John Cena's Second Chance
by, 03-17-2012 at 06:42 PM (4378 Views)
While everyone is getting themselves in a hoop about things like what The Rock's REALLY back for and whether a 12 Man Tag Team match is a logical choice for Wrestlemania, alot of Cena detestors have been surprisingly quiet about this thing. I'm glad that people are showing their true colours and admitting they like the guy and not making a big stink about what is really happening.
John Cena's first match of prominence at Wrestlemania was at the 21st version of the event as he defeated the long reigning champ, but modest in the pantheon of established main eventers, John Bradshaw Layfield and won the WWE championship. It was the start of Cena main eventing and it was an exciting time. Cena had a load of momentum. But it had been at the back of the minds for a long time of the viewers that every week he was becoming more and more a marketing ploy. By the summer of 2005, the first dissenting voices appeared in conjunction to his move to Raw. A copy of McMahon-Austin with Eric Bischoff as his adversary ranked of fakeness on all sides and the first boo's crept in. Being able to headline Pay Per View's with the likes of Kurt Angle, Christian and Chris Jericho ensured that he would hold some sort of credibility. He lost the title to money in the bank winner Edge and had a short lived feud with where he got the belt back soon, and then he was being built up to face his biggest test - The Game, Triple H.
WrestleMania 22 was supposed to be the match that confirmed John Cena as the guy. Sure he went on to win the title at WrestleMania 21 but that was against JBL, who I loved having around but was not on the calibre of big hame characters over on Raw even. Wrestlemania 22 was his big defense against the biggest name in the business. Whatever about Triple H's "ways" outside of the ring, he ran with his character and made him into a gargantuan heel force in WWE. He was one of the big 3 from the attitude era. Stone Cold. Gone. Rock. Gone.
This was Cena's biggest match to date and quite arguably the most important match of his entire career so far. A heel loving crowd in Chicago booed Cena mercilessly and cheered his rival who had the reputation for getting booed out of the building. Cena beat his epic opponent in the most desirable way imaginable, by submission and people smelt bullshit. Things had not gone to plan for Vince McMahon's marketing creation, a fanbase created by the prosperous attitude era, but he could be confident that the guy he picked got a relevantly big reaction. He was now being coined as the most controversial WWE champion in history, which at the time sounded preposterous but now could definitely be accurate.
With attacks on Cena personally as a man, they can range from the vitriolic to the sympathetic for getting his personal life confused with his "superstar" image. Vince McMahon saw dollar signs as John Cena emerged from controversial heel to charismatic face and decided he was his man. Cena showed his loyalty to the company by being a company man and keeping his nerve when all looked ruined by his increasingly gimmicky appearance to suit the marketing department.
At the culmination of this Wrestlemania 22 though, everybody saw through Cena. His viability as a credible face saw his reputation in ruins with vast amounts of fans, in the ring and on the internet. He now had a large share of haters that were exposed again at One Night Stand, defending and losing his belt to Rob Van Dam in one of the most hostile nights for any performer in the wrestling business. A feud followed with Edge that Cena was able to have that first real defining rivalry with. Out of everyone that he has been on a roster with, Edge was his best rival. When that was over, a feud would begin with another legend, Shawn Michaels for Mania 23. The response was similar again, Cena was put over but once again it was at odds with what the audience wanted. John Cena was the man who just could not lose, and it was clear that we just had to get used to it.
Wrestlemania 24 was the dawning of a new era in WWE. John Cena and Randy Orton had been groomed to be the new Rock and Austin for the years after the attitude era. The big problem though was that their personalities just did not clash well. Randy Orton v John Cena was going to be groomed to be the big main event of a future WrestleMania. They decided to do it in 2008, but they had Triple H in the match. Whenever Orton and Cena went face to face before the reaction from performers and fans had been lukewarm, so it was good to have Triple H as an extra sentimental face trying to win back the title at Wrestlemania. WrestleMania 24 was the end of an era for Cena. His would be defining feud with Orton massively undersold itself that the two would never individually face each other at Wrestlemania. Cena had gone through all the big guys he could to make himself insanely popular, and it did to a point. WreslteMania 24 would also be the end of an era for everyone else. one year later, the PG era was in full order.
