Doctor's Orders: My Breaking Point with John Cena Has Been Reached (plus MITB Mini-Review)
By The Doc
Jun 30, 2014 - 6:53:50 PM
The Snowman is a genius
QUESTION OF THE DAY: Do you think John Cena was the right choice to become the new WWE Champion at Money in the Bank?
Money in the Bank Thoughts
Feed problems continued on Sunday for me with WWE Network. After a perfectly clear, error free night for Extreme Rules in May, both June PPVs have been a pain in the padded backside. The main-events, particularly, have frozen up nearly a handful of times each for Payback and Money in the Bank. That’s twice, WWE. I’ve nearly had it. With the exception of the Match of the Night, I was unable to consistently view anything. After such a lousy viewing experience, here are my comments about the three matches in which I had the most interest.
The Usos pulled off the upset and beat Harper and Rowan in 12-minutes (***) (Usos vs. Wyatts was a hot opener. I missed about 3-minutes of it, but what I saw was exemplary. This is what the tag title division can be, as has been proven so many times over the last year. I was surprised to see the Usos win. I thought it was time for a title change, using the old tried and true method of creating rematches through the babyface former champions giving chase. I suspect we’ll still see a bunch of rematches and that will be fine by me. Those four pretty much are the tag team division right now)
Seth Rollins won the Money in the Bank Contract in 23-minutes (**** ¼) (After years and years of seeing these matches, I think it has become extremely difficult for any one to really stand out above the others, but this one might be an exception. Thanks to this match, the 2014 streak of offering a Match of the Year candidate at every PPV continued. If you go back and look at my reviews of the Money in the Bank matches from over the years, you’ll notice a trend of the bouts featuring unproven, hungrier talents being the higher rated versions. The Ladder match is simply made for that group. Unless you’ve got a hot main-event feud and a veteran of the gimmick, it’s just not meant for the 35-40 year old crop of headliners. The stipulation shines with a combination of glue guys such as a Matt Hardy or Finlay or Jack Swagger, talents without many punches in their bump card, and a rivalry that elicits an emotion greater than “Oh” and “Ah” from the audience. Swagger was fantastic. Kofi added the usual aerial, risk taking aesthetic, Dolph Ziggler did his best to steal the show, and Rollins took the bump of the night. In terms of spots, they were great and innovative – a real feather in the cap of all involved in booking these. The storyline between Rollins and Dean Ambrose put it over the top, though. It’s a heated feud that feels like a main-event level arc. Most MITB matches have some little things going on to build heat, but not many of them have had something like Ambrose vs. Rollins that could earn the kind of pop that Dean got when he ran down to the ring last night after “receiving treatment for his shoulder injury.” It accomplished building the rivalry between Ambrose and Rollins further and put the briefcase on the right choice. MITB works better for heels. Fantastic stuff)
John Cena made me want to take a break from wrestling in 26-minutes (***) (Well, that was certainly a mixed bag in a lot of different ways. I spent the majority of the match getting my excitement level built up, only for the feed to freeze. Then John Cena won the title for the 15th time. The match itself felt a lot like the Cena-Orton Ladder match from last December. The stakes were ridiculously high and the effort was there, but it just didn’t work. Unfortunately, these eight guys were unable to benefit from being the only ladder match on the card as was the case at TLC 2013. So much contributed to my ill feelings toward it. On the bright side, I sure hope that they use the spot with the two ladders linked together again. The site of Cesaro struggling at the top of a ladder tipped backwards and propped against a smaller ladder was an incredible visual. Cesaro was the standout performer, in my opinion. Without him, this match was a turd covered in rainbow glitter. Everyone tried their best, but the one thing that this match had going for it was potential unpredictability, so the decision to go with the most boring and predictable winner soured it tremendously for yours truly)
For my thoughts on the whole show, check out the podcast on Wednesday at 5PM linked below.
