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 411mania » Wrestling » Columns

411's Countdown to WrestleMania 29: 10 Reasons For a Cena Heel Turn at WrestleMania
Posted by James Wright on 04.03.2013

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John Cena's statements in the Legend's Panel he appeared in with the Rock on Raw have led to many questioning whether the 'champ' will be turning heel in his match at Wrestlemania. He kissed his dog-tags goodbye, threw up a 'You can't see me' and then took what must have been an infuriating Rock Bottom while most of the crowd booed him and cheered the Rock. With any other man this might be a foregone conclusion, but the Cena heel turn has been threatened so many times that I feel there needs to be a debate on the subject as to why now is the right time to finally turn the man who has been the face of WWE 'PG' for so long. Being concerned with all things heel I have a vested interest in the subject and my arguments are as follows:

Reason No. 10 - New Merchandise

Lord knows the WWE loves to hawk Cena's cheap crap, with a new colour shirt every other month Cena's merchandise has been bleeding parents dry for the better part of a decade and you'd better believe that they are getting sick of it. If he were to turn heel now then he would be appealing more to an older audience, who would probably more than make up for the money of the kid's parents lost in the turn since we 18-35 males just love to boo the faces and cheer the heels. What's more he has now pretty much run through every possible colour of shirt to sell, the latest one being yellow, so really Cena himself needs to find a new style of attire to get fans interested in buying his stuff. Add to that he hasn't changed his appearance of jorts, cap, dog tags and t-shirt for a decade and you can see that the WWE is missing out on all the new alarm clocks, garden gnomes and plush bears that could be brought out with whatever gear Cena decided to don as a heel. Fact was that Cena was popular as a heel before he turned and he hadn't even won a singles title yet, now with his solidified main event level you'd better believe that he could get a different demographic to reach for their wallets once he starts turning on the heel charm, and if the bottom line is money then that is what the WWE should ultimately want.

Reason No. 9 - Sheer Amount of Time as a Face

As I stated in the teaser it has been nine years since Cena turned face and that is a damn long time to be a face in professional wrestling, only a select few characters work as a consummate face and in my opinion John Cena is not one of them. He is a man who relished getting up in people's faces and telling them what he thought when he first started out and since becoming a face he has turned sarcastic and bitter towards his opponents, mocking them with passive aggressive remarks and lame jokes, rather than calling it straight and downright insulting them like any respectable person would do. This is where Randy Orton shows himself to be at least somewhat of a realist, he tried the face thing, his momentum was tailing off and he was switched to a face to get him out of Legacy, and while he gets a decent enough pop it is clear that his and the fan's hearts aren't in it, at least not enough to justify his continued character path, and so he wants another heel turn, which is not so unreasonable after three years. Cena on the other hand has stayed the course, even when he arguably shouldn't have, we are not in the territory days, the Attitude Era has been and gone, your average wrestling fan just isn't used to seeing a guy in the same role year in and year out, there is too much saturation. How many times each week can Cena say 'You can't see me' and hit the AA on an opponent to send the crowd home happy before the novelty wears off, for both the performer and the crowd.

Reason No. 8 - Time for a New Superhero

Not only has it been so long since Cena turned face but it has been about eight years since Cena became the face of the company, the lead superhero, not allowing anyone to step up and take his place. Cena has only ever been injured for any length of time once and in that time HHH stepped in to take his place, so no new top face got the chance to lead the company while 'Super-Cena' was away. Now you could argue that there was and is no one suitable for the role, but I would say that if you don't try then you will never find out. Give Cena a year as a heel and see who steps up in his place. Right now there are two main candidates; Ryback and Sheamus. Ryback was actually close to something great last year at Hell in a Cell, Cena was briefly injured and Ryback got a one-on-one shot at the champ C.M. Punk in the main event, had Ryback won that match then who knows where he would be now, perhaps wrestling the Undertaker or Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania, instead he is taking on Mark Henry, no bad position to be in, but a match with nowhere near the amount of exposure that the big four will have. Sheamus is another guy who is so close he can taste it, while he may sound a bit ludicrous sometimes with his tall Irish tales but he has a good sense of when to be jovial and when to get serious and he has a marketable look that kids already seem to love. With Cena out of the way Sheamus might finally be able to take centre stage as the top face in the company, possibly even by going against Cena for the title, a whole legion of child followers betrayed by their former hero Cena, now cheering on the Celtic Warrior and paying hand over fist to see both men duke it out for the title.

