Writer's Note: She's back with another column, ladies and gentlemen. Recent HusCorp collaborator Brie has just posted her second solo column over in the Columns Forum of LoPForums.com, and it would behoove you to go check it out. She was purposely a bit negative in her solo debut, but this time around, she heads in the other direction and looks at her favorite wrestler. Be on the lookout for her to return to HusCorp very soon, by the way. Click the following link and go take a look at her column..
It has been nearly 17 days since I've sat down to write a column. In those 17 days, a lot has happened in my personal and "professional" life. In those 17 days, I haven't had the opportunity to read the columns of other people as much as I would like, but I have been paying attention to what folks have been saying about the world of wrestling. I've kept my ear to the street, so to speak.
Something happened leading up to Over The Limit, then at Over The Limit, and I have to talk about it here tonight.
Leading up to the show, news broke that the John Cena VS John Laurinaitis match would be the main event, ahead of the WWE Title match, and ahead of the World Title match. People were upset, to say the least. It "devalued" the titles. It "made the champions look bad". To those people, I have one thing to say..
Get the fuck outta here with that bullshit.
First and foremost, let's not complain too much about the title belts in a sport where match results are scripted. The belts have been nothing more than "props" for several decades now. It doesn't matter what happens.. who comes, who goes.. that isn't going to change.
Second of all, and what is becoming the main "point" of my column.. John Cena has officially reached the point in his career where he's "above" the titles. He is now along the lines of what Andre The Giant was in the later years of his career, and to a certain level, what guys like The Rock and Brock Lesnar are at this point in their careers.. he's more of a "special attraction" than a regular member of the WWE roster.
Do not get my words twisted, though.. that isn't to say he'll never contend for titles again. It's just that it's exactly what I said.. the top titles in the company are at a particular level, while John Cena is at a level above that.
There are "old school" wrestling fans reading this right now, and they probably feel like having a stroke. That's fine. It's the truth, and the sooner they realize it's the truth, the better off they'll be.
John is in a very interesting spot in his professional career. At 35, he's no longer a young, wet-behind-the-ears rookie, but he's also not struggling to walk like a lot of grizzled veterans are. Barring serious injuries or a loss of love for the business, you have to assume that Cena will be around for at least another five years, but you'd probably be expecting more along the lines of another decade in the ring. Wrestling at the age of 45 might sound like a lot to ask for, but let's not forget.. The Undertaker (47) and Triple H (42) just had a headlining match at WrestleMania this year, and Shawn Michaels was 45 when he retired from being an in-ring competitor. The current WWE roster features such "old timers" as Big Show (40), Chris Jericho (41), KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE (45, and damn, it felt good to be able to type that name again), R-Truth (40), Tensai (going to be 40 before the year is over), and Mark Henry (41 in a couple weeks). That isn't even looking at people on the TNA roster or competing regularly on the independent circuit. Again, barring serious injuries ending his career or cutting his career short a bit, and a complete loss of love for wrestling, there is absolutely no reason not to think John Cena couldn't wrestle another decade.
What if he does, though?
What if he does wrestle for another decade? Then what?
Obviously, he's going up against Big Show at No Way Out, and guess what, ladies and gentlemen? I'm not exactly going out on a limb by saying that match will main event the show, even without the WWE Title or the World Title on the line. I'm just preparing you now, so I don't see as many hurt feelings the day before the event as I saw the day before Over The Limit. I've already talked to some people who are predicting the Cena/Show feud stretches out through SummerSlam, and the mere thought of having to see them face each other for three consecutive pay-per-views makes me very angry, to the point where I want to do something like this..
I suppose it wouldn't shock me to see WWE stretch the feud on a bit. I just don't want to see it. If this is just a one-show (no pun intended) feud, though, what is Cena's next direction? After No Way Out, we have Money In The Bank before we finally reach SummerSlam.
Money In The Bank. Hmm..
Call me crazy, but would it be so bad if Cena was inserted into a Money In The Bank match? Think about it.. having Cena involved in the match does wonders for how prestigious and how important the match is.
I can already hear the complaining from some of you, calling me a hypocrite because I've said Money In The Bank should be used as a vehicle to create new stars, and I still stand by that. Did you read anything about me saying Cena should win Money In The Bank? No, you didn't, because I made zero mention of him winning the match. You place him in the match, and the spotlight shines brighter on everyone else involved. You have him right there at the end of the match, only to lose out to a younger superstar (for the sake of an example, let's say Kofi Kingston), and that younger superstar becomes elevated twofold. Not only did "Kofi" win the match to earn himself a WWE/World Title shot at any time, but he got past John Cena to do it. One of the single biggest complaints people seem to have with the current WWE product is that they aren't building enough new top-level stars for the future, both of the distant and the not-too-distant variety. Problem solved with my scenario.
