It’s been quite a while since I’ve really been interested in a wrestling angle. Actually it’s been a few years since I’ve taken an interest in wrestling at all. I had high hopes that Vince McMahon would let the ECW brand develop itself, but somehow he just can’t suppress the urge to mix the talent up in each show, causing neither of the three brands (Raw, Smackdown and ECW) to have any real identity.) For me, the real turning point was the poor way that the acquiring of WCW was handled. Of course it’s easy to play ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ now, but even back then I saw the potential – we could have had two completely independently run organizations – each competing with the other. And then in March, we’d have the real holy grail – a Wrestlemania where champions from each organization would square off against each other. It would be some event.
But, of course, this is all just a vision of what could have been.
As bad as the product is now (and I can only speak for WWE – I don’t watch TNA), there is one angle that still interests me. John Cena has always been an enigma to me. He’s a good looking guy who still looks a bit stiff and strange when I watch him. I respect his ability, but his style just doesn’t do it for me. And I’m speaking specifically of his ring style, but that’s not what has me interested. When Cena moved up from the WWE’s training leagues to wrestle on Smackdown, he quickly became popular. But the time he got to Raw, he was a big time favorite. He always got a pop from the crowd when he showed up. However, fans aren’t quite the same as they once were. They’re fickle. An image that is too squeaky clean will draw heat. For a champion, Cena has, over time, acquired the most heel heat of any top tier champion that I’ve ever seen. And that’s not surprising considering the fact that WWE hasn’t really pushed a champion who hasn’t had some sort of in-between-a-face-and-a-heel status like John Cena. Think about it: HHH – once a heel, The Rock – Once a heel, Austin – big time heel at one time, Randy Orton, Bradshaw, Edge….the list goes on. Not since Bret Hart has a guy come on the scene and and tried to be such a straight edge. And as for his marketability, it’s working. But is this being done at the risk of damaging his character’s long-term viability as a draw with older fans? I’ve never heard a champion who was in an angle as the face get as much heat as Cena. Never. It has to be embarrassing at this point.
It’s been a long time coming, but I have a sneaky suspicion that this may be the time that the WWE finally bites the bullet. While they are in need of more babyfaces, Cena’s injury and subsequent absence could provide the perfect opportunity to make his return memorable. He’s been hyped up during every Raw for the past 4 weeks or so. They’re showing his baby pictures and having vignettes with his family – it’s just getting sickening. But it smells like a swerve. I’d love to see how a heel Cena would try to get true heat with the fans – when he’s actually trying to get heat. I don’t know that he can be that obnoxious. He has to do something drastic. Like take a dump on the marine hat he wears. Or change his entrance from including a Marine salute to the one fingered salute. It would be interesting to see. This would tell us whether this guy really has any character. This is something I’m really looking forward to seeing.
Looking ahead to this weekend, I certainly won’t be watching the Pay Per View. I haven’t ordered a WWE event since Wrestlemania about 4 years ago. But I will anxiously be refreshing the results pages on wrestling sites to see how they handle this situation. The business is already on the rocks financially with the rest of the market. And it doesn’t appear to be getting any better – why would you spend $30-50 on a ticket or $30 on a Pay per view when your finances are bad? The WWE always plays it safe. They have to. They owe it to their stockholders. However, if they really want to draw the interest of fans and cause people like me who have turned away to suddenly get interested again, then there’s only one thing left to do.