I’ll be honest: I have been a fan of most of John Cena’s work in WWE since 2006. I was one of those guys who were ridiculed by Cena haters for trying to give the man some props for what he’s done in and contributed to the wrestling business. Despite the fact that I made more logical points than the Cena haters and didn’t type like I’d fallen asleep at the keyboard, they would assume I was just some Fruity Pebbles-eating fan.
As the years went by, though, I began to grow tired of Cena. I mean, I still thought he was a hard worker and all, but I started to agree with the Cena haters about him being humdrum. The majority of Cena haters loathe that he wins most of his matches, but the reason I started to become so frustrated with the John Cena character didn’t have to do with anything about him winning Super Cena style. It had to do with his losing. That’s right, losing.
You see, when John Cena used to lose an important match, he would scream and holler into the camera demanding his rematch. Instead of the invincible Super Cena saved the day once again scenario that’s been force-fed down our throats, in these situations you could see in his eyes, facial expressions, and his entire body language that he was shaken up and angry with himself for losing and was determined to seek his revenge. John Cena actually CARED, and when he lost it would be fun to see him chase after the person who beat him.
Nowadays, it’s not like that at all. After John Cena losses a meaningful match, the next day he doesn’t care. He will either laugh it off or make fun of his previous opponent via toilet-humor. Sometimes he won’t even allude to the fact that he lost a match – he simply moves on with his happy-go-lucky attitude.
It appears as if the WWE is trying to send a message to Cena’s main target demographic, the children, that you cannot lose your temper if you lose. Well, I don’t know if that’s true but it surely seems like that’s the message that they’re trying to get out. If it is true, it’s a worthy memorandum to pass on to young ones, but passing down that message in wrestling degrades the importance between winning and losing and makes feuds and championship belts seem twice as less significant.
Simply put: If John Cena loses a championship belt but doesn’t care, why should the fans or I care about the championship belt? If John Cena loses a match to Wade Barrett and has to join Nexus or he’s fired, but John Cena doesn’t care, why should the fans or I care? You get the point, right? And since it didn’t come across as if John Cena cared about his match with The Rock at WrestleMania that much, neither did I. That’s right, I didn’t care about what many consider to be a dream match due to the lack of seriousness shown by Cena.
That was until this week on Raw when Cena delivered a serious, straight-to-the-point promo with little comedy and zero toilet humor about how much defeating the Rock on April 1st meant to him. That promo made it finally dawn on me that we were going to see John Cena vs. The Rock at WrestleMania. And it made me say, “Holy shit, Rock vs. Cena, that’s awesome!”
A lot of people act as if booking successful wrestling shows is a job for geniuses and innovators, but it’s not. A lot of fans describe Paul Heyman as a booking virtuoso and innovator, but even he would openly tell anyone who called him a genius or an innovator misinformed. Heyman simply knew how to hide weaknesses and accentuate strengths in order to make wrestlers look better than they really were. He knew that, as a result, it would make fans care about seeing those wrestlers and their matches. Plus, most of his hardcore ideas came from Memphis and FMW and although he has never stated that he stole from those two companies, he has admitted that he got ideas off other bookers from the past. There was nothing genius about Heyman’s ideas or booking. It was basic common sense and yet it worked.
By using a bit of common sense (for a change) to rebuild the John Cena character, WWE have given fans a valid reason for the older male demographic to cheer for him. The main reason the male demographic is starting to enjoy Cena are because his character’s becoming less formulaic and more edgier, but another major component of why the male demographic are starting to like John Cena more is because his character is starting to show he cares.
As a result of Cena caring, fans (myself included) have twice as much interest in watching his match with The Rock. Furthermore, John Cena has never buried The Rock on the mic by saying something that would affect his reputation as a wrestler in a negative manner.
If Cena’s character continues to care about his important matches, similarly to the way he’s handling his upcoming Rock match, and also starts respecting a wrestler’s abilities in the ring more while doing an interview, it is extremely likely that people will look forward to his matches in the future a whole lot more.
Ultimately, if the WWE wants to encourage fans to rally behind John Cena, all the writers need to do is continue to make Cena appear as if he’s motivated, cares, and the wrestling product truly matters to him. The majority of wrestling fans know that John Cena (despite how many flaws they believe he has) is one of the hardest working wrestlers in the WWE, but still, nothing is more irritating to a fan than a wrestler that seemingly doesn’t care about anything he’s involved with. I mean it’s not not rocket science– it’s common sense.
If you don’t believe me, ask Paul Heyman (or Ric Flair?).