Badseed's Bottomline #353: Why Cena Isn't Over
Hey yo! Watching wrestling this week, I saw something I had been waiting for; John Cena grabbed the mic and started rapping again. It was great. I enjoyed every line and wanted more. It even seemed like some fans were into it, but still, John Cena just could not get over with the crowd. I just shook my head, because I really like Cena as a wrestler and it sucks to see fans booing him and cheering for a guy who bad mouthed the troops and has gone overboard to be a heel. What can be done to get Cena over again? Well, the answer probably lies in why he was over in the first place.
Back when John Cena first came to the WWE, he confronted Kurt Angle and claimed he had ruthless aggression. He came out of nowhere and the fans seemed to like his tenacity. The fact that Undertaker backed John Cena as a credible threat only helped Cena as he tried to make a rise to the top. A win over Chris Jericho was the next step, but Cena was lacking something and suddenly was not worth watching. They started a heel turn and in a Halloween episode, dressed as Vanilla Ice, Cena performed a rap that caught peopleís attention and led to a new gimmick; The Dr. of Thuganomics.
At first, the angle faltered, because Cena was portrayed as an Eminem-wannabe who was losing to Rikishi and had a horrible sidekick in the form of B-Squared. A feud with Eddie Guerrero started to bring Cena into the limelight and the appearance of The Notorious DOG made for what I thought would be an exciting Hip Hop Family. B-Squared was kicked out of the group and then released by the company. DOG became Rodney Mack on Raw and Cena had to go it alone. And thatís when Cena did it best.
John Cenaís Dr. of Thuganomics tag-line was hot. His throwback chain, which he used as a weapon was a great gimmick. The use of the rival teamís throwback jersey gave him instant heat. The raps before his matches where he made fun of everyone and would leave the last word as a curse for the fans to eat up, gave him an almost rebel feel; the kind Stone Cold Steve Austin once had. Cena came out at Wrestlemania and tore apart Fabolous and Jay-Z in a freestyle rap that must have pissed off those mainstream rappers who balked at appearing with him for a battle rap.
Cena was coming into his own and then he fought Brock Lesnar. When Cena was injured by Lesnar and started making his comeback, the vignettes he shot, containing serious raps as he sought revenge, got the fans behind him. Lesnar had just won back the title. The fans made Lesnar a fan favorite. They cheered him over The Rock, but suddenly, the fans started getting into Cenaís gimmick and during their main event battle with one another, there were a number of Cena chants. The fans wanted him to be a face, but it wasnít going to happen just yet. Cena had great encounters on the mic with Kurt Angle. He had a great angle with the Undertaker playing off their past relationship. The vignettes he shot attacking Undertaker with a rap in the graveyard were awesome. They made Cena a main event level player. You wanted to see Cena succeed and he did.
Cena was going face. The fans wanted it and the WWE gave them what they wanted. When Angle needed a partner to fight Brock Lesnarís team, he chose Cena, the man who turned Lesnar down the week before, making him an instant favorite. He and Benoit won the elimination match and became immediate top level faces, as Angle was making his way toward another heel turn and only Eddie Guerrero was above them. Cena suddenly was working with Benoit against Paul Heyman, but his gimmick was still the same. He was still badass. Nothing changed. Then he won the U.S. title from The Big Show.
After that, things sort of went down the drain for Cena. Cena was on the path to the World title and was becoming so popular, merchandise followed. As Pro Wrestling Insider stated in their look at the treatment of Raw superstars, Cena became a corporate puppet, shilling his merchandise to the fans and no longer being cool; no longer being the rebel. He came out with the spinning U.S. title that was cool at first, but became another gimmick to sell merchandise. His treatment of the world title disrespected the lineage. It is the same reason why Austinís snake belt didnít last. It was nice to look at, but when it comes down to it, the world title is not a toy; it is a championship held by legends; not gimmicks. Cena became a gimmick. His raps were watered down and childish. His move to Raw didnít really change that. In fact, on Raw he barely ever rapped, which seemed so strange. His music sucks and seemed more suited for Rey Mysterio or Chavo Guerrero with the Latin flavor. The underground independent sound was missing from the theme; the kind of thing that made him real to the fans. Cena was not a wrestling fan who made it as a champion. He was now a superstar and that connection to the fans has been lost.
One of the problems that the WWE is having is making Cena a long-time champion. The more he holds the belt, the more he is no longer the scrappy wrestler scraping his way to the top. Face champions cannot last that long and remain fan favorites unless they are Hulk Hogan or Batista. When Hogan was champion, they signed on the largest wrestlers to face him. Hogan fought King Kong Bundy, Killer Khan, Kamala, Andre, Big John Studd and the Undertaker. Fans would look at Hogan and go, wow, he is big and he looks overmatched here. Whoa!! This match is going to mean something and Hogan needs my cheers. Hogan would then fight former friends like Paul Orndorff, Randy Savage and Andre and fans would be like, wow, the emotion in this match is off the chart; I mean, his friend stabbed him in the back. I need to cheer Hogan.
Look at Batista. His friend was trying to keep him from the title and Batista had to leave the group behind to get out of their shadows. HHH has established himself as Batistaís superior so fans still needed to stay behind Batista. Fans knew HHH often won the belt back and they didnít want to see that. They wanted Batista. Batista leaves for Smackdown and every fan hates JBL and wanted to see him get a beating. Eddie Guerrero was the dastardly heel with Rey Mysterio and was trying to dupe Batista who did not play the fool like others before him, so fans liked the realism. Now, they bring the huge monster that is Mark Henry in to fight Batista and they did a good job of making him look like a credible threat, despite the fans not liking him or believing a title change was possible. Randy Orton is a serious threat, because he is a former partner of Batistaís. We have Lashley in the background. Who knows if Brock Lesnar will ever show up? We always have The Undertaker. When larger than life wrestlers battle it out and when there is real emotion behind the battles, fans can get behind the face. Cena doesnít have that.
Cena won the belt from JBL. Fans were all behind that, but then he went to Raw and has yet to have a serious feud. He fought with Jericho, but there was nothing really behind it. In fact, they never even discussed that Jericho was Cenaís first WWE win. Then Angle attacked him out of nowhere in some cheap feud with Eric Bischoff. Again, Cenaís history with Angle was not played up to bring any real heat behind the feud. There was no reason to cheer Cena. Cena has no ties with anyone. Cena has no drama in his matches. Right now, fans look through this and see that he is just holding on to the belt and is being forced on us. We donít like that. The only guy Cena may be able to face as a good guy and still be cheered completely by the fans, is Edge.
The best thing to do is to turn Cena heel. As a heel, Cenaís championship reign could last longer and it would make sense. As a heel, Cena could cheat, using the chain once more. As a heel, Cena could have Three Minute Warning be his backup. As a heel, Cena could use a line like Dr. of Thuganomics and get under peopleís skin with it. As a heel, he couldnít rely on merchandise and would go back to being the way he was, but because the fans like the bad guy, they would buy his stuff anyways. Cena has lost his street cred. He needs to get it back. He needs to become hard again and not follow the rules. You want to be hip hop in the WWE you canít be happy and fun. Get down and dirty. Get the job done. It is time for Cena to leave the fans behind. Go back to your roots.
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