Reason No. 7 - Kids Grow Up

Along with the legion of younger fans who still think Cena is god there is a huge amount of former child fans who are now all grown up and would love to see their former hero in a role they can take seriously once again. Just because you reach your teens does not necessarily mean that you instantly stop cheering the faces and booing the heels, but it does mean that you are less easily fooled, and find it harder to buy into things that don't make much sense. Case in point; Cena's claims that his loss to the Rock sent him into a downwards spiral, despite still being involved in the majority of main events this past year. A younger child might see that Cena lost a bunch of these events and buy into this being a bad year for their hero who should never lose. But once you get past these younger years as a fan you have to start to realise the reality behind wrestling, that winning and losing are never as important as your position on the card, a wrestler who main events a PPV is not having a bad year, win or lose, especially when that match is for the WWE title. Some wrestlers sacrifice their whole lives just for one failed shot at the gold and in his 'worst year' and despite an injury, Cena was handed several, this is the type of bullshit that will turn off Cena's older fans as they realise that their hero is not all he seems. However a heel turn at this juncture could lead to adding a dose of reality to his character, where he can be more honest about the reasons why he is the one in the main events and not anyone else, hopefully helping to bring back these jaded grown up fans back to the Cena fold.

Reason No. 6 - Freshen Up Cena's Character

This is pretty much the most important argument that has been cited over the years for why a Cena heel turn should take place, and while it is not essential to why now is the time for this heel turn it will remain a key element to why the fan divide persists in every arena that Cena visits. His character becoming stale was a concern that was raised a long time ago and pretty much everyone at some point has voiced the opinion that Cena could benefit from a heel turn, whether it be him returning to his old gimmick of straight talking punk, or some new incarnation, people have been sick and tired of fake marine Cena for a good long while and they are not afraid to show it. Personally I think that a heel turn would be just as therapeutic for the man himself as it would be for the fans, he could stop taking the constant hatred on the chin and repeating the same tired old rhetoric, he could actually express his anger and distaste over some of the events that occur in his life. He was close to doing so in the Legends Panel, but his face persona held him back. No man deserves to have more beef than John Cena over some of the moments that have been marred for him by his continued face character. As the top face he should get to feel the thrill of having a whole arena cheer as you triumph over the dastardly heel, but instead he consistently hears at least an audible amount of boos, even as the returning hometown hero, where pretty much everyone gets cheered, heel or face, Cena still has to deal with all the haters, and what's more he has to do so with a big shit-eating grin on his face.

A heel turn for Cena at this juncture could not only reverse these polarities so that when he is booed it is a sign he is doing his job and when he gets cheered it is a sign that he is popular despite this, it could also give us a disgruntled heel to rival that of C.M. Punk. Imagine if the night after Wrestlemania Cena comes out and delivers a promo in complete opposition to last year, he shoots on the fans and the Rock, proclaiming himself to be the best and most deserving man with the title around his waist (having cheated to get the belt in some way obviously) and then just lays into the audience, accusing them of robbing him of every achievement and hounding him for so many years just because he was trying to entertain, if done right this could get a massive reaction from the crowd and solidify Cena as the top heel in the company for some time to come. What's more it seems likely that Punk will be taking some time off after Wrestlemania so Cena will get the much needed space to develop his character without having to compete with the man who is arguably the best heel in the company right now. Also over time us smarks would most likely start to cheer the man as most of us once did, to which Cena can justifiably rip into us about being ridiculously fickle, only cheering him as a heel because it is so cold, hypocritically forgetting that the lack of support was due to his staleness for the most part and now his character is actually fresh, but this could only lead to more boos, which would now be a good thing for his character, so the more the merrier.

Reason No. 5 - Old Rivalries

Another point on Cena being a face for so long is that most of his rivals are in a different position from where they were. A returning Punk could come back as a face and add another chapter to their historic rivalry, taking things to a whole new level where the roles are reversed. Then there is the Miz, a man who is struggling to find his feet in his new role as a face, what better way to help then to put him up against the man who helped him develop in his career up to this point; John Cena. The Miz is perhaps the one guy who Cena truly has helped to get over and they could have a really nice personal rivalry where the heel Cena drudges up the Miz's past and the Miz is determined to show him how once again he has risen to a new level, and knowing the Miz he just might succeed. Would this lead to a second Miz title reign? Perhaps for a little while, but in my mind a heel Cena is a champion Cena, so this could lead to a nice little interplay between the two and the Rock around Survivor Series where the Rock helps the title change hands and Cena gets it back by nefarious means. I have already mentioned how feuding with Cena could take Sheamus to the next level and it would also be an interesting new chapter in their rivalry, which began over the WWE title a few years ago. What's more if Del Rio somehow manages to keep his title after Wrestlemania then he could like the Miz be helped by the newly heel-turned Cena by cementing his face credibility in a series of Champion vs. Champion matches with him in the first few months of the wrestling year. Then there is Jericho, who is most likely disappearing again after Wrestlemania but will no doubt be back and could run a great program with a heel John Cena, once again getting screwed out of a world title victory, only this time the proper way, on screen and through heel antics, rather than simply being fed to the youngest lion, chewed up and spit out unceremoniously.

