The WWE has a huge problem on its hands, and its a problem that they have helped create and escalate and Night of Champions 2014- and that problem is John Cena. Now im one of those fans who will chant “John Cena Sucks” but that’s not because I don’t admire his accomplishments, his longevity or his amazing work ethic in the work and with charities it simple because John Cena as a character sucks! But lets look at why?
John Cena has been on the top of the WWE main event card nearly now for 10years since he won his first world title in 2005, and that’s a hell of a long time and a great accomplishment but it’s also one of the problems that WWE have created for themselves and don’t seem to know how to solve. The WWE has never had such a well recognised face and star within their company on the top of the business since Hulk Hogan, and just like with Hulk Hogan’s long title reigns and time at the top this run for Cena has come at a hefty price for the company and the fans, its been a huge block in the development of new stars and provided some less than stellar booking.
There can be no denying that Cean has worked hard every time he goes through the curtain and behind the scenes with his interviews and charity work since he stepped foot in the company and made his way to the top- there is no way you can be the man who grants the most Make a Wish foundations Wishes without working your self super hard, and the level of work he puts into the business needs to be respected by both the WWE and the fans. However the WWE seems unwilling to recognise that while he is the most polarizing character in the history of the company there is a reason he is hated by a huge chunk of the fans and that’s plain and simply ‘Cena cant really be beaten.’ And I realise that this seems like an odd sentiment given that only 5weeks ago he was severely beaten down and lost the title to Brock Lesnar at Summer Slam but lets look at whats happened since to see the problem here.
SummerSlam was a huge shock to many, personally I expected a Lesnar win and called it but no-one expected the match to be so one-sided as Cena was literally rag-dolled around the ring and beaten down for a total of 16minutes by the ‘Beast Brock Lesnar.’ Now the WWE had the opportunity here to do something different with Cena, they could have easily taken him off television for several weeks and have him return a shadow of his former self and need to rebuild his confidence and momentum before returning to the main event- and fans would have loved to see this new aspect to Cena and it would have solved the issue of no new top-level talent in the company as some of the younger guys who are ready to go could have been given opportunities to shine. Instead the WWE decided to wait 48hrs before announcing Cena had been granted a rematch and 7days before he arrived on television. And this is where the WWE showed that they have no idea how to truly book a show and create change within the currently stunted storylines of the company- because the Cena we got was the Cena we all hate.
Cena returned post Summer Slam in a state of determination to achieve and to beat Brock Lesnar’s “ASS” and we were all given an over abundance of just how likely that was as in his first match he managed to dismantle the entire Wyatt Family with a series of AA’s for the win. And then post match was able to hit Seth Rollins with an AA while looking at someone else, when Rollins charged at him, right onto the announce table and didn’t even miss a beat. This is the issue with Cena, even when he should be down and struggling the creative team seem to refuse to allow that to happen and instead we get Cena booked as Superman. We saw this trend continue over the following weeks, as in another tag team match he was able to dominate everyone in the ring with his patterned series of match ending moves to score more and more victories. All the while he never seemed even remotely fazed by the beating he had suffered at the hands of Lesnar, he just kept telling us he was going to beat Lesnar’s ass and walk out the champion. Im going to skip the build up to Night of Champions a little here (I’ll come back to it) and get straight the bout that took place 2days ago, as that is where the problem of the last few years seemed to really compound itself.
