It's time the WWE Universe faces the facts. John Cena is always going to be the face of World Wrestling Entertainment, and he ain't going anywhere unless he decides to hang up the boots; or in his case, hangs up the running shoes. Yes, Cena has his devoted fans but for the most part, at least among men, people just really don't like the guy. Is it actually John Cena that people don't like though, or is it the WWE machine failing to change things up with his character?
Think about that for a second. I personally will admit that I was hardly a fan of Cena's for the better part of the last decade. But I'd be lying if I didn't acknowledge that it's pretty obvious Cena's been working his tail off to deliver must-see matches these past few years with Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, and Cesaro to name a few. Cena stepped down into the mid-card for the first time in years to help establish stars with his United States Championship Open Challenge and it was a very welcome change of pace.
The main problem we have with John Cena (and now Roman Reigns), is that if we don't cheer for him, the WWE should use the chorus of "boos" to their advantage, and create a fantastic heel with it. If we already hate these two guys, what does WWE have to lose? With Roman Reigns and the way he's been acting since he won the Title at WrestleMania 32, it seems as if WWE might finally turn Reigns into the bad guy we've always wanted him to be. As we know from the past however, we shouldn't hold our collective breaths just yet because we've been booing Cena for years and it hasn't stopped his "Never Give Up" attitude even a little.
There have been countless times WWE could have turned John Cena into the bad guy, but failed in pulling the trigger mainly due to him being the top merchandiser and the go-to for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. We get that point, but if Cena were to turn heel, the little kids will eventually have someone else to cheer for. Also, if John Cena were to turn heel, it doesn't mean that he has to talk trash to the children in the audience. He could even cut a promo stating that he still loves his fans, but he is finished trying to please everybody. I don't know, something! Anything! The kids will get over it is my point.
So imagine then the current landscape of the WWE if Cena turned heel 10 years ago, or even five years ago; John Cena could have had a much more interesting career. Stone Cold and The Rock were WWE's biggest stars too, but guess what, they changed their characters up. It's the nature of the business; it's what keeps wrestlers so fresh and original.
Today we will be looking at 12 perfect opportunities throughout John Cena's career where it would have been beneficial to finally bring back the heel John Cena.
Feel free to agree or disagree.
12 2005 Brand Draft
After John Cena had already established himself as Smackdown's top star, there was no doubt he'd eventually make his way to Monday Night Raw. Drafted in 2005, wouldn't it have made more of an impact had Cena come to Raw as a darker, more evil character? He would have been ready to prove himself as the most dominate Superstar to have ever stepped foot into a running shoe. But seriously, at this point Cena wasn't yet the go-to for Make-A-Wish, so a heel turn at this point would have been refreshing for both Raw and his character.
11 After One Night Stand 2006
At this point in John Cena's career, fans were turning against him, heavily booing him in matches with Kurt Angle, Edge, and Triple H. At the One Night Stand PPV in 2006, fans took it to a whole new level, promising a riot if John Cena won in his match against Rob Van Dam for the WWE Championship.
RVD was wisely chosen as the victor, but John Cena would still remain in the WWE Title picture as the "face" of WWE and not much changed. How great would it have been if the next night on Raw after his match with Rob Van Dam, John Cena annihilated Mr. Monday Night, turning heel in the process? If anything, this would have been the smartest time to do it, as the hate against Cena was still fresh, and a heel turn could have reinvigorated his character to new heights. We all know Cena can talk, so just imagine the insults he could have thrown to the audience who just recently turned on him.
10 After Bragging Rights 2009
Three years go by, and guess what? John Cena is still the man to beat. If fans were getting tired of his shtick in 2006, and trust me... they were over it by 2009. We get it, WWE attempted to make John Cena into a Hulk Hogan for a new generation, but instead of vitamins and prayers, Cena preached loyalty and respect. Still, you can't ignore the chorus of boos fans continuously threw at Cena each and every week.
Well, WWE ignored it... but what if they hadn't? What if they finally pulled the plug on Super Cena? What about if after his 60-minute Iron Man match against Randy Orton at Bragging Rights in 2009, Cena came out to the ring, held the belt up in the air like the cocky SOB we know he could be and cut a promo about how he's proven time and time again that he's the best in the WWE. He could have then followed that up by saying if the fans can't see it, he's over trying to please them. Maybe after that he could have, FU'ed Jim Ross through the announce table or something! Obviously the Jim Ross part is sort of a joke, but a heel turn here would have been a surprise nobody would have saw coming.
9 SummerSlam 2010
When The Nexus broke into the scene, it helped freshen up a very stale product, and as much as the Nexus was hated by the WWE Universe, you could argue that some fans hated John Cena even more. When Nexus debuted, Daniel Bryan was fired that same week due to being too violent for a PG show, but if you look back at that fateful night you can hear Daniel Bryan telling John Cena that he "isn't better than [him]".
So, when Daniel Bryan finally made his return as a face at the 2010 edition of SummerSlam to help Cena defeat the Nexus, how amazing would it have been if after the match, John Cena delivered an AA to Daniel Bryan, exacting his revenge and yes, turning heel. The feud Cena and Bryan could have had would have brought in a lot more interest to the WWE, which is exactly what it needed at the height of the PG era.
8 Joining the Nexus
In late 2010, Wade Barrett defeated John Cena in a Hell in a Cell match, which resulted in Cena having no other choice but to join his stable, The Nexus. Throughout the following weeks, John Cena would be forced to help Nexus , and at Survivor Series he was even given the job of special guest referee in Barrett's match against Orton. The match did have one stipulation though; if Barrett were to lose, Cena would be forced to quit the WWE.
Believe it or not, Orton did win so the next night on Raw Cena delivered a heartfelt speech and left. However, despite not having a "job" anymore with the company, he still stuck around to make Nexus's life a living hell. But what if Cena finally gave in, and legitimately joined the Nexus, doing anything possible to keep his job? It would have helped keep Wade Barrett relevant, and not only would Cena's character get a much needed change, every single member of the Nexus could have benefited, and perhaps this would have made them all stars.
7 After WrestleMania 27
After The Rock screwed John Cena at WrestleMania 27 in his match against The Miz for the WWE Championship, both parties agreed to a match. The one-on-one match would take place at the next year's WrestleMania, marking the first instance where a match would be scheduled an entire year in advance. When this announcement was made, they should have just turned Cena heel, as the fans were always going to cheer for The Rock anyway.
Instead of the face vs. face dynamic we wound up experiencing, if Cena would have spent the entire year of the build-up as a bad guy, we could have experienced a more intense feud going into their battle. We all know Cena wasn't happy about The Rock coming back to take the spotlight anyway, so why fight it?
6 Before Wrestlemania XXIX
CM Punk was the hottest thing WWE had going, yet the company continued to ignore its fans by having The Rock defeat him at the Royal Rumble PPV in 2013, effectively ending Punks impressive 434 day reign as WWE Champion. Why did they do this? They did this just to have John Cena face The Rock again at WrestleMania... making it a twice-in-a-lifetime match, that pretty much nobody cared to see again.
So, if WWE was finally going to give Cena the win against The Rock, couldn't they have had Cena turn heel, and actually do something different to get the fans rallied up for their second encounter? If you're going to annoy your fans, do it with some originality please. Instead, we got a paint by numbers story the second time around which only ruined everything Punk tried to establish for a pointless rematch.
5 After TLC 2013
At this point, we're kind of sick of John Cena, right? His character hasn't changed one bit for the better part of a decade, and all we want as fans is something different.
When The Authority became a thing, they chose Randy Orton as their right-hand man (even though Randy Orton brutalized Triple H's wife a few years beforehand) and Orton would battle with Cena. Their match would be for the unification of both the World Heavyweight and WWE Championships at TLC: Tables, Ladders, and Chairs. Wouldn't it have been a swerve then, if Cena won and actually sided with The Authority?
Instead of a feud with The Wyatts going into WrestleMania XXX, a heel Cena siding with The Authority against Daniel Bryan could have been interesting, no?
4 Joining The Authority In 2014
Going into Survivor Series in 2014, The Authority provided John Cena with a chance to join them, but as we know Cena would never do such a thing. With Cena standing his ground it became a Team Cena vs. Team Authority match in a traditional five-on-five elimination match with The Authority's jobs on the line. The Big Show was chosen as one of the represented five for Team Cena, but surprise surprise, he turned heel (for the hundredth time in his illustrious career) during the match to help set up The Authority for the win. However, Dolph Ziggler surprisingly picked up the victory for Team Cena, and The Authority had no other choice but say goodbye...
A few observations about this event:
1) Big Show's heel turn did nothing for him or the product
2) The Authority ended up coming back anyway!
3) Why not make a heel turn mean something? If Cena would have turned to help The Authority pick up the win at Survivor Series, we could have had an exceptional plot twist. Again, the fans hate Cena anyway so why not embrace the hate and join the people who will make your life a whole lot easier?
"Hustle. Loyalty. And Respect the Authority!" could have been his catch phrase.
3 U.S. Championship Open Challenge
Okay, the hate on Cena was finally starting to diminish at this point. His wrestling was improving, and his matches were so top notch that even though he was winning, he was finally making his opponents look pretty damn strong in the process. So after challenging and defeating babyface after babyface during his United States Open Challenge each week, wouldn't it have been cool if one babyface actually managed to beat him?
Let's take for example, Sami Zayn. When Zayn made his Raw debut in his match against Cena, imagine if Cena lost. Zayn would have won the United States Championship, and Cena could have responded by brutally attacking him. Having Cena turn against our beloved Sami would have been a turn that would have hurt the very soul of the WWE Universe.
2 WrestleMania 32
God bless The Rock, but damn his appearance at WrestleMania 32 was kind of lame. He defeated poor Erick Rowan in six seconds, and just before he was about to get a beat down by the entire Wyatt Family, Cena ran out for the save.
Now, here's an idea. What if John Cena came out, made the save, but turned on The Rock after... thus, turning heel at the grandest stage of them all; at WrestleMania!
First off, we all know John Cena doesn't like The Rock, so this would have made sense. Second, it would have created a legitimate WrestleMania moment, and third, it would have set up John Cena vs. The Rock Number three, because why not, right? They both have one win on each other, don't you want to know who would get the third?
Plus, at this point, we just want John Cena to turn heel! Therefore, our next point...
1 When He Returns This Year
John Cena is still out of action and is most likely to make his return this summer. So please, WWE... we don't care how you do it, but it's time that our Chain Gang Soldier gets a much needed character change. Not only for the WWE Universe, but for John Cena himself. Listen to how the crowd reacts to Cesaro and to Sami Zayn. They're faces and they get the reaction a face should get. Hell, listen to the reactions Bray Wyatt and Kevin Owens get. They're heels and they still get cheered.
Heels are in; if John Cena is heel, he may even get cheers again. We're not booing Cena because we don't like him, we boo him because we're tired of the same old thing year after year. Everybody should have a successful heel run with the WWE, especially in a career that has went as long as John Cena's has.
So in 2016, I think it's time WWE finally does pull the trigger and give fans a much needed boost for the character of John Cena we love to hate.