Bob Bamber last week donned his John Cena merchandise, hustled some courage and wrote a column expressing his views that John Cena MUST end Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak. Bob knew this would be controversial and has expected my retort ever since it went live here at WrestleZone.com as well as the backlash from many of the IWC.
My issue with Bob’s argument is that he used the words MUST and NEED. John Cena neither needs to nor must end the streak. I completely understand the argument he has made and that it is a direction that WWE could go in but it’s not something that John Cena NEEDS to do.
A couple of points I wanted to make about the events of this year’s challenge to the streak. Bob argued that Undertaker and Brock Lesnar have created nothing but silence as nobody is interested in this match. I agree that fans would have likely preferred to see Undertaker V Sting or John Cena at this, the most pinnacle of WrestleMania yet. However, that does not mean that this match cannot be great.
In my opinion Paul Heyman did a wonderful job of putting this match over 2 weeks ago on RAW. He clearly explained that Undertaker has struggled to defeat people like Triple H, CM Punk and Shawn Michaels and then countered that these are all people that Brock Lesnar has defeated or maimed in some way recently. This creates the logical mind-set that if Brock has destroyed all these men with such ease then he must surely do the same to The Undertaker.
As Bob said, you cannot judge a film 40 minutes in and I suspect that Undertaker won’t have much more of an advantage in this build after this week’s RAW. I fully expect a massive beat down on Undertaker next week to try to create the fantasy that Undertaker cannot win this match. Undertaker has now reached a point where he is going to be classed as the underdog and I fully expect that to be the direction on the booking of this match. How can this man possibly overcome these odds? This is simple booking, but yet again it is another area of Undertakers character which is evolving, something I will probably be arguing is lacking in a certain individual later on.
Bob then countered the argument of John Cena harming the WWE by explaining that buy rates and stock prices have never been higher. This is not something I give John Cena total credit for as I feel it is something that the company itself has managed to achieve. WWE has gone PG and with that direction it has created the opportunity for them to get better sponsorship, and in turn this has increased awareness and profits.
WrestleMania buy-rates for the past few years have likely increased due to the involvement of Dwayne Johnson attracting a much more casual fan base. WrestleMania 28 was evidence of this with 4 great attractions in Punk V Jericho, Sheamus V Bryan, HHH V Undertaker and the main event of Rock V Cena. WrestleMania 29’s buy-rate possibly dropped because this show relied on a rematch between Cena and Rock, which in all honesty everyone knew was Cena’s turn to win.
John Cena doesn’t need to end the streak to be a “Legend”. In WWE’s eyes John Cena is already at that level and probably above those others “Legends” within the company when you consider the lack of backstage issues that Cena has compared to those such as Hogan, Rock or Austin. In the same argument that Bob made when he said that if any of those legends were to face Undertaker in their peak then they would have ended the streak, the argument can also be made that they created their own legacies without having to resort to such an honour.
Bob also made the suggestion that Undertaker “retiring” the streak is like withdrawing a billion dollars which you can never use. I’m not sure that I agree with that at all. Yes, Undertaker losing the streak gives that person the single biggest honour that WWE could bestow on someone but it would have to go to someone that either needs it or truly deserves it.
The argument could be made that Cena may deserve it because of his loyalty to the WWE but as Bob said it would create a massive negative reaction, and here lies the problem.
John Cena V The Undertaker generates interest with people because everyone knows that the streak COULD end with John Cena. This is something that irritates me purely because the whole premise of the match is whether WWE are going to stick it to the fans again with another Cena victory that nobody wants to see. Rock V Cena at WrestleMania 28 drew interest because people weren’t sure if The Rock was going to lie down for him in Miami, he didn’t and people loved it. People all thought that Cena might lose and that might be start of a heel turn or at least an evolution of his character. Did the people get what they want? No they got him bury Brock Lesnar instead, which I might add, Bob might be more interested in Lesnar V Undertaker if Lesnar wasn’t forced to kill all his momentum by lying down for Cena at Extreme Rules in his first WWE match in 8 years.
When the rematch was announced between Rock and Cena for WrestleMania 29, people knew that a second victory for The Rock was never going to happen and nobody cared as a result.
The only way John Cena matches feel epic is when there is a chance that he might not be burying someone. Common sense and logic don’t apply with John Cena, only the fact that he must win at all costs and stay protected by the company.