As we've all heard, and as I've mentioned in previous columns, there was a point in time when an idea for a match trilogy between John Cena and The Rock was floating around. They had their match at WrestleMania 28, but would also go on to face each other at SummerSlam, before having the final match take place at WrestleMania 29. In my current scenario, the door would be open for those two to have a match at SummerSlam, but in my opinion, there wouldn't be enough time to properly build that match here. Cena would be coming off of a loss at Money In The Bank on July 15th, and SummerSlam takes place on August 19th. Would Cena calling The Rock out on the July 16th episode of Raw to get the ball rolling be enough? It's obviously a huge match, even though it would be their second time facing off, and those are the types of matches the WWE Creative Team can't just haphazardly throw together in a rush. Well, not unless Raw's ratings are in the 2.5 range by the time July 16th rolls around, but that's a different discussion for a different day.
Just for shits and giggles, let's continue to run with the idea that Kofi Kingston won the Raw Money In The Bank at.. Money In The Bank. You know what would be a nice way to further solidify Kofi's push to the top of the company? Giving him a one-on-one marquee match at SummerSlam against.. yup.. John Cena. It might not appear to be a "pay-per-view main event" quality match in the eyes of some of you, but that's fine. Why is that fine? All of the rumors are pointing at Triple H VS Brock Lesnar taking place at SummerSlam this year, and that is going to be the main event of the night, allowing a bit of wiggle room when it comes to the other "main event" matches.
If you don't think a month-long period where he gets past John Cena to win Money In The Bank and then pins Cena in a "main event" match at SummerSlam has the potential to turn Kofi Kingston into a "made man", you're a fool.
For the rest of 2012, I'd like to see Cena placed in a similar role as I have him here with Kofi.. elevating new talent. In fact, one simple statement that was made on the June 7th, 2010 episode of Raw could easily be used to help another feud begin.
"You.. are not.. better than me!"
If you don't have the greatest memory, or if you're new to the world of wrestling, June 7th, 2010 is when The Nexus made their stunning debut in one of the single-best segments in the history of the business. Although he wasn't the leader of the group, Daniel Bryan really stood out in the minds of people that night. After the group had attacked John Cena, Bryan would kneel down next to Cena's fallen body and yell "You.. are not.. better than me!" over and over again. Here we are, two years later, and we haven't seen Cena and Bryan face off. The bigger wrestling nerds know that Cena and Bryan had a match against each other during a 2003 episode of WWF Velocity, when Cena was still a rookie, and before "The American Dragon" Bryan Danielson became Daniel Bryan, but wouldn't this be a nice time to help elevate Daniel Bryan? Sure, Bryan has been the World Champion, and is currently involved in a bit of a feud with WWE Champion CM Punk, but he's never even really come close to being looked at as the guy.
That's where a feud with John Cena comes into play. Look, ladies and gentlemen.. having amazing technical matches against a fellow "indy darling" is fine and dandy, but for Daniel Bryan to really reach an elite level in the company, he needs to be on Raw, engaged in a feud with John Cena. It's that simple. The crowd pops he continues to get, with YES-a-mania continuing to run wild, show that the WWE Universe is ready to see more of him. It just seems to make too much sense not to happen, if you ask me. After SummerSlam, the 2012 pay-per-view events are, in order, Night Of Champions, Hell In A Cell, Survivor Series and Tables, Ladders & Chairs. That's four events. If the company plays its cards correctly, you could easily have Cena and Bryan face each other at two or three of them. Unlike the Cena/Show series I mentioned earlier, I'd love to see John Cena VS Daniel Bryan wrestle at three consecutive pay-per-views. As I've said on countless occasions, Cena's best matches seem to be against people that are smaller than he is. It allows him to wrestle a different style. A more aggressive style that helps to further accentuate his power game. That's the type of feud that could help Daniel Bryan look like a million bucks if he keeps fighting back. He did it against the likes of Mark Henry and Big Show, so you'd have to assume he'd be doing it against Cena, as well. A man who never seems to give up in his matches, no matter the size disadvantage he happens to be facing, taking on a man who had "Never Give Up" as a catchphrase for a lengthy amount of time.
Even if Cena goes on to win that feud, it can still do wonders in elevating Daniel Bryan. Hell, it can even do wonders for Cena, who has proven that he can hang in the ring when facing off against more technical wrestlers (CM Punk immediately comes to mind, of course).
So, let's see..
Just winging it off the top of my head, I've put together scenarios that would keep John Cena from being the WWE/World Champion for the next seven months, and I even elevated two names to legit main event status in the process.
It would be silly to think that Cena won't add to his ten WWE Title or two World Title reigns before he retires. Absolutely, positively silly. Cena needs five more WWE/World Title reigns to pass Ric Flair's (official) tally of 16, and if you use the ten more years of wrestling that I gave him earlier, there's a very, very good possibility he'll pass it. Sorry, anti-Cena fans, but it's something you're going to learn to live with.
