THE SPECIALISTS MAGIC, MEMORIES AND MANIA: Ten Step Plan for a more refreshing John Cena return
Nov 19, 2008 - 10:57:31 AM
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By Shawn Valentino, PWTorch Specialist
This Sunday, WWE presents its annual fall tradition, the Survivor Series. Over the years, this PPV has provided us with some of the biggest moments in wrestling history - from Steve Austin and Bret Hart's classic match to the Montreal Screwjob. This Sunday, the big selling point is the return of John Cena, the biggest star in wrestling of the moment.
Cena, as we all know, is a unique superstar in that he generates a divergent reaction between different sections of the crowd. The women and children seem to love him, while adult males - wrestling's main demographic - generally cannot stand him. Cena is the classic case of a wrestler who started off as a hot heel who was then turned babyface because of strong crowd reactions, but in the process, lost the coolness and the edge that made him popular in the first place. This week, we will look at some ideas to freshen up John Cena's character upon his return.
10. No more lame jokes
Cena has to be one of the most over-scripted characters in the history of wrestling. Unfortunately, whoever is writing for him has a really lame, juvenile sense of humor. Most of Cena's jokes appeal to the lowest common denominator of fans. Poop jokes do not make a wrestler cool. I do not know if the writers are feeding him this garbage or if Cena is writing this idiotic tripe himself, but all I know is if he ever is going to gain support from wrestling's main fanbase, the atrocious jokes have to go.
9. Bring back some swagger
If you look back at Cena's earlier days, when he was a heel, he had a really cool bad-ass entrance. There was a certain swagger to his step and although nobody took him seriously as a street-thug, he effectively portrayed that there was an edge to his personality. He needs to bring some of that back if he is going to be cool again.
8. Do some raps here and there
I am not going to deny that WWE made a smart move by transitioning away from the rapper character, but it would not hurt if Cena did some freestyle raps here and there to put down his opponent. He was a pretty witty guy and could deliver his rhymes fairly effectively in a wrestling context. A few smartly written poetic putdowns of his opponents may bring back some support for the former Doctor of Thuganomics.
7. Ditch the jean shorts
Wade Keller has mentioned this many times, and I will say it as well. The jean shorts need to go, plain and simple.
6. Address the people who hate him by playing a Bret Hart 1997-type character
One of the dumbest things on WWE television the last few years is watching Cena get booed but still having him continue to smile and deliver goofy lines. I always thought there would be money in a John Cena who chooses to address the hatred from a portion of the fanbase and react to it by lashing out that adults are not smart enough or cool enough to like him.
If Cena plays to the women and kids while giving the older guys the big proverbial FU, it may make for a rabid reaction from the audience. The Cena fan polarization has been one of the few things that have drawn a passionate reaction from the crowd. Unfortunately, WWE has done nothing to play off it. I think Cena acknowledging the people who like him and address those who hate him would draw big money.
5. Create merchandise for each side of the Cena debate
If WWE addresses the fact that so many of Cena's fans hate him, they should create merchandise that allows them to display that heated reaction. Just imagine a crowd full of fans who are wearing shirts that either depicts their love for Cena or their hatred for him. Again, I still cannot figure out why the WWE has not taken advantage of the divergent reaction he has generated from the crowd.
4. Turn him heel
Now, I can totally understand the argument against this, but there would be no bigger heel turn in recent years than a potential Cena-turn. This year, his fan support has waned and he has lost more matches than ever. WWE has patiently held off on this because of the merchandise sales Cena accumulates, but when this turn finally occurs, it will be a huge deal. I think the money that fans who have been waiting for and edgier Cena will be willing to spend might make up for lost sales. I am not sure that this is not a perfect time for WWE to hit the reset button on John Cena.
3. Align him with a faction
I understand that this may not be the most popular idea, but if they turn him heel I think Cena could benefit from being in a faction with some hipper, edgy acts such as Miz and Morrison. This would make fans feel better for hating him because he is aligned with other characters that are really not likeable. It could also benefit lower card wrestlers looking like bigger stars than they are. I could see John Morrison and Cena making a good team before the inevitable break-up. There is big money in the future in a match between an edgier Cena and a Morrison character with more gravitas. Whoever Cena aligns himself up with should elevate to become bigger stars by association, and also help Cena in the process.
2. Get rid of the bad facial expressions
One of Cena's weakest elements in his repertoire is his facial expressions. The exaggerated looks seem straight out of a bad cartoon. This goes both for during his promos and his ridiculous facial gestures in the ring. It is just an embarrassment and they should show close-ups of his face in action so that he can see how inane it looks.
1. Stop portraying him as such a dork
This is a broad statement that encompasses all of the ideas above. People have been afraid to adjust Cena's character because kids and women love him, but the reason they like him is because he comes across as a really charismatic personality. There is a way they could tweak his character to make him more serious and cool with appeal to adults without alienating his main fanbase of kids and women. After all, kids loved the Rock and Austin as well, but they were still edgy acts.
Cena needs to get rid of that marine salute he keeps doing, as if his character is clueless to the fact that the filming of his d-grade film is over. He has to stop referring to himself as a soldier going to war, which is in fact insulting to actual military men. They need to let the guy be more serious and intense without neutralizing his charisma. I do not know any guy over eighteen who watches wresting now who thinks Cena is a cool act. Once he stops coming across as such a huge dork, WWE can see the real dollars roll in, and it will not be just from people too young to drive to the arenas.
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