August 9, 2006
John R. Nocero
ANSWERING READER MAIL
Occasionally I hear from intelligent wrestling fans. Let me to introduce you to Andrew Beal from London, Ontario. He plans on going into Ohio Valley Wrestling’s beginner’s program in August 2007, so naturally he has a logical interest in the direction that professional wresting has taken over the past few years. He writes:
"My biggest question is... What do you think of John Cena? I think he is a charismatic wrestler with very little real talent. After watching a live event in my hometown, I realized how bad he really was. There was one point in the match were Lita had to low blow him 3 times before he realized what was going on. If it weren't for the fact that Edge is a really good wrestler the match would have been horrid."
John Cena has a marvelous look. Many would kill to be half as ripped, with a hint of his abs or arms. He moves merchandise. When given the chance on the stick to use his deadpanned delivery and just be himself, he is quite amusing. Cena has amazing charisma, but I don’t feel he has little talent. Maybe that match you watched had some blown spots. You’ve drawn a blank for a sec when teachers called on you in class, right? Same thing. I saw Cena and Kurt Angle in a steel cage match in a house show last December and they tore the house down.
Focusing on the Cena mega-push within the past year gives us a better idea where fan backlash began concerning his wrestling abilities. He’s jumped up the proverbial ladder as prototype, wigger and US champ, finally winning the WWE Title from JBL at Wrestlemania 21 April 3, 2005. The next month, he defends against JBL in a bloody “I Quit” match at Judgment Day. He then gets drafted to RAW June 6, 2005, and the troubles began.
Cena was booked to look like a pussy in feuds with both Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle. It seemed that WWE Creative, under the guise of GM Eric Bischoff, put him in situations where he looked surprisingly weak for a world champion. He couldn’t possibly win facing unbeatable odds each week, but managed to eek out some miraculous victory by the skin of his teeth. What that did was weaken him as both a wrestler and champion in the fan’s eyes. Ass kicking champions do just that on their own. Cena didn’t.
During his feud with Kurt Angle, the E resorted to having your Olympic hero pull cheap heat by mocking the troops in order to offset the negative reactions Cena was getting in arenas across the country. Now Cena can get the combo to any hottie’s crap locker in the 16-22 demographic, but male wrestling fans in the same demo knew there was no chance he could kick Angle’s ass. They also began to see Cena’s formulaic wrestling style in the ring against a true wrestler and saw him as a mockery, a sham. At this time, the E should have played off this negative crowd reaction in Cena’s favor, by giving him a bit of edginess in his promos and some of his meanness back. But Cena was “nice,” and shoved down the fans’ throats in an attempt to appeal to hip-hop kids. And the majority of the wrestling community turned on him.
So he loses the title to Edge at New Year’s Revolution to begin 2006 and quickly regains it at the Royal Rumble, leading to a showdown with Triple H at WrestleMania 22. Now think back to those promos. HHH tore him apart, telling him, and the fans, Cena wasn’t in his league. Quite frankly, Cena didn’t say anything to stand up to him, other than HHH has beaten the best, and that he would not back down. Weak booking again.
We know the rest from there. I contend that Cena is showing signs of getting his edge back. Face it, one thing we all can identify with is anger, even those of us holier than thou. Fans understand now how Cena could be pissed that he got ripped off in losing the title, because all of us have been cheated out of a promotion at work or had a girlfriend stolen. As a result, we relate to the character and fan reactions have improved.
And we are also seeing a more mature Cena. Remember when Batista looked like a deer in the headlights in Hammerstein Ballroom during his ECW title match with the Big Show a couple weeks ago? Yeah, fans shouted “change the channel” at you, big man. Cena had his shirt thrown back in his face when he defended there June 11; Hell, he even looked up in the rafters and saw a sign that read “If Cena Wins, We Riot.” He stood out in a hostile environment and gave a dramatic performance, something that Batista didn’t or wasn’t capable of.
Bottom line: Cena is Hulk Hogan ’06. Vince likes the character and will protect him. Instead of delivering canned rap sonnets, Cena actually appears more at ease on the mic. He will win the title at SummerSlam and I hope has enough top tier heels that can carry him to good matches. Cena knows his limitations as a worker and doesn’t try to do more than he can but he still has room to improve and I am sure Cena knows this. If he churns out quality, entertaining matches, whether you tune in or buy a ticket to see him win or get his ass kicked, the character is succeeding.
Remember, people chanted “Die Rocky Die” until Mr. Maivia morphed into The People’s Champion, the 90’s version of Ric Flair. Today, The Rock is spoken of with reverence, rather than discourse. Let’s give John Cena that same allowance.
Andrew continues, "I'm also curious of what you think of Cena's spinning title. I think it is an insult of all the blood sweat and tears that was poured into that belt over the years by guys like Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, and many more."
If WWE titles actually meant anything anymore, I probably would take more offense at the obnoxious strap. Fact is, I don’t care. I am sure that new belt keeps foam replicas flying off the shelf. The way the E books now, belts are props, almost meaningless in fact. Belts meant something in the past, now they mean dick. You don’t believe me? Ask the Spirit Squad.
Andrew concludes, "My last question is..How long do you think the ECW resurrection will last it already seems like a lost cause to me."
I was never really a huge fan of the old ECW, probably because it was never available on TV in my area. I remember the buzz it generated with “Barely Legal” and no doubt it paved the way for the freakshow spotfest indy wrestling feds on the scene that are here today and then gone today. If you were looking for a smattering or even a smidgen of the old ECW, forget it pal. That is barely recognizable here. Remember, this is a third WWE brand. This is not Paul Heyman’s ECW run from his parent’s basement. This is Vince McMahon’s ECW, and his fingerprints are all over every show. I feel badly for the product that he has to resort to having RAW and SMACKDOWN! stars appear regularly in ECW title matches in a lame attempt to get viewers to tune in. I don’t know why Kelly Kelly’s expose, which is terrible terrible, is still featured each week. Oh yeah, that’s because the pre-pubescent boys watching from 10-11 pm haven’t yet discovered Internet porn. I hate misanthropes like Mike Knox and Test cluttering up some 20 minutes of an hour time slot like they were last night. However, I love CM Punk, and feel he is the next big breakout star if they allow him to be. If the E could use the ECW show to develop new ECW stars, while doing more to acknowledge and satiate the violent appetites of the older ECW fans, they could have a successful run. Oh and memo to WWE Creative, Sabu doesn’t talk.
Thanks for writing Andrew. If you want your questions answered here, drop me a line, I aim to please. Back next week with a SummerSlam preview. Later bitches!