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Jamie Greatone Jamison

Point/Counterpoint - Cena vs. Johnny Ace

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Point: Cena should have won the match


There is a certain bit of satisfaction to seeing a bad guy get his comeuppance. We all enjoy seeing right rule the day and order to be restored. Cena winning would have provided that moment to us. He should have rid the WWE Universe of Johnny Ace.

He was facing someone who had no business competing in the ring with him. Even given the Big Show's involvement, Cena has beaten him several times before on his own. Cena should have been "smart" enough not to trust the Big Show given his history of flip-flopping. From a storyline standpoint, the ultimate conclusion has to be Johnny getting what he deserves right?


CounterPoint: The booking of Cena vs. Ace was well done

Going into this match, the odds were overwhelmingly stocked in John Cena's favor, which should have pointed to a Johnny Ace victory. Stripped of all abilities to cheat his way out of a win, Johnny Ace was left to show up and take his whuppin' at the hands of the defender of all that is good and holy: Jonathan Cena.

The match itself was booked how it should have been, with Cena dominating and Johnny take a beating like a gubmn't mule. Anyone expecting a different match with any level of workrate should be checked for mental issues. Johnny Ace hasn't regularly wrestled in more than a decade and Cena would have only brought the 5 moves of doom anyway. So I rather enjoyed, from a storyline perspective, John Cena beating Ace senseless. As fans with suspended disbelief this is what we should have wanted. No one entering that match with that perspective would have expected any other outcome.

The finish is a classic wrestling storyline twist: the belittled giant shows up to apparently exact revenge against his tormentor, but for unknown nefarious means sides with him. This is a hallmark of storyline telling. As many have pointed out, it was cliche and was completely telegraphed. That doesn't make it bad though. Instead, I suspect Big Show will reveal that he turned heel to get his job back, to perform for the fans that he so loves. His back was against the wall and he truly had no choice.

From a storyline standpoint, the booking makes sense. Cena the erstwhile face delayed too long and Johnny Ace was able to capitalize through heelish interference. This is the story that has always been told in wrestling always will.

A Business Perspective
On one hand you have heel in the making, Johnny Ace who WWE has spent a good deal of screen time developing over the past year. He clearly is the "figurehead" who prods the action along in the storylines. On the other hand, you have John Cena who is supposed to be someone who stands for ethical behavior and what is right.

So the booking of this match is in conflict from the beginning. To give fans what they want, a proper Ace beating, Cena has to depart from his supposed personal ethics of doing the right thing. Cena needed to incapacitate Johnny Ace enough to win. That was his objective. Instead, he showboated, gloated, and played with him much like a cat would a mouse. This is a heelish tactic and does not fit with Cena's anti-bullying, positive message. An idyllic Cena enters the ring, hits the Attitude Adjustment, pins 1-2-3 and we're out. But PPV cannot end at 10:30pm.

The booking to have Ace win is predictable, but is more indicative of lazy writing on the WWE's part than proper booking. Its much easier to write a story when you have your antagonist in charge and providing the impetus for your protagonist to act. To explain, everyone has always loved the underdog good guy story and this just yet another iteration of that. Without Ace in charge, the writing staff is left to come up with original ideas to drive the conflicts that play out in the ring and on the screen. With Ace, you have a heel authority figure doing what they do best, screwing everyone over.

So what choice was WWE left with: throw away a year of character development by writing Johnny Ace out of the show and paint themselves into a corner where original writing would then be required? Anyone surprised by their choice hasn't been watching wrestling for very long.

The side issue is what to do with Cena? He failed to achieve his directive, but that will be explained away with a program involving the newly returning Big Show. What will be lost in this is anything being done about Ace from a storyline perspective - allowing a heel to dominate the decision making landscape within the context of the story. Unfortunately, Cena will not storyline wise cop up to his failure, his arrogance, or his bullying an obviously disadvantaged opponent. This is shame because a Cena engaged in self-doubt over his actions vis-a-vis his character of ethical superhero would make for engaging television (and not in the Kane trying to get Cena to "embrace the evil" part Deux).

Conclusion:

Seeing the "bad" guy get a beating was enjoyable. Seeing him escape though will only fuel our passion to see Johnny Ace get his ultimate due. The match wasn't perfect, the booking was counterintuitive to character development, but WWE painted themselves into a corner anyway. The hope is that they do not abandon the storyline and otherwise leave Johnny Ace to his own devices.

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