania X8. It was Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock. WWE did everything in their power to make sure Hogan would come off as the heel in their match. The Rock, at the time, was one of, if not the single biggest babyfaces in the company at the time. During the match, however, the fans made it clear that Hogan was their guy, and Rock was the enemy. Hogan has that effect on the WWE Universe. Fans of WWE, no matter how much they may claim otherwise on places like the internet, remember and respect what Hogan has done for WWE. Every time he stays off of WWE television for a considerable amount of time results in his returning to a giant wave of positive nostalgia. They’re happy to see him back. They’re excited that in their lifetimes they get to see the guy who arguably started it all do what he does best. Having a Cena vs. Hogan match at WrestleMania XXX, as has been rumored, could be the perfect launching pad for Cena as a heel character in WWE.
While we’re talking about Hogan, does anyone remember what happened when after years as the absolute top babyface in pro wrestling, Hogan finally did the unthinkable and turned heel in WCW? It marked the dawning of the New World Order faction, and the beginning of WCW kicking WWE’s ass for over 80 weeks straight on television. Younger fans may think a Cena heel turn is simply out of the question. It won’t be done simply because he’s too ingrained in the minds of the public as a squeaky clean good-guy. So was Hogan, and when his heel turn came out of left field, it was the biggest thing to hit the industry at the time. It delivered results. Substantial results.
The fact of the matter is Cena is in the exact same position as Hogan when WCW made the brave move to do the unimaginable and turn the red-and-yellow wearing hero into the black-and-white wearing dastardly villain. And guess what? It worked then, and it would likely work just as well now. Why? The fans are begging WWE for the opportunity to “boo” John Cena. When the decision was made to turn Hogan, he was receiving the same mixed-bag reaction that Cena has been getting for years. By the time Hogan reached WCW, his act was stale. Played out. Yesterday’s newspaper. The exact same can be said for Cena today. The fans are sick of seeing the same thing, especially as the featured act on the show week-in and week-out for over a decade.
So the question becomes, what can you do to turn Cena heel? How can you convince even the little kids who still idolize Cena even though teenagers and young adults have seen — and grown tired — of the same-old John Cena, to boo and hate the guy with passion? It’s simple. No one likes a bully. Hell, WWE has an entire campaign dedicated to that very fact. Have Cena bully the old, beaten up Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania XXX. He wins. Hogan passes the torch. But for Cena, it’s not enough. He’s still bitter about losing the last “generation vs. generation” showdown he took part in at a WrestleMania event against The Rock. Evening the score with Rocky a year later isn’t good enough for him. He wants to make a statement. He wants to prove that he is better than Hogan. He is better than The Rock. He’s better than all of you. Hell, he’s better than me. He’s simply put the best in the business. He proves it by beating Hogan and then continuing to mercilessly and viciously thrash the old dog who just wanted to see if he’s still got it. Cena’s insulted that Hogan would even think that he could beat him. He wants to make him pay for even trying. For even entertaining the thought. That’s the starting off point.
From there, it shouldn’t take much, as the fans already would kill to actually have a reason to boo John Cena. If Cena is such a man of the people as he claims, then give the people what they want. What they want is to tell you that you suck. Not because you aren’t a hard worker, because that much has been established by this point. Not because you don’t care, because that too has been made clear. But simply because they don’t like you. If they don’t like you, hell, give them a reason. And as you’ve done with the role you’ve portrayed for the past decade-plus, be the best at it. Prove that like the man two generation’s before you, you can work on top as the best good guy for years and years, and when the time is right, and the fans you cherish so much are demanding it, prove that you can work on top as the best bad guy for years and years. It will certainly be easier to play into those negative reactions than to continually fight against them.
Hulk Hogan vs. John Cena. WrestleMania XXX. The night Cena finally turns heel. Hogan tears his shirt off and goes to battle with Cena. Cena tears his head off for even trying. And the torch is finally passed to someone who will accept it and run with it, instead of taking it and running to Hollywood with it.
….Attention WWE: it’s time to turn John Cena heel.
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NOTE: The above item is an eWrestlingNews.com opinionated editorial, and should not be confused as a factual news item. Readers can contact the author of the above editorial, Matt Boone, via Twitter @MBoone420 or by posting your immediate feedback in the “Comments” section below.
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