John Cena in 2009 was a certain cash cow for WWE. He had done movies, and most importantly he shifted merchandise. The hardcore fan with an attitude era heart long started tailing off and the one's who were still there barely gave him a reaction, completely numb by who they were told the best is repeatedly down the years. The kids loved him though, because he's a good guy who always gets the best of the bad guy at the end of the day. It's a proven formula in cartoons, and it's a proven formula in modern wrestling. In 2009 Cena's presence couldn't be faltered but his goodwill was severely tested by the audience and he wouldn't be in the final match for the second consecutive year, going up against old rival Edge with Big Show in the mix. When he hit both Edge and Big Show together with an attitude adjustment it just reinforced Cena's superman image. WWE were absolute in their endorsement of John Cena being the company poster boy but they didn't want to ruin that with a lukewarm response to him closing out the show in victory.
Same happened at Wrestlemania 26 as he faced Batista, but if it had been on any other card that didn't have the streak v retirment Undertaker v Shawn Michaels match it would have been a worthy main event. Batista had ended his Cena like stale babyface run and turned into a conceited, self centred asshole who was the perfect foil for John Cena's "good man" character. It was worthy of the main event. Though his win felt like a tragedy to some.
Batista was leaving the company, and after initially being miles ahead of Cena until the mania match he was made look like a complete chump by Cena's superman prowess. It is understandable that Cena should be made look good in favour of the guy on his way out, but the way he was superior to Batista in every way after Wrestlemania made people roll their eyes. His miraculous and compelling displays were long boring. He was on another level from every WWE superstar and had no real rivals, he dismantled an entire dominant group on his own, he did his salute, threw his cap to the audience, same ol same ol.
Last year's WrestleMania further exposed Cena's failings. In each WrestleMania performance he had been against an opponent who could say they were main event quality but now it was up to him to bear the load of a feud with the Miz, who had done well for himself in getting the WWE championsip but was far from the finished article. The overshadowing of the match by The Rock's presence owed showed that Cena was not on his level yet. The aftermath of a dull main event which included a double countout, subsequently restarted with The Miz retaining but The Rock coming out with all the glory, was immediate. There would be a match at WrestleMania 28.
It was business as usual for the majority of the last year, Cena recaptured his title and dominated any comers. CM Punk however made Cena's involvement must see over most of the last summer, allowing for exploration of Cena's character that was untouched. That was short lived as Cena would still call himself champ twice more during the year.
Since The Rock reappeared before Survivor Series however, Cena's character has been built as a credible main event opponent. To the obvious lack of respect from the crowd at Madison Square Garden that night to the following feud against Kane, which was interesting to say the least, Cena has been back to The Rock and is not backing down but is looking good going against him.
One of Rock's biggest adversaries from the Attitude Era was Triple H. Triple H and The Rock were considered as equals, one obviously being more marketable than the other, but they were eternal rivals on the exact same level. By 2006 when Cena needed an opponent to put him over, Triple H was still at that level The Rock was, so was the epic opponent for Cena to shine against. The investment in Cena's character is in agreement by all it seems, he would go over Triple H and seal himself as the face of the company. Cena went over the biggest guy on the roster there was, by some mile. But the rot had well and truly settled in. A new audience began manifesting that resisted change and Cena lost most of his fans. Luckily, there are a number of fan's who will love anyone who they're told are great, and these fans have access to other's who can be manipulated. Kids can get their parent's to buy anything if they really want it. Cena is the bees knee's in WWE so is a large part of it being a PG product. John Cena undoubtedly went over on Triple H at WrestleMania 22 and has dominated the landscape since. But he went over all wrong, things got muddied and he has to get that big win again. Vince McMahon has shrown tremendous faith in Cena, in that he has changed his whole companies outlook (The Benoit incident played a part too). Now, he needs to go over again, and what better opponent than his rival at WrestleMania 28.
After the match with The Rock Cena will be a bigger name than ever before, quite likely. In what is a main event that will surely live up to the hype, the year build up will be reflected well on Cena. He'll finally be the megastar Vince McMahon wants him to be, whether he is still getting booed or not.
Most people should be looking at this for what it really is - A second attempt to reach Cena's potential. It's funny that people will bitch forever at Cena yet forget the fact that he is being spoonfed further big names to get him truly over as the main guy, and turn on The Rock who is just back to do the job to him (likely).
Thanks for reading,