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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - John Cena and the Shield... Can Roman Reigns Replace Cena as #1 Guy?
By Mr. Tito
Jun 10, 2014 - 2:52:28 PM
The "Excellence in Column Writing" is back... For the past few months, I've posted columns immediately after Monday Night RAW. But last night, I didn't have it in me. Burned out from lots of traveling