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February 2, 2014

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Promos By Hyphen: John Cena: Best For Business

by Kelen Conley

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This edition of Promos By Hyphen was written before the 2014 Royal Rumble.

If you’re a faithful reader of Promos (as you should be), you’ll notice how I always have a little fun with John Cena by calling him Our Boy John Cena. I call him that because he’s been the face of the WWE for years and he’s the one consistent thing you can count on when you turn on any WWE programming. Due to that fact, he’s experienced a heightened version of the backlash that Hulk Hogan used to get in the early 90’s: fans are so sick of his character being the same that they developed an intense dislike for him. I myself participated in some of this hate, going so far on Twitter that either he (or a WWE Twitter person) blocked me. But over the years, I’ve gained a good bit of respect for him, even going so far to call myself a fan.

Since the last Promos, Survivor Series came and went with Cena challenging Randy Orton to a unification match at December’s TLC PPV. Orton won due to a dastardly pair of handcuffs to become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. So now he’s carrying around 2 belts and each week, he gets more pissy about having to be burdened with showing up to work, let alone having to actually wrestle. As is WWE tradition, when a Champion loses his Belt, he always gets a rematch, and Cena/Orton II (2013/2014 Feud) is on for the Royal Rumble. And as you would expect, fans who have reached puberty (or those who should’ve by now) are mad that John Cena is once again thrust into the spotlight while they’re chosen hero Daniel Bryan continues his feud with Bray Wyatt and the Wyatt Family.

But not me. While I should be upset that Creative is feeding the WWE Universe Cena/Orton again, I’m quite okay with it. But I’ve really mellowed when it comes to WWE’s product over recent months. So really, I dedicate this edition to Promos to my podcast partner Thomas Crawford as I attempt to explain why John Cena is really best for business at this time.

He’s the true face of the WWE: John Cena has been the most PG thing about WWE since they changed their product from the Attitude/Ruthless Aggression Eras to the Reality Era as David Shoemaker calls it. Week in, week out; house shows to Raw to SmackDown (sometimes) to Vegas for the WWE Network announcement and back across country for a house show; to all the wishes he’s granted for the Make-A-Wish Foundation: John Cena is there. He’s the closest thing to Hulk Hogan since Hulk Hogan. Sure, Stone Cold and The Rock were giants in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, but their cans of whoop ass and candy asses never reached their full potential, despite all the kids that were tuning in every week. John Cena is truly for the babies. He sells PPVs, whether fans like to admit it or not. I didn’t watch Survivor Series, but I damn sure tuned in for TLC…mostly because of Cena/Orton. The night my friends and I decided to go to WrestleMania XXVIII, it was moments after Cena/Rock I was booked a year before. SummerSlam? Cena/Bryan. The true face of the WWE.

John Cena can wrestle; stop it: There’s more than a few fans that say Cena has only 5 moves. Two shoulder blocks, hip toss, Five Knuckle Shuffle, and the Attitude Adjustment. Yes, these are Cena’s signature setup and finishing moves. Yes, he uses them consistently to win matches. Yes, it can be a bit repetitive. But let’s look at some other wrestlers:

CM Punk – Running knee/Go To Sleep
Daniel Bryan – several kicks while opponent is on knees/running knee and/or Yes Lock
Randy Orton – rope DDT/RKO (though the RKO is used more as an “out of nowhere” finisher

And to take it a bit further back:
Triple H – spinebuster/Pedigree
Shawn Michaels – leap from prone position on mat/Sweet Chin Music
The Rock – spinebuster/People’s Elbow and/or Rock Bottom
Stone Cold – Thesz Press/Stone Cold Stunner
Goldberg – spear/Jackhammer
Hulk Hogan – Hulk up/2 clotheslines/big boot/Atomic Leg Drop

ALL wrestlers have variations of their 5 moves of doom, they just aren’t as well known as Cena’s. Waving your hand in front of your face is known all over as “You Can’t See Me” and it just so happens to be done right before a Five Knuckle Shuffle. It’s one of the most common wrestling signs next to the People’s Eyebrow or a DX/Kliq/nWo crotch chop. The fans are there to see it.

That being said, what about all the other moves Cena does? He doesn’t do the top rope leg drop as much as he used to because of how valuable he is. You think Cena can’t take a bump as well as Dolph Ziggler? Well, probably not. But also, based on how many concussions Dolph has had since last WrestleMania, you think Creative wants to put Cena in those crazy spots? I personally think the STF has been underutilized in the past few years but that could be due to his elbow and triceps injuries. He also isn’t selling the lock as well as he used to either.

The main thing with Cena is he’s built like Hercules. Creative would rather put him in spots where he can show off his strength (see the double AA on Big Show and Edge a few years back) than where he performs some crazy leap or technical spot that he just doesn’t look good doing. But Cena can go. Stop it.

He won’t turn heel/he’s always Champion: See face of WWE. You can’t turn a mega face heel just because the fans demand it/are bored with their character. Have you seen the reaction Hogan got Bash at The Beach in 1996? He wasn’t even with WWE and people lost their minds. Can you imagine how many angry people there would be if Cena turns heel…anywhere? Raw, SmackDown, ‘Mania, house show; parents would right letters! Twitter would break! “I Paid Good Money For John Cena To Make My Kid Cry” memes would run rampant on Facebook. I’m not kidding.

The percentage of fans that want Cena heel is way, way, way smaller than the kids and parents who buy the merchandise, buy the DVDs, watch Raw faithfully, attend the house shows and live tapings, and cheer “Let’s Go Cena!” Remember those little boys who sat front row while Brock Lesnar pummeled Cena at Extreme Rules 2013? I wonder how much money their family put out to put them in those seats? Fans like myself bought and watched the PPV (and I threw a hissy fit over what I thought was Brock going off-script at the time, sorry again Moose). Fans who want Cena to turn heel either don’t watch or they watched the PPV on an unauthorized site. Why should Creative cater to those fans who aren’t truly supporting their product?

I’m trying to not bash the product and I may be bashing my readers unintentionally. I’m just trying to make a point.

The Champion thing does bother me at times, so we’ll agree here…a little. Putting the WWE Title back on Cena at ‘Mania NY/NJ wasn’t my favorite move but neither was Cena/Rock II.  I lived in fear during Punk’s 434 day reign that he would be bumped off by Cena, and WWE damn near did it at Night Of Champions 2013 before determining that Cena pinned both he and Punk’s shoulders at the match’s finish. And I’m truly glad that Punk didn’t lose the Strap to Cena (though Rock wasn’t much better).

But this one comes down to ratings. When Cena is the Champ, people tune in. Whether they’re enjoying what they’re watching or hating it is an entirely different matter. But I don’t want to hear crap about Cena not giving anyone else a chance. Punk, Sheamus, The GREAT KHALI, Alberto Del Rio, Daniel Bryan, Orton most recently…he’s more than glad to do the job when it’s called for. Rather have that than someone like Hogan or Kliq Era Michaels manipulating things backstage.

Conclusion: I could go on about things people hate about John Cena. His entrance music, his jean shorts, his colorful t-shirts, the way he runs to the ring, his relationship with Nikki Bella, how he’s always kissed Vince’s ass, his camo shorts, his sneakers, etc. But the bottom line is Cena works just as many dates as Punk and Bryan, if not more because of who he is. While granting wishes, while wrestling dark matches after the cameras are shut off, maybe on a case of beer or three a night like Ric Flair once said, but he does it. And the fans go home happy.

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