A British Point of View: Believability

Martyn Nolan

Damien SandowBob Bamber recently wrote an article defending the actions from the opening segment of RAW a couple weeks ago when Damien Sandow failed in his cash-in for the World Heavyweight Championship against John Cena.

I felt the need to spark my very often debate with Bob regarding John Cena as most of his article felt frustrating, blind to what people want to see and ultimately what is good for business.

Firstly, what sets apart any stories or characters from the rest? Believability.

If you believe something then you are invested and if you are invested then you care. The simple fact here is that nobody really believes in John Cena and thus has lost any care of the character.  Most people didn’t care about what happened at Hell in a Cell because this is the same old stale John Cena moment that we have witnessed for the past 10 years. What used to be angry fans now just realised that there is no point in arguing what you know WWE will book no matter how much you want it to change. However, the reason why people was so frustrated with Monday night is because it went well beyond the realms of believability and to do this twice in 2 nights is ridiculous.

The reason why Bob is in a minority on this one is because most fans demand more from WWE than what Bob does. Most people who are watching wrestling want to be able to get involved in the stories that are being told. Older fans will likely want this to be competition based where you can believe what is happening could actually happen if this was a ‘real’ sport. Some people want to see angles where reality is being introduced in to the storyline on the screen and others like to watch fantasy based themes where they escape from the world they live in and imagine something that is not realistic. Wrestling in the 80’s was a perfect example of wrestlers who were larger than life characters but wasn’t realistic. This was great for the time but if you watch it now then it becomes something that seems ridiculous.

I will use films as an example. James Bond in the 70’s was slapstick humour under the main character played by Roger Moore. I loved Roger Moore’s James Bond as a child growing up. The one liners, the gadgets and the over the top action sequences. Then I grew up and realised that it wasn’t believable and started to favour the original James Bond in Sean Connery as this was more edgy and realistic for the time. Many years later, James Bond was being seen as something old and out of touch by most of the audience. They needed to reboot the franchise and what did they do? They casted Daniel Craig and made Casino Royale which is now higher regarded as possibly the best James Bond film ever made. Why? Because they put gritty realism in to the character and made the film BELIEVABLE.

To bring this back to wrestling, WWE have done the same thing. They transitioned the wrestling business in to something that has more realistic characters and tried to give it direction you can believe in. They have entered a ‘reality’ era and most characters are just natural extensions of themselves. John Cena is not that extension, he is largely seen as a corporate puppet because he will never provide any issues or concerns for WWE whatsoever. John Cena’s character on TV is that largely of something from back in the 80’s. He is the Hulk Hogan type character that can do no wrong but he is the character that you cannot believe in. Listen to the crowd when he comes out, he is badly booed most nights by the crowd. Did Hulk Hogan ever get booed in the 80’s when he was ploughing through the roster? Was Austin booed in the late 90’s when he was steam rolling through the guys in the back? No. But once they’re character run its course then they changed those characters. Hogan and Austin both turned heel to try to generate a different direction and reaction. Cena hit that point 5 years ago. He has achieved far too much, run down far too many people and his character has not altered one iota. You may argue that his character is just staying true to himself but being REALISTIC then you are not telling me that those things shouldn’t bother his CHARACTER. Everyone has a breaking point and Cena has gravitated past that point on so many occasions where people just don’t care or BELIEVE it.

Now back to some of the things that Bob stated in his article:

“It took less than 24 hours after John Cena's return at Hell in a Cell for internet fans to get pissed off. I'm pretty proud; I thought it'd take at least a week. But no, Cena returned between two and four months early from a surgery, that some even have the gall to question the legitimacy of, beat Alberto Del Rio and became the World Heavyweight Champion.”

Firstly, this sounds you are looking down on most internet fans (of which I am a part of) and because they get annoyed by something that doesn’t bother you. Secondly, you mean to tell me that you didn’t even consider how legitimate Cena’s injury was when they announced his return and the thought of WWE making the injury sound worse or not accurately reporting the injury at the time didn’t cross your mind? 

“I enjoy Sandow generally every time I see him. But, last night was not Damien Sandow's night, nor should it have been.”

Why shouldn’t it have been Sandow’s night? If it shouldn’t have been his night then why did he hold the Money in the Bank briefcase? It should have been his night because no matter who got in the ring with Cena Monday night after returning from surgery, winning a title after having his arm worked on throughout, being violently attacked the next night and have another 20 minutes where someone else worked on the arm shouldn’t be able to pull out a win when the odds were so ridiculously against it.

“Cena isn't unbeatable, his match with Daniel Bryan at Summerslam proves that. But superhero's don't lose often, and they sure as hell don't lose to Damien Sandow, two arms or one. The story was a timely reminder, to those who forgot it, that John Cena never gives up. Job done.”

Who the hell forgets that John Cena Never Gives Up!? He’s been gone 8 weeks not 8 years! You’d have to be from another solar system to think that Cena might give up during a match! How on Earth would Sandow EVER be ready to beat John Cena in the future if he couldn’t do it on Monday?

“Again, it's not to say that John Cena never loses (he does, more than many top stars) but a feud with John Cena would not end well for Damien Sandow, title reign or not.”

And that is the point, you could replace Damien Sandow’s name in that sentence with anyone because if you end up in a feud with him, you’re going nowhere fast. John Cena NEVER comes out on the bad side of a feud, NEVER. That is neither believable nor entertaining in my book. I’d like to know who loses less than John Cena on television!

He may be a superhero but largely who is everyone’s favourite superhero? Predominantly it isn’t Superman because he is far too powerful but people love Batman because he is just a man who has flaws like everyone else in life. In the end he survives but he makes you believe that he might not succeed. I’m sure everyone who has watched the recent Dark Knight Trilogy will largely agree. Especially if we compare it to Man of Steel (Ahem!)

In closing Cena’s character has just stepped back in to his usual position on the card. Not one of putting anyone over, not one of even making others look good, he is just in a position where he can end pushes, damage credibility and bore the hell out of the fans for doing exactly the same thing he was doing 8 years ago. He will still sell merchandise and entertain people who like the fantasy world where a man could kick out at 2 after being hit by a train.

Damien Sandow on the other hand now has to go back to the drawing board, he may have to change his character (something that Cena hasn’t done) to try and make people forget how he wasn’t able to beat a one arm man who was largely crippled before his match. Can he do it? Hopefully. Will I BELIEVE he can beat Cena in the future? Nope. He couldn’t do it Monday so why should I BELIEVE he can do it in the future when Cena will likely be ‘100%’

With all due respect this a debate that I’m sure myself and Bob will have even on the day John Cena gets inducted in to the Hall of Fame but in the meantime if you want to follow me and Bob on Twitter you can do so @BeansOnToastUK and @BobBamber where you will likely see us having a verbal hell in a cell match!

You can also contact me on beansontoastuk@msn.com.

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