I understand that people like Hogan and Austin steamrollered through everyone and Cena is doing the same in this era but people know what is coming and they are bored with it. That’s why they rebel against his character and WWE have booked him in the same boring way every feud and never consider changes things up. Hogan and Austin tried to change their characters when things got stale but this doesn’t happen with John Cena. This has all gone on for so long that you can build storylines on how negative he is. I’d even consider Undertaker the complete underdog if he went against John Cena at WrestleMania because if Cena ended it, it wouldn’t shock people, it would just disappoint them.
People want surprises, fun, interesting and dynamic storylines with twists and turns to get interested in. Cena personifies the opposite of this with most fans. Cena is the company man, who they must always keep at the top of the pile no matter what, and for every guy that Bob argued didn’t make it to the top; he never stops to think why they didn’t make it. How many of the people Bob mentioned were contenders for being ‘the guy’ were been given the same chance that John Cena received back in 2005? Anyone these days who come up on the radar as possibly being good enough to challenge for the top spot is quickly squashed, usually by Cena himself. Take WrestleMania 30 for instance. The way this plot is going between Bryat Wyatt and John Cena, Wyatt should take the victory at WrestleMania to give him that rub as a bad guy you should fear and Cena can ultimately take a victory back at Extreme Rules, which should include some stipulations which protects Bray from looking weak. In reality, how many of us are just expecting Cena to ‘overcome the odds’ and take the victory at WrestleMania?
Cena is so stale that when he takes about being injured the crowd cheers. He is so stale that every time he picks up a microphone he has to try to manipulate what the crowd is feeling to give a different impression to everyone watching at home. Cena is so stale that when he came out on RAW a few weeks back when Hulk Hogan was in the ring I thought he was going to start his promo with “Hi Dad!”
If Undertaker is going to lose the streak then I would rather it be to someone who deserves it, gives them the best possible match on the night and can use it going forward. This could be someone like Cesaro who would put on a fantastic match with Undertaker and if the shock result happened then he would instantly be on the same level as a Triple H, Brock Lesnar and John Cena.
Some people will shoot that down because you can’t invest all that in to a young talent that might not work in your favour in the long run but it didn’t stop them doing it with John Cena in 2005 and forcing countless victories down our throats for the past decade.
At the end of the day you cannot predict what is in the future and who you can rely on. If you want to give it to someone then you give it to someone who you think ticks all the boxes and take a calculated risk. Someone who has good looks, is athletic, good on the microphone and over with the fans. Cesaro, in my opinion ticks all of the boxes apart from his mic skills. This is something that he can develop over time and I would rather see Cesaro cut average promo’s for the next 3 months in an attempt to build confidence than listen to 3 months of Cena coming out to boo’s after defeating yet another person and start with “Boy, it’s a rowdy crowd tonight!!” and “we haven’t always seen eye-to-eye” or “I have always given you everything I got” when in reality, the crowd is verging on hating him, fans haven’t seen eye-to-eye with him for 8 years and he hasn’t given us everything he has because his ring work seems to have declined instead of improved.
If Undertaker were to retire the streak then I also don’t have a problem with this as it is something that will always be a staple of WrestleMania. Let’s compare this to Trish Stratus (Stop laughing); Trish started her career with poor mic skills and very average mat skills. Over time she worked hard and won the fans over and improved dramatically with hard work. On her final match she won the Women’s Championship on and gave up the championship. Does anyone think she should have lost her final match to give the rub to someone else? Possibly, but nobody called her for having that moment with the championship where she was the best in this industry.
Why can’t Undertaker have that moment? Why can’t we have a build up to his last WrestleMania knowing that this will be his last? Why can’t he fight to retire the streak instead of it being broken? What if he won the match, posed in the ring, the lights go out, they come back on slowly all that remained in the ring was his hat and the urn. It would be a highly emotional moment to close WrestleMania and one fitting of his character and of the late great Paul Bearer. Or we could have John Cena win and Undertaker shakes his hand. The show closes as they stand on the ramp holding each other’s hands high (because that went down well with The Rock didn’t it?)
Either way WWE have many options and with the choice of Brock Lesnar this year, I think the streak still has a few notches to make before these kinds of decisions are made.
I’m sure this will spark another lengthy debate on Twitter with Bob and the rest of you so don’t forget to give me a follow on @BeansOnToastUK or you can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.