Reason No. 4 - New Challengers

Apart from adding new chapters to old rivalries, which up until now have mostly only had one side, a heel Cena could also open himself up to a whole new host of up and coming faces, potentially without massively burying them like he would with any new heel that was put in against him. The most appealing prospect to me is The Ryback, he nearly took Cena's spot when he was injured before and perhaps this year he could truly cement his place as a top company face by going up against the man head to head. Both are known for their feats of strength and both have similar finishing manoeuvres, they could easily have a rivalry built on Ryback chasing the title and Cena mocking him for being everything he was for nine long years, only without the championship gold to back it up, in doing so this would hopefully lead to Ryback 'winning the big one' perhaps at Summerslam, and giving him the belt for a couple of months before that dastardly Cena found a way to win it back again. Make no bones about it, face or heel Cena will be in the title picture all next year and will most likely hold the belt for the majority of that time, I personally would rather see him do this as a heel rather than a face.
Out of left field there is the possibility for a Ryder-Cena feud that could be deeply personal and help bring Ryder back from the brink of obscurity once again, even if it were to be in the style of the first Miz-Cena feud it would still be way better treatment than the guy has been getting up until now.

Later in the year there is the possibility of a Langston-Cena feud, which would be damned interesting and could turn Big E. into the next breakout star if handled correctly. The only real question in a feud like this is if Cena would be comfortable with passing the torch to another guy and if his actions with Ryback last year are any indication then the answer is yes. Hell they could even do some weird play on TNA where once a year the NXT title becomes a passport to challenge for the WWE title and transition Big E from one title to another, which would be a real show of dominance.

The last existing face choice to feud with John Cena is the Dazzler, Daniel Bryan. Bryan never really got to feud with Cena as he was more involved with Johnny Ace when Bryan was a heel, and what's more the two have some kayfabe history in Cena being the man who brought Bryan back to the WWE for their match with the Nexus at Summerslam. These two could have a feud to rival that of Cena-Punk, this time with Cena purposefully trolling the audience with his 'five moves of doom', taking it to the former indy darling and mocking his size and shape and generally spewing out Kevin Nash style views that would get him a hell of a lot of heat from us smarks and help ensure that he is not cheered simply for being a heel.

Reason No. 3 - Set up for Wrestlemania XXX

At this point there are two major possibilities for this next Wrestlemania; Cena-Rock III and Cena vs. The Undertaker. A heel turn for Cena this year would help to build up to either of these matches. While the build hasn't been all that long for it I am glad that the Taker match this year has returned to classic heel vs. face, because frankly the amount of respected legend vs. respected legend stuff has been too much, and if Cena was going to go up against Taker for Wrestlemania as he currently is we would pretty much get more of the same. What's more it would be pretty much the same stuff as we have heard with the Rock and Cena over these past two years as well: 'I respect you but I have to beat you' over and over again. A heel Cena would make the match fresh, and whereas Punk and everyone else before him after Wrestlemania XX have had to give us a reason why they should be able to beat the Undertaker's streak at Wrestlemania to add intrigue, I honestly believe that in a Cena-Taker match at Wrestlemania XXX it would be more pressing to present a case where Cena won't defeat the Phenom. If Taker beats Punk this year and takes the streak to 21-0 then since the guy is on his last legs he has to look to go out swinging at Wrestlemania XXX, the Cena we have now would seem like the obvious choice to end the streak, he is the company's golden boy and has always been able to rise above whatever challenge he is presented with. A heel Cena on the other hand, bitter and ruthless, is a much more compelling character, partially in the fact that we think he could lose a match, after all a heel shouldn't be allowed to beat a face like the Undertaker at Wrestlemania, which coincidently is why I have so much doubt that Punk will win this year and why such a win would create such a stir if it did indeed end up going ahead, bottom line it would guaranteed make Punk a hall of famer.

On the other side of things we have Cena-Rock III, which many now are arguing with hindsight was an obvious move for the company. While this is true it seems a little naïve to believe that the WWE could present this match to us in a fresh way next year so that it tops the two previous encounters without changing up the dynamic with a John Cena face turn. If Cena somehow cheats to take the title away from the Rock then it will make things so much more personal for next year's encounter. Now the WWE will have the problem either way of why the hell wouldn't the Rock challenge for the title straight away after Wrestlemania, and the answer would come a lot easier if Cena ended the night of Wrestlemania XXIX with a brutal attack on the Rock that sent him packing for the better part of a year, this just can't happen if Cena remains a face in the match, maybe Lesnar or the Shield could do the same thing, but then the match at Wrestlemania XXX would be nowhere near as personal. A heel Cena now helps the WWE not only set up for the match next year, but it will make the exchanges in the build fresh and really beg the question as to which man will win the third encounter as who could see a former star decisively beating the current one, but then who could see the heel decisively beating the face in their third encounter? Both outcomes are possible and both would lead to speculation and intrigue, most likely this third encounter would end with Cena turning face again ala Hogan at Wrestlemania 18 and we would have a rejuvenated face of the company back again, having given other stars a year to try to establish themselves as top faces and merchandise movers and given Cena a much needed character change and chance to reengage with a different demographic.