I'm going to say this again.. John Cena is at a very interesting stage of his career. He doesn't need to keep winning anymore, but there's a flip side to this coin that a lot of people aren't really thinking about very much..
With John Cena being the one and only true ratings draw on the WWE roster (as far as full-time workers are concerned), could the dip in ratings that WWE is seeing be because of the vulnerability that has been added to Cena's character? Could a lot of the die-hard Cena fans that tune in every week be tired of seeing Cena losing and getting his ass kicked left and right? Let's not forget.. despite some of you liking to think so, the internet fans only make up a small percentage of the WWE Universe. The overall minority of live audience members just so happen to be the vocal majority, so it sounds like there are arenas full of Cena "haters" in every city the company performs in, but if you've ever attended a WWE event, from a house show all the way up to a WrestleMania, you know that's not even close to correct. You know that every single arena and every single stadium the company performs in is full of much more pro-Cena fans than anti-Cena fans. Again.. overall minority is the vocal majority. It happens. My question might sound like a joke, but I'm actually serious, and I'd love to hear what the folks of ReaderLand have to say..
Whether you're a fan of John Cena or you can't stand anything about the guy, how much of WWE's sagging ratings do you attribute to Cena fans tuning out because of the way Cena has been booked in recent months?
I'm not asking for anything more than the answer to that question. If you don't think the Cena fans tuning out has anything to do with the decline in ratings, you don't have to give me your list of reasons why you think it's happening. Just read the question, really stop and think about it, and give me an answer.
Let's get back to the lecture at hand, though..
It's time for the WWE Creative Team to start using John Cena to help elevate other names. It is crystal clear to anyone that is paying any attention that the Creative Team can't elevate new names on their own, with their own ideas. If they're going to count on Cena to do everything else for them, they might as well use him to take various midcarders and upper-midcarders in the next several years, and elevate them to the main event scene, even if it's just on a temporary basis. Look at the names in FCW right now that are just itching to be called up to the main roster. People like Seth Rollins, Kassius Ohno, and Dean Ambrose. Look at the names that just got called up or repackaged. People like Antonio Cesaro, Brodus Clay or Ryback. These are all people that could really use the rub that a feud with (or heaven forbid, a win against) John Cena would provide.
We haven't even looked at the possibility of finally getting Cena VS The Undertaker at WrestleMania before Taker decides it's time to hang up his wrestling boots for good. We haven't even looked at the possibility of other names from the past being brought back for short programs with Cena. Someone like Batista immediately springs to mind for something like that. We haven't even looked at the possibility of names that don't exactly have previous history with Cena being brought back to face him. I've seen people talk about the idea of Cena VS "Stone Cold" Steve Austin one day, or even Cena VS Hulk Hogan. Whether you want to see those matches or not, you know they'd be big deals, and they would keep Cena "busy" for a while.
I'm going to say this again for some of you.. get used to Cena being in the main events of television and pay-per-view, even if he isn't involved in a title picture. He's worked his ass off to reach that level in his career, and he's earned it. Having him as a glorified "special attraction" doesn't "devalue" the WWE/World Title. If anything is going to "devalue" the titles, it's the people that are involved in the title chase. Continuing to push people like Alberto Del Rrrrrio (I missed that, too) to the main event, even though live audiences have never cared about him enough to justify the main event pushes, is what's going to "devalue" titles. Having Daniel Bryan drop the World Title to Sheamus in 18 seconds at WrestleMania is what is going to "devalue" a title. John Cena has nothing to do with this, folks.
Even as the self-proclaimed "Biggest John Cena Fan In The IWC", I can say there needs to be some changes to the way Cena is booked from here until he retires. He can't go back to being in every title match at every pay-per-view. He just can't. There needs to be a healthy balance between having him in the title picture, having him help to elevate new names and having him in big time "dream match" scenarios. If the company feels the need to place the WWE/World Title back on him, he needs to drop it to someone that could use that rub. Dropping it to, say, Randy Orton doesn't help anyone or anything. The company needs to start looking towards the future, and the next few "waves" of top-tier talent. Again, though.. the piss-poor track record of the Creative Team in recent years is the subject of another column for another day.
I asked you for your serious opinion on something earlier, but now, ReaderLand, I'm asking you for your opinion on something that is open for some humor, if you see fit..
What do you want to see done with John Cena's booking between now and the end of his career?
If you want him to win the WWE Title on the next episode of Raw and hold it for 10 consecutive years, say so. If you want him to retire on the next episode of Raw, and never be seen again, say so. Anything in between, say so. I'm just curious to see how many people agree with what I've said in this column. Either way, holla at ya boy and let me know what's on your mind.