A look at the comparison between John Cena and two mainstream sports stars, and why the WWE needs him as he is right now.
The last 48 hours of professional wrestling have been truly magnificent, from Survivor Series to last night’s Raw. It’s been packed with intrigue, mystery, plot twists – everything modern wrestling fans crave. Long gone are the days when one champion would suffice for a year without fans crying about having someone "forced down their throats."
John Cena has had to deal with that card being played on him for years. "Super Cena." "He’s being forced down our throats." "He only knows 5 moves." Nevermind the fact that he’s been the biggest and most consistent draw in pro wrestling since Steve Austin. Nevermind the fact that he’s created some of the more interesting moments of the past 7 years. Nevermind how much he’s elevated his game of late to really help the Nexus angle get over as one of the best in wrestling. None of that matters, because only little kids and women cheer for him, and any guy over the age of 18 should hate him. In fact, his brilliantly self-aware goodbye promo last night when he asked for the young and female half of the crowd to chant "Let’s Go Cena" while the 18+ males chanted "Cena Sucks" may go down as a top 50 RAW moment for me.
We’re all smarks, right? We’re all internet wrestling fans, no? So we can all pretty much say with a high degree of certainty that John Cena isn’t "done" and wasn’t "fired." Predicting the next time we see John Cena on WWE programming could be more fun than a pool to guess the due date of the rest of the arm that should have come out of Mae Young years ago. And yet one of the major topics of discussion on the forums centers around a major theme – When will John Cena turn heel? They missed the perfect opportunity to turn Cena heel at Survivor Series. And on Raw last night.
Pop quiz, kiddies, let’s see if you’ve been paying attention to SportsCenter lately. The #1 selling jersey in all of the NFL is _______. If you cannot get this short answer style, I’ll make it multiple choice for you. A) Tom Brady B) Peyton Manning C) Aaron Rodgers D) Tim Tebow. If you said the answer is "D" with Tim Tebow, then you are absolutely right. Tim Tebow, with his less-than-stellar NFL career and the very real possibility that he never becomes a star in the National Football League, has sold more jerseys than Donovon McNabb (switching teams from Philly to Washington), Drew Brees (despite being the poster child for NFLShop.com) or Tony Romo.
Why do you think that is?
Here’s an opinion – it’s because of guys like Ben Roethlisberger, Michael Vick, LeBron James, Tiger Woods, Roger Clemens, Brett Favre, and maybe – MAYBE – Lance Armstrong. The American sports fan feels betrayed by its stars. Whether legal troubles, dog fighting, or performance enhancing drugs, fans are watching the squeaky clean images of their sporting heroes disintegrate on an almost hourly basis. Who can a fan believe in anymore?
Tim Tebow. Tim Duncan. And dammit, John Cena.
This is part of what makes wrestling fans so insanely unique and maddening at the same time. The type of clean-cut hero that sports needs right now is exactly the guy wrestling fans jeer in a post-Austin, post-Rock, post-Attitude era. Hogan went heel long before messy public divorces and reality shows, so it was heartbreaking. You could always count on Hogan. #1 on the Make-a-Wish Foundation request list during the 80’s. Incidentally, I googled "Make-a-Wish Foundation Most Requested Celebrities" just now, and guess what came up as the 3rd item in my search? http://www.wish.org/news/news_releases/2009_cg_awards. John Cena has granted 147 wishes since 2004. Since this was a stat published in 2005, that means roughly 260 weeks went by during that time frame. Cena averaged better than one wish granted every two weeks.
But when’s he going heel?
Smarky internet fan needs to put himself and his greedy needs aside for a moment and realize there’s something far greater at work here. Pro Wrestling NEEDS John Cena right now, in a world where despite the falls from grace of superstars at such an alarming rate, pro wrestlers are still looked down upon. Cena is the biggest and best connection wrestling has to the mainstream sports world, and in a way, that sports world NEEDS John Cena right now. And the best part about him is the fact that he is just entering his prime. Tim Duncan is past his. Tim Tebow many not have one.
In a word, John Cena’s time is now. But to turn him heel would be to take away something that wrestling fans and sports fans overall desperately need, and that’s an actual hero.
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Chris "IrishCanadian25" Fitzpatrick