Reason No. 2 - More Compelling Story

Now for the big two, ranked as such in terms of personal preference rather than use to the company. To me this Cena redemption story is a terrible one. First of all we have the fact that Cena doesn't really have all that much to redeem, he had a year where he failed to win some big matches after a career of winning multiple big matches for multiple titles, it wasn't that bad. If the WWE sticks with this story and goes through with it, it will be yet another example of predictable booking that leads to a stale title picture and a Cena that has not changed one bit in all this time of bitching about being in some downwards spiral. If Cena wins by turning heel at Mania however, the WWE can get the same result of having Cena with the belt, but do so in a way that many fans didn't see coming, in a way that won't proclaim 'business as usual' in a time when business is in quite a lull, but instead show that the company finally had the balls to do something daring, Cena included. He could turn to the fans and declare that redemption would be nice, but winning at any cost is better. He would be channelling the Steve Austin of Wrestlemania 17 against the Rock, where walking away with the belt meant more than anything else, it wasn't worth simply gritting his teeth and baring it no matter what the result, he needed that belt that Rock had so unceremoniously declared to be cheap and tacky. Cena made his legacy on the Spinner belt, and what better way to stick it to the Rock than to continue his legacy by taking this new belt that he proclaims is better than the belt that Cena inspired, these are the type of things a current face Cena could never say while trying to be gracious and humble in victory.

Another point is that the redemption story has been played out, better is the story of the man who tried for redemption and then realised that it wasn't possible, so he would settle for revenge instead. It adds so much depth to Cena's character and could easily be traced back to that Rock Bottom at the end of the Legend's Panel where Cena got up in Rock's face and ended up flat on his back because of it. He realised that staring down the Rock face to face wasn't going to cut it and he had to stick a knife in his back instead, because how could he face himself if he tried for a second time and once again couldn't get the job done. A Cena heel turn on the grandest stage is the way to go and it would create the biggest impact that could set up for Cena's match next year and would change his character forever, for the better, even if the turn only lasted until Wrestlemania XXX.

Reason No. 1...

Stop the Lies!!!

From when Cena first won the WWE title it could be heard, the rippling of decent in the WWE Universe, something was not right and more and more people felt it and started to express their views. People began to boo Cena at every arena he went to, despite being booked as the underdog face who was taking the best from the best and giving it back in kind. These boos would follow Cena wherever he went and they still do today, but something else follows him as well, and that is the mind-numbingly annoying apologist-style mewling of the WWE commentators, most always coming from Michal Cole and Jerry the King Lawler. The constant instance that Cena's reaction is 'mixed' even if 90% of the arena is booing every move he makes and every breath he takes. Saying that the fans are 'lively' when he opens his mouth and before he can speak he is met with a chorus of disapproval. If you think it is bad now it was even worse in the beginning, where the commentators legitimately just ignored the boos and claimed that the fans loved Cena, an example of the WWE stubbornly trying to push a character down our throats and thus getting even more of a negative response from those fans who were over the age of eight and actually cared about more than a wrestler's looks as to whether or not we supported him.

Soon things became so noticeable that the WWE had to come up with the genius line of 'love him or hate him Cena provokes a reaction' blissfully forgetting that as the company's top face that reaction should be the most positive of any wrestler in the company, not simply the loudest due to fans competing over their blind obedience or justified hatred (yes I am that bias, if things were a little more split where it wasn't mostly impressionable kids who will cheer for anyone they are told to who are actively on Cena's side, and maybe if every win he has ever been given hadn't been handed to him, then maybe his popularity would mean more). A mixed reaction as a heel means that half the crowd are buying into your character and half respect your general body of work too much to do anything but cheer you, either that or they actually agree with the bullshit rhetoric you are spewing, which is disturbing when in the case of those like Jack Swagger, who is starting to get 'USA!' chants when he should be getting booed. Only very rarely is the fact that half the crowd can't stand Cena acknowledged and like his sarcastic smiles in his promos it simply cheapens everything and needs to stop. A heel turn for Cena at this time would finally get these bastards to stop lying and start not only acknowledging the persistent booing, but positively encourage it, this most annoying part of any broadcast that Cena appears would finally be gone and we could all enjoy the WWE's programming a little more.

These are my reasons for why there should be a John Cena heel turn at Wrestlemania; money, success, rivalries, story, and general product enjoyment. If you disagree then leave your thoughts in the comment box below, for now though this is James Wright signing off.


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