At Night of Champions the WWE could still have reset the Cena character, not everything was totally lost as the build up to the PPV had shown some great moments of Cena when dealing with Paul Heyman- the best of these was this past week on RAW when Heyman almost got Cena to do the unthinkable and act in a heelish fashion in an attempt to be able to beat the beast. Now im not saying that a heel turn would have been the right thing for Cena at Night of Champions but it would have made more sense than what we got. Instead we got a John Cena who was beaten down by Brock Lesnar for a good 15minutes, with small and intermittent displays of a fight back and this seemed a well paced and told story that followed the Summer Slam route perfectly and then it all changed for the worst in a single reversal. Cena was able to counter an attempted F5 from Lesnar into a STF (Cena’s version of this still looks weak) which he applied and re-applied to Lesanr around 3times for a good 4mins, but Lesnar still kept crawling towards the ropes and refusing to tap out, as you’d expect. However once Lesnar got to his feet he was hit AA after AA after AA from what now appeared to be a perfectly fresh and healthy Cena that was poised to win and take the title, until Rollins arrived. All of a sudden the match has shifted from a good story telling match to a super Cena display of power and god like wrestling power where the only way he couldn’t win was for Rollins to cause a disqualification by hitting Cena on the back with the Money in the Bank Briefcase. What WWE creative told us was that Cena cant lose twice in a row to anyone- even the man who beat the streak because he’s too god for that. This is where the problem begins and ends!
The route of the problem here is that the WWE creative simply have booked Cena as too good for everyone since 2008- and now there so stuck in the frame that Cena has to win every feud and be successful in the eventual payoff that his character has become stale, boring and parody of the booking system. It’s become very difficult to become interested in the title picture as you know that Cena will be the man to get the gold, even if it take him a series of 3PPV’s to do so. Night of Champions helped confirm one thing and it’s simply that Cena is the only option the WWE consider to be their main event man, despite having a multitude of people in the back ready to be moved up the card. If you don’t believe that then lets look at whats happened over the last 12months, because this issue goes way deeper in the WWE than simply the appalling end to the Lesnar match.
John Cena’s reign has caused the WWE to have a huge void of top level talent ready to ‘step-up and take the spot from him’ (Cena has even quoted this on air) but that’s no-ones fault but creatives here. The Wyatt family and in particular Bray Wyatt were massive when the entered the WWE and went on a rampage beating superstar after superstar and with the promo skills of Wyatt- who may only be second on the mic to Heyman- looked set to be thrust into the main event and the upper card of the roster until Bray was feuded with Cena around Wrestlemania and then it all got reset. Bray looked good going into the match, both men had been kept apart for the majority of the feud and the verbal exchanges had been ok- we got the regular Cena cracking jokes when he should be threatened but it worked on a low-level. As Bray just kept upping the intensity until Cena was doubting himself, and then we got the Wrestlemania match and what could have been the breakout moment for a new top-level star fell short as the outcome of the match was exactly what everyone feared and John Cena was once again able to win cleanly in the middle of the ring. Even when the feud extended two more PPV’s and Wyatt did get a win- which took interference from Rowan and Harper in a steel cage where Cena still looked amazingly strong- in the end Cena got the victory to end the feud by burying Wyatt under equipment in a last man standing match and all the Wyatt momentum was killed and we now have him working in the middle of the card lost.
Bray Wyatt is too good a star to be sitting in the middle of the card doing nothing with tiny feuds- even the win in a feud with Jericho was shifted quickly away to Orton making it once again look meaningless. Would a loss at Wrestlemania have hurt Cena? No, but it would have built a new star but the problem of John Cena struck and we now have a talented wrestler looking to find his place.
At Money in the Bank we had a ladder match for the WWE World Heavyweight title(s) which featured a crop of younger talent, including Wyatt, Regins and Cesaro but Cena was also in the match. Many people expected the winner of this match to only have a short reign as Lesnar had beaten the Undertaker at Wrestlemania and with the injury to Daniel Bryan freeing up the gold, it seemed a good time to give a younger star the rub and see how they handled themselves for several months. However Cena walked out Champion leaving Cesaro looking around for something to do. Cesaro may not be a direct victim of Cena as his loss to Cena on RAW may be the best television match of the year, but he is still a victim of the Cena problem.
