The Great John Cena Turning Heel Debate.
For years, adult male wrestling fans have cried through the keyboard about John Cena and his status in WWE. “Turn Cena heel already!” The demand of the Internet Fan. Meanwhile, the women and children remain latched to their crush/hero and would like nothing more than for Cena to remain the same colourful, catch-phrase-spewing, babyface he has been for the past decade.
Today, we once again look at the John Cena turning heel proposal from the perspective of the irritated grown man with nothing better to do with his time but rant about a WWE Superstar, but such is life on the World Wide Wasteland. However, the following piece will not focus entirely on the positives of a Cena hell turn, but rather weigh the Pros and Cons of the suggested scenario.
Make no mistake about this: John Cena remains the guy in WWE, no matter how often Roman Reigns will refer to himself as such. The sound of Cena’s theme music will instantly alter the atmosphere inside the arena. Cena is that powerful of a Superstar, akin to the sounds of “I am a Real American” or shattering glass. There is no conceivable way to deny the impact of the fifteen-time World Champion.
The following are 8 benefits and 8 downfalls of a John Cena heel turn:
8. Benefit: New Gear
The jokes about John Cena’s jorts (jean-shorts) continue to surface on WWE programming. First with The Rock and recently during a back-and-forth promo involving Cena and A.J. Styles.
Aside from the jorts, John Cena has run the rainbow in terms of t-shirt colours. Once again, pointed out by The Rock and the “big fat bowl of Fruity Pebbles” line during The Rock’s long-awaited return promo back in 2011.
So, naturally, a John Cena heel turn would lay to rest the bright colours. Well, perhaps not the jorts but certainly the t-shirts. This would make way for a “darker” side of Cena, a black-and-white Hollywood Hogan-type Cena character.
No more towels with an inspirational message. No more multi-coloured wristbands. No more loud, look-at-me t-shirts. Simply, John Cena; black, white, colourless, and looking for a fight.
New gear may seem trivial in the grand scheme of a John Cena heel turn but sometimes the simplest and smallest things – especially in Sports Entertainment/Wrestling – can lead to the biggest changes.
8. Downfall: Merchandise Sales
One thing that must be made perfectly clear to anybody who doesn’t fully understand the WWE product is that money matters most and there is no exception to this rule. The WWE is all about business.
There was once a time when CM Punk – who happened to be the hottest commodity in the industry during this period – was keeping up with if not surpassing John Cena in merchandise sales.
Of course, CM Punk has since left WWE and aside from the rise of Daniel Bryan, who else could compete with John Cena at the merchandise stand? Roman Reigns? Dean Ambrose? Close but no Cena.
John Cena is the Cash Cow. The guy who sells the most merchandise and the guy who makes his boss top dollar on his likeness. Vince McMahon knows that a heel turn will greatly impact the merchandise table.
And let’s be clear: people will not line-up to buy the John Cena heel t-shirt the way fans once purchased the nWo apparel back in the ’90s. Cena making the turn will affect the way products are moved online and at live events.
7. Benefit: Ratings Boost?
Monday Night Raw and the soon-to-be Tuesday Night SmackDown remain the only true televised programs in WWE. Sure, fans are tuning into NXT, Breaking Ground, Table for 3, and other such programs, but these are broadcast on the Network.
Ratings are important to WWE. Perhaps not as important as they once were during the Monday Night War but maintaining that pivotal Monday Night audience is an essential part of the company moving forward.
With SmackDown finally going live this summer, and a brand split imminent, the initial ratings are sure to see a spike as the curiosity of fans will reach certain highs. However, will WWE be able to maintain this high?
One go-to formula to help improve ratings has always been the element of surprise. Should John Cena become an exclusive SmackDown talent, a heel turn could bring the “B-Show” back to an A-caliber level.
John Cena embracing his heel side would definitely spark interest among fans and could potentially produce a massive bump in ratings as viewers would feel obligated to follow the new path of Cena.
7. Downfall: Ratings Drop?
Everybody has big plans for John Cena and a possible heel turn. The subject is often discussed and there have been plenty of scenarios/situations in which Cena turning heel would have been ideal.
However, one thing that is seemingly overlooked in the John Cena heel turn discussion is the possibility of an outright flop. What if Cena taking the turn results in a drastic consequences for the company?
Perhaps those loyal to John Cena will not tune-in to watch their long-time hero suddenly spit on everything he ever held dear. What if “Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect” is not just another WWE catchphrase?
John Cena is not your average Superstar who you can simply flip back-and-forth from babyface to heel. If Cena turns heel, Cena needs to really turn heel, with no half-hearted approach here.
In turn, this could anger enough people that the ratings could see a downward spike. John Cena means the world to a lot of people and not just as a WWE Superstar, but a real-life philanthropist.
6. Benefit: Fresh Twist
In WWE, things often feel stagnant as storylines are recycled and angles are pushed far beyond their expiration date. The fresh-air can quickly turn toxic even upon the return of a mega-star or debut of a beloved wrestler.
The problem once again comes back to the Internet Fan. While WWE (particularly Triple H) have taken notice of this crop of viewer, the company will always cater to the Casual Fan over any hardcore wrestling junkie.
Turning John Cena Heel would absolutely provide a fresh take on everything. The air in WWE would not be masked with Febreze but would actually provide a fresh and rejuvenating breath to the audience.
John Cena finally taking the plunge into a heel character would feel weird and perhaps wonderful for a while. And isn’t that what wrestling is all about? Felling something; anything to help escape the pressures of reality.
Yes, John Cena turning heel would be the biggest twist WWE has pulled in quite some time. The move would serve as an immediate risk but would keep things surrounding this New Era feeling fresh.
6. Downfall: Fresh for Whom?
Perhaps this point has not been driven home, so let’s point it out once more: Vince McMahon doesn’t care about your opinion. Your outrage doesn’t matter. Your posts do not matter. This article doesn’t matter.
When Vince McMahon states in character that he knows what the fans want better than the fans themselves, that is not a storyline proclamation, that is the true thought process of McMahon and it is not about to change.
Turning John Cena heel would provide a fresh feeling for the Internet Wrestling Community, those who will never matter to Vince McMahon. Everything runs through McMahon and Cena flipping sides is not something of interest to the boss.
Many may point out the Daniel Bryan situation and how the fans willed Bryan into the WrestleMania XXX main event picture. And yes, Bryan went out to capture the WWE World Heavyweight Championship that night in New Orleans, but so what?
Did you really believe that Daniel Bryan was going to carry the company into the next generation? Roman Reigns was always the plan, even though our subject, John Cena, will never be that far away from the title scene.
5. Benefit: Bring Back Older Fans
When WWE made the switch from TV-14 over to PG, many long-time fans of the previous WWE lunacy would pack their bags and search elsewhere for a wrestling fix or kick the habit all together.
Meanwhile, rumours appear on a fairly regular basis about WWE switching its format back towards a edgier product. This would obviously be a welcome change for many older fans and could potentially increase the number of viewers.
However, for such a change to occur, who will serve as the catalyst? The only choice here is John Cena. In order for WWE to remove it’s PG label, the ultimate PG Guy would have to flip first.
If you recall the earlier days of John Cena, much controversy surrounded the young Superstar as The Doctor of Thuganomics gimmick took off in full-force with Cena’s often vicious rap lyrics.
This hypothetical journey back to the beginning for John Cena could cause many fans who have given up on WWE all together to trust its new direction and once again tune into the USA Network.
5. Downfall: Believability?
After all these years with the goofy smile and slogans, can John Cena prove a believable heel? Once again, we can revert back to the Hulk Hogan example and his famous heel turn back in 1996.
Hulk Hogan possessed a goofy smile of his own while consistently feeding fans slogans of hope. Hogan actually had the children of Hulkamania praying and taking vitamins on a daily basis.
As it pertains to John Cena, the children of Cenation truly believe that they should “Never Give Up” and that’s a good thing. The difference here is that Hulk Hogan preached hope while Cena inspires hope.
What made Hulk Hogan such a believable heel is that those “in-the-now” knew that Hulkamania was simply a paycheck for Hogan. John Cena on the other hand, lives Cenation every day.
At this point, it proves difficult to believe John Cena as the typical “wrestling bad guy.” Especially in a day and age where the curtain has been pulled back on the lives of these WWE Superstars.
4. Benefit: New Attitude for the New Era
How much are you really buying into this New Era concept? If WWE are truly behind this movement, then Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn should main event WrestleMania next year in Orlando.
Of course, we all know that will never happen. And there is a simply reason for this: Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were not made in WWE. These two cut their teeth elsewhere and thus they must suffer.
However, if we take an optimistic look at this and for a brief moment assume that the WWE will back the New Era then the company will need John Cena to transition into a new role.
John Cena rarely loses in clean fashion. And even when this shooting-star-moment occur (Kevin Owens accomplished this task), it is quickly rectified with Cena coming out on top and looking better than ever.
Perhaps a new attitude is the way to go with this New Era. After all, John Cena is the measuring stick and all NXT call-ups will have to go through Cena in order to receive proper recognition. Cena turning heel could aid this process along.
4. Downfall: Will it Work?
How exactly would John Cena as a heel translate into the New Era? Will Cena feel like the old man who is hanging around too long or will Cena appear as a newly-formed character who is must see television?
When transitioning between Eras, things can become rather messy with WWE Superstars. Think back to the New Generation: “Macho Man” Randy Savage was left hanging at the announce table during this period.
And even though Randy Savage felt he had a lot more to offer – which he would later prove in WCW – Vince McMahon would opt to keep Savage out of in-ring action as Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels became the focal points of the Era.
The John Cena heel turn would need to be treated as though it were a precious and delicate piece of glass. One false move and the entire thing will shatter into a million pieces, unable to repair.
So, will it work? The only way to know for sure would involve the actual heel turn of John Cena. If that day should come, prepare for a ride; either down a rocky road of smoothly paved highway.
3. Benefit: Stepping Aside
When John Cena surpasses Ric Flair for all-time World Championship victories, Cena needs to be a babyface. Yes, you can argue how that seventeenth title could come in cheap fashion with Cena as a heel, helping sooth the burn.
However, John Cena has won every single WWE and World Heavyweight Championship of his career as a babyface. There is no reason for this record to be broken as a heel. The honourable way (babyface) is the right way.
If John Cena turns heel, Cena could step aside for a brand new top face to emerge. And, for Ric Flair enthusiasts, keep Cena away from that coveted World Championship record. Cena would then serve more as a stepping stone.
This may “only be wrestling” to some people but to others, this Squared-Circle Circus means so much more. And yes, championship victories are predetermined so hypothetically anybody could surpass Ric Flair.
However, realists know that the day John Cena moves ahead of “The Nature Boy” is fast approaching but maybe, just maybe, if Cena turns heel such a day will never arrive. Instead, fans will watch the new “face who runs the place.”
3. Downfall: Replacement?
Before we dive too deep into this one, let’s get it out of the way: Roman Reigns is not the replacement for John Cena. However, if not Reigns – the guy chosen by the company – then who?
Dean Ambrose? No. While Ambrose is currently a top face in WWE, “The Lunatic Fringe” does not possess the kind of face the company would choose to replace their top star in John Cena.
What about Seth Rollins? The unsung leader of the New Generation. Rollins served the company well as WWE World Heavyweight Champion, but is not ready to transition into a babyface role.
Anybody else? Kevin Owens or Cesaro? The Real Wrestlers. WWE would never allow a Professional Wrestler to replace John Cena. This replacement needs to appeal to the Sports Entertainment world.
The reality here is that there is no replacement for John Cena. The current roster lacks that guy; the one who will step-up and turn the industry upside down in the same manner of Cena.
2. Benefit: Feuds
Remember the days of John Cena and Randy Orton? When nearly every Pay-Per-View for a long period of time would feature Cena and Orton doing battle in the main event. It worked for a while, then grew stale.
Of course, there was also John Cena and Edge; who traveled down this same path. However, the Cena/Edge feud never lost any momentum. Perhaps it had something to do with Edge having more personality than Randy Orton.
If John Cena turns heel, there are a number of new feuds in which he can embark upon. Cena finding himself in a long-standing rivalry with Dean Ambrose would surely make for memorable programming.
Sami Zayn – one of the best call-ups to WWE – could benefit greatly from a lengthy feud with John Cena. The only problem would be the final decision as to who goes over. Cena would need to allow for these Superstars to come out strong and victorious.
John Cena could make or break anybody’s career and a willing-to-lose heel Cena could jumpstart or catapult a major WWE run for a fresh-faced talent looking to make a name on such a large stage.
2. Downfall: Unnecessary Turn
John Cena draws more love and heat from the live audience than any other Superstar on the roster. On any given night, half of the arena will stand firmly behind Cena while the other half will boo unmercifully.
It’s all right to hate on John Cena as Cena himself thrives on that energy and truly enjoys the mixed emotions from the crowd. If you watch Cena in the ring during a promo, it becomes clear that he is having a good time at work.
With all the negativity comes a strange twist with John Cena. Yes, Cena is the top babyface in WWE, but in many ways, Cena is also the top heel. Therefore, why bother with the official turn?
John Cena can challenge any heel and instantly become the villain instead. Cena can challenge any babyface and become the unanimous heel. Cena vs. Daniel Bryan is concrete proof.
And this theory doesn’t end with Daniel Bryan. Much of the same has occurred with John Cena taking on CM Punk, Rob Van Dam, and The Rock. In the end, a Cena heel turn is unnecessary for WWE to pursue.
1. Benefit: Major Storyline
Much like Hulk Hogan turning heel and forming the nWo, a John Cena turn would lead to a major storyline; good or bad. Aside from the storyline, Cena’s turn would also draw major headlines.
This would cause the wrestling world to flip out as the discussion would make its way through social media and remain a hot topic for quite some time. Questions will be asked and predictions will be made.
One of the biggest factors that comes along with turning John Cena heel involves the question of whom would serve as the victim? Hulk Hogan dropped a leg on Randy Savage to make the turn, who would be Cena’s Savage?
The most loveable face in WWE right now is Dean Ambrose, but could an attack on Ambrose provide much of an impact? Probably not. The next logical choice is to avoid the Superstars all together.
So, on whom does John Cena make his long-awaited heel turn? The answer: Shane McMahon. Since his return to WWE, the fans have loved every minute of Shane who would ultimately best serve Cena’s turn.
1. Downfall: The Kids
All right, now let’s be completely honest: what the hell is wrong with you? Why can’t you simply leave John Cena alone? You must have a son, daughter, niece, nephew, or cousin who idolizes Cena.
The only WWE Superstar who was perhaps move beloved by the kids was Hulk Hogan (Yes, another comparison but they’re difficult to avoid). In fact, Hogan may have been your childhood hero.
Now ask yourself this: how did you feel when you discovered that Hulk Hogan was a bigoted blowhard with a lack of pure human decency? Better yet, how would that have made you feel if such a thing was discovered as a child?
Turning John Cena heel would devastate millions of children all over the world; many of whom are burdened with unfortunate and unfair circumstances. Cena granting wishes changes these circumstances – if only for a while – for these children.
Here’s the deal: continue to hate on John Cena for the remainder of his career. Continue to chant “Cena Sucks” at the other end of “Let’s Go, Cena.” The final fact here is that Cena turning heel will not happen.
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