Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Cena turning heel - Don't Do It!

With the commemoration of 18 years since Hulk Hogan turned heel and formed the NWO being recognized around the web, there has bee some Twitter chatter about whether the guy who has been the face of the WWE for the last nine years, John Cena, should go the same route.  For those who weren't around back in 1996, Hogan turning heel and joining Scott Hall and Kevin Nash to form the NWO was the biggest, most shocking heel turn in the history of the wrestling business.  No one called it, no self proclaimed experts saw it coming, and the reaction of the crowd in the building when it went down is something that may never be captured again.  The nasty habit of fans throwing trash in the ring, something that would go on to become a cliche but was unheard of at the time, started that night and it was completely organic and heartfelt.  Fans actually felt betrayed by the man they'd supported for all those years.  And when Hogan got on the mic and them all to stick it, they took it personally.  That moment did more to revitalize pro wrestling than any other.  Without that and what followed in the WCW vs. NWO angle, there would have been no Attitude Era.  The Hogan turn also brought mainstream media attention back to the business in a way that nothing else could have.  The longtime hero of the wrestling business donning the black hat was the kind of newsworthy event that the business had been missing for some time.  It also breathed some new life into a character that was beginning to look more than a little bit state after almost 20 years as the biggest name in wrestling. 

Some people have been calling for a Cena heel turn for some time now, thinking that it cold have the same effect.  In their eyes Cena's act is tired and in need of some new angle.  He's held every title there is to have a million times over, won big matches, lost big matches, and has stayed a face (good guy) for nine years.  And the dueling chants every time he comes out are an indication that a large portion of the fanbase is already done with him.  Turning him heel would give the restless fans a chance to witness a re-imagining of the biggest star currently performing and would completely upset the apple cart in a good way.  Do I agree with this?  Not at all.  A Cena heel turn would play out a lot more like the lackluster Stone Cold Steve Austin turn from 2001, which started off in a shocking fashion similar to the Hogan turn but had the opposite effect.  The fans absolutely did not want an Austin turn and went away in droves. It was the beginning of the end of Austin's run at the top and for the most successful run the WWE had been on in almost a decade. I could easily see that happening again.  Cena's biggest supporters are kids and their parents, not grown-ups.  Those kids would be crushed and without a hero to cheer for.  Cena sells way more merchandise than any other wrestler and that revenue stream would be killed without the kids.  And if you're Vince McMahon you know that.  Kids and their parents will always be a bigger money maker than folks my age (40).  I buy Pay Per Views and nothing else, and with my subscription to the WWE Network being cemented that's going away.  I don't buy T-shirts, posters, or anything else.  It would be foolish to squander the money he's making to appease people in my demographic who won't reward the decision with any more money.
A Cena turn could also go like the heel turn attempted by the Rock in 2003 or, going back even further, the Road Warriors in 1988.  The Rock turn didn't take because people just flat out didn't want to boo the guy.  And when Hawk and Animal went bad in 1988 people actually dug it because they returned to their no holds barred style that people found so alluring in the first place.  They put a beating on the then-good guy Midnight Express that looked worthy of an assault and battery charge, a real bloodbath, and were cheered for it because it was what so many Road Warrior fans had wanted for years.  Less than six months later they were good guys again because it was impossible for them to draw any boos.  If Cena goes bad and does it well, then all the people who are booing him now will start cheering because they finally got what they wanted.  So you would still have the same 50/50 effect on Pay Per View and RAW live crowds, just with the tables turned.    What would be the point of that?  I'm sure he could cut some great heel promos, but the people who hate him now would love it.  And how long before he would become a face by default because it's hard to keep trying to get people to boo when they refuse because you're giving them what they want.  Even Hogan still got some cheers during his time with the NWO.

The other big reason not to to do it is because it's 2014.  In 1996 you had lots of wrestling websites, but what you didn't have were all the spoiler sites.  It is damn near impossible to keep anything under wraps unless your name is Chris Jericho.  A Cena heel turn would be leaked from the moment it was even being discussed in the meeting rooms at WWE headquarters.  We would be fed a barrage stories, all with some kernels of truth, about when they wanted to do it and who would be on the receiving end.  And when it finally did happen the shock value would not be there because we'd already know it was coming.  The other thing is that Cena is not Hulk Hogan.  By 1996 Hogan had been the standard bearer in both major wrestling companies.  His time in WCW was not going as well as originally hoped, though.  WCW fans never took to him like WWE fans did because he wasn't one of ours.  He was always a carpetbagger brought in to get some much needed juice for the company.  His onscreen displeasure with the fans was plausible in WCW because we never totally accepted him.  Cena going bad and disappointing all those kids because some 30 year old dudes boo him doesn't really make sense.  And the other important thing is that there are no Hall and Nash to stand with him.  The NWO worked because those two guys were a big deal in the WWE less than a year before they showed up on WCW television.  It was a huge deal when they showed up, and it added weight to Hogan's turn because he wasn't just going bad, he was siding with the invaders.  Who's there for Cena to side with?  He gonna be a Paul Heyman guy?  Or join the authority and stand next to Triple H?  I don't think so.

Sorry, 30 and older crowd who hate John Cena.  Giving you what you want isn't in the best interests of the company.  So you're not going to get it.  Get over it, and stop hating already.

No comments:

Post a Comment