My Breaking Point with John Cena Has Been Reached
I’ve been around these parts for a long time. I reviewed Smackdown for LOP when “The Doctor of Thuganomics” was ascending to his spot and reviewed Raw and PPVs when “The Champ” was cutting his teeth as a main-eventer. Not only have I “seen” John Cena, I’ve provided written commentary to his entire career as we know it. For the majority of that time, I have praised the man to no end. The bottom line on his legacy is that he is already a candidate for “Greatest of the WrestleMania Era” and he’s not even finished, yet. He has done everything necessary to secure his place at the roundtable but the obvious (the heel turn), including lengthy title reigns, huge headlining matches, and numerous classic bouts with a variety of stylistically different opponents. Despite my appreciation for his work, though, something recently clicked in my mind that left me completely intolerant of the John Cena character.
It took a long time for me to reach this point. My general stance on Cena for years had been that he was unquestionably stale, but that WWE had little choice in keeping him the same because of the monstrous role that he played in their system. However, like a health condition slowly but surely developing underneath the surface, my disdain for Cena’s lack of even the slightest tweak in his persona was growing. Health problems are often misrepresented by medical professionals as short-term occurrences brought on by circumstantial evidence. Unfortunately, most health problems are brought on by a long chain of events. As it pertains to Cena, here’s what happened with me:
The biggest feud that Cena ever had was with The Rock. It peaked at WrestleMania XXVIII and, though there was a natural rematch to be had between the two thereafter, there was only one other thing that Cena could do in his career that would be on par with his match with Dwayne Johnson – face the Undertaker and attempt to topple The Streak. It was the potential bout with The Deadman and not anything else that made me irritated by Cena-Rock 2. On every level but the one I most cared about, Cena vs. Rock at Mania 29 made sense. I enjoyed the rematch, viewing it live at Met Life with two of my best friends last April. To me, though, it should have been Cena vs. Taker. I frustrated of Cena and WWE that spring more than I realized. Given the opportunity to right what I had considered to be a wrong this year, WWE again went in another direction. Cena, instead of helping Taker to a satisfying conclusion to the wrestling chapter of his life, offered an up-and-comer the opportunity to benefit from his own Mania shine. Bray Wyatt made the most of it and had me “Following the Buzzards.” Still, I was left wanting and the frustration had grown considerably. I really wanted the Cena-Taker match and had to come to the realization, post-Mania XXX, that it wouldn’t happen. It turned out to be OK, I thought, because Cena was going to transition away from being the go-to guy and instead become a feature attraction. He would merely be a guy who stepped in to have big matches with returning stars or newly minted headliners like Triple H and Undertaker had for years. That comfort level disappeared with the notion of Cena regaining the WWE title again. So many emerging talents had risen to the precipice of superstardom. Even with Daniel Bryan injured, all that WWE had to do was pick another one. They went with Cena. And here we are.
I’m sure many of you have similar stories, so feel free to share them…
The straw that broke the camel’s back for me, believe it or not, was a mere dirtsheet rumor last week that Cena was going to win the WWE Championship again and defend it against Brock Lesnar at Summerslam 2014. After years of defending both Cena and WWE’s position on him, I just could not take it anymore. I feel eerily similar to the way that I did two decades ago. Back in 1993, Hulk Hogan won the WWE Championship despite being such a stale, drag of a pro wrestler. I stopped watching wrestling for almost three years because of it. I was unaware of the reason back in the early 1990s, but I understand it today. Hulkamania was on life support and WWE put the title on its leader. I was not yet a teenager then, but I knew it what it felt like to be massively underwhelmed by a WWE booking decision. Hogan could have transitioned to being the Babe Ruth of wrestling like Andre had been in the 1980s and kept on keeping on as a headliner that boosted the profile of the entire product around him. The mistake that WWE made was reverting back to him as WWE Champion. It stunted the promotion’s momentum. Well, I’m underwhelmed beyond belief by John Cena in 2014. The CeNation has been preaching its message for a decade, unwavering in its belief of the way things should be done. I’ve been OK with that and I still am OK with that, for the record. I simply believe that John Cena as WWE Champion stunts WWE’s momentum.
I want those of you that consider this column to be “the voice of the voiceless” – the positive members of the internet wrestling community – to know that I do not intend for this column to be a complaint or the proverbial towel being thrown in on keeping the faith. This is not like my post-Royal Rumble rant, for instance, where I got swept up in the wave of emotion created by the #Yes!Movement. What you are reading right now is not coming from a place of unbridled passion for the product as it was then. Sadly, this column is fueled by indifference. Asked to describe my thoughts on John Cena in a single word, “apathy” is the word I would choose. When Batista won the Rumble, at least I cared. It made me want to see him lose and Daniel Bryan find a way to win. Frankly, it was the purest emotion I’d had for wrestling in a long time. John Cena makes me NOT care. I mean it when I say that I hate that it’s come to that, but it’s bound to happen when a character featured in a business that’s supply and demand is stimulated by fresh TV storylines and match combinations has not changed one iota in a decade. As much I like standing on the soapbox and demanding that wrestling fans wait for “the follow up,” we already know where Cena is heading. Hustle, Loyalty, Respect, The Champ is Here, Never Give Up, etc. That record has been on repeat since 2005. Last week, the record wore out. Last night, I found out that I could no longer play it in my house. I need a new John Cena album or I’m done with him.
There is no doubting Cena is still a huge asset to WWE. He will be that until the day he leaves the company. I cannot dispute that he was a logical choice to steer the WWE ship through uncertain times with Bryan on the shelf. At the same time, I also cannot dispute how much that makes me want to find something else to do with my Monday (and occasional Sunday) nights. There will come a time when John Cena being back in the title picture will be really good for business, in my opinion. That time is not now. Cena as WWE Champion today feels like we, as fans who wanted change, lost our momentum when Bryan went down with an injury and lost his. It didn’t have to be that way. Seriously, it really didn’t. Imagine if this was 2006. You remember those days? If Cena had to take a surgical sabbatical during a period when the Mania 21 group was coming on so strong, Triple H getting the title back would have been a groan-inducing set back. It’s not like Trips wasn’t great at his job, but it was time for him to move away from being champion.
Where Cena will best be used is when several of these rising stars become bonafide top guys. I look at Roman Reigns and see an obvious WrestleMania main-event on the horizon between him and Cena, as early as next year. I personally believe that Reigns going over Lesnar is just too perfect a scenario for WWE to pass on, mainly because I think it imperative to use Brock’s considerable credibility to help solidify a new star. They could do Reigns vs. Cena next year, but Brock is a commodity with a historically shaky commitment level to pro wrestling and fluctuating levels of health. It would be a missed opportunity if WWE fails to use Lesnar to put someone like Reigns on the map in front of the most important wrestling audience of the year. I expect Cena to play the role for Reigns that Shawn Michaels played for him. Roman needs to have a few years of main-event experience under his belt for that to happen in the most ideal way possible. So, there’s no doubt that Cena has plenty of top matches at all the major shows left in him, but they do have the luxury of picking and choosing when they use him in championship situations and the time has come to be more selective.
For me, John Cena has to change to be tolerable. Perhaps he could take a page out of HBK’s playbook. Only once in the last eight years of his career did Michaels actually turn heel and it was only for 7 weeks. He did a great job, though, of tweaking and adapting his on-screen personality to stay fresh. Cena does have moments where he brings something new to the table, but it’s so rare that it makes my head hurt to find those times in my memory. The bottom line is that, for the longest time, I was able to look past the stagnant character and focus on the performances. I cannot do that any longer. As the late, great Owen Hart once said, “Enough is enough!”
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Wednesday at 5PM EST - The Doc Says...” The Doc Says...Daniel Bryan is Cursed and Money in the Bank Failed”
This week, The Doc gives his 5-star Review of Money in the Bank, ranking the top five matches from the card and dissecting the key talking points. How does he feel about John Cena being WWE Champion again and Seth Rollins winning Money in the Bank? Also, The Doc gives his unique perspective on Daniel Bryan's health and offers insight as to how his current plight may affect the rest of his career. All this and more from the author of The WrestleMania Era: The Book of Sports Entertainment.
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