Cesaro was hot going into Wresltemania and was even hotter coming out when he won the Andre the Giant battle royal, but after this point got lost in the shuffle (see my thoughts on this) however with a title opportunity at Money in the Bank it looked like he could possibly be walking out with the gold as he was clearly ready for a run at the top and had Paul Heyman in his corner. However WWE’s decision to gie the gold to the trusted and tried champion in the form of Cena left Cesaro with nothing to do from a creative stand point as they had to hype Cena and Lesnar so Heyman was moved away from Cesaro and the focus shifted back to Cena. Cesaro is still now trying to find his way back to the place he had after Wrestlemania just like Bray Wyatt.
Now lets look at the 3rd superstar that was thrust into the Money in the Bank main event in the form of Roman Reigns- he had recently been split from the SHIELD due to Rollins betrayal and was looking strong in his defiance of the Authority, but wasnt quite ready for the title yet. However he had a good showing and it appears is set to be the future of the WWE- and how do we know this? Because he is now the latest victim of the Cena problem, but in a very different way.Reigns is in a uniquely different position as he is being set-up to be the next top star but is still falling victim to the creative teams Cena problem, as he is now being booked in the exactly the same Cena is- He seems unable to lose cleanly to anyone for fear that his reputation and character will be tarnished. The huge support that was there for Reigns is slowly fading away, you can hear it week from week starting to slowly disappear from sections of the fans who know where this is looking like its going, the creative team can’t simply switch Reigns and Cena to solve the problem of booking one superstar.
Creatives booking has caused this massive problem, and this problem has even led to the departure of one of their top and most talented performers in the form of CM Punk as we all know he had two Wrestlemanias as champion that he didn’t even main event because John Cena was there instead. It’s this reliance on Cena that has caused the WWE universe to begin to hate his character and it needs to be solved now- if it’s not already too late. This situation could all be so different as I write this today- I intended this to be a small rant but once I got going I simply can’t stop right now- if WWE had simply allowed Cena to once more to be beaten by the beast this past sunday. There are other options for this to be saved however so lets start with this idea: John Cena takes time away, yes i said that correctly.
If Cena was to meet Lesnar at Hell in the Cell, which now seems likely, and was to receive a huge beating at the hands of the Beast inside the structure leaving him ‘in a pool of blood, vomit and urine’ he could take some time off television (and I mean a few months) only to return and have to work his way back into the title picture beating several of the stars that have filed the void he’s left. However Cena would inevitably need to lose to one of these stars in a number one contender match for a Wrestlemania spot for the problem to begin to spiral again. This would not only be a great use of Cena to build momentum and excitement for his return but it would also legitimately give a new top-level star a seal of approval. But can creative imagine a main event without Cena two yeas in a row at Wrestlemania? Or could they even imagine him off television for several months while he’s not injured?
Secondly WWE could move Cena away from the Beast after a loss at Hell in the Cell (im not going to pretend this match wont happen despite my desires) and add him to a feud with Rusev. Yes i understand that Rusev is one of the few growing new talents that hasn’t had the Cena problem yet, but I think Rusev could survive this better than his predecessors simply because of his gimmick. If you pitted Cena against Rusev for a couple of months in the current USA vs Russia feud and gave Rusev the first two wins, you could still give Cena the final rub of conquering the Russian but he would have the hatred of the wrestling nation against him and could continue to be a dominate heel moving forward while Cena regains some ground.
Finally here is the most logical but less likely than me finding a unicorn option- turn Cena Heel. Why not have Cena lose to the Beast in a totally destructive way at Hell in the Cell and return to RAW only to call out Paul Heyman and admit he can’t beat the Beast, and as he finally ‘gave up’ he may aswell throw it all away and give up everything. This would be a great way to see Cena totally beaten down and downtrodden, and having Heyman take advantage of this to make him do his bidding all because he can help him finally conquer the ‘Conqueror’ in the end would really add a new layer to the tired old Cena formula and would still allow for Cena to beat Lesnar down the line and redeem himself in the eyes of the Cenation. THe only problem with this is the creative will never go for it.
Until creative decides to switch their focus and start to build new talent, and shows willing to allow that talent to beat Cena in a meaningful way im afraid were stuck with a problem like John Cena- and it will continue to strangle the development of the WWE in every way possible.