Today’s Episode: The Slowly Grinding Wheel
To harp on the idea of the John Cena heel turn would be exceedingly redundant, not just by me, but by the entire Internet Wrestling Community. It’s something that we’ve been calling for, begging for, for years only to be occasionally teased by the company…or at least, thought we were being teased by the company. John Cena joining the Nexus was meant to be the final straw for his character, allowing him to show some villainous chops and perhaps revitalize the stale superhuman babyface that has earned a bizarre reaction of adulation, tolerance, and blinding, scathing hatred.
WWE has, I think, more than made their case over the years for why John Cena is fine where he is. In fact, earlier this year, in the lead-up to his Summerslam rematch with CM Punk, Cena very eloquently explained his status in the same way he did this past Monday: his fans, the people who “get him,” are those he fights for, and that there are people that will never, ever win over, and they can cheer whomever they please. He’s a face and a heel, so there’s really no reason to ever change him, right?
But then Roddy Piper comes on Raw and seems to get the wheel turning that would, one thinks, be the first steps to a full-fledged, honest-to-God turn to villainy for the unbeatable pureheart that has been righteously standing for truth and justice these past several years. Sure, the fans at MSG booed the hell out of him in favor of The Rock, but what else was to be expected? Despite his leaving them 7 years ago, fans never lost their love for The Rock, recognizing him for what he is: a movie star launched from pro wrestling, and who occasionally comes back and entertains them even when he has no real need, financial or otherwise, to do so. The Rock was always going to be more popular than Cena when the two matched up, as one transcended the business while the other is simply the biggest name in it.
But I digress.
Why would Piper start turning that wheel, that slow, grinding wheel that takes us down the path of the myth of the “John Cena Heel Turn”? And even though Piper mentioned Cena’s need to tell off the fans for a second time on Smackdown this past Tuesday, there’s no way they would ever actually go through with it, right? Merchandising aside, does WWE have the spine to shatter the hearts of tiny little children everywhere? I mean, did you SEE those little three-year-olds in the front row who were absolutely dripping in John Cena gear, using what few motor skills they had to wave the “You Can’t See Me” sign in front of their faces? To turn him heel, let alone the kind of heel that he should be i.e. destroyer of worlds, would be akin to Clifford the Big Red Dog squashing all of his regular-dog-sized friends ‘neath his crimson heel while staring at the camera and screaming, “Is this what you want?! You brought this on!”
Cue the waterworks and burning “Rise Above Hate” shirts. I get it. I really do. I am beyond wishing that Cena will be anything other than he is, because I understand why he is what he is for a variety of reasons.
And yet that wheel grinds. I can hear it screeching, agonizingly, across the pavement, moving forward, pushed by someone whose hands we can’t quite see, but despite it all, it’s moving forward. I don’t know if it will go anywhere, but I’m willing to wait patiently, albeit distracted by other things, while it scrapes towards its destination.
You’ve got me down this rabbit-hole for a little bit once again, WWE. I look forward to blowing this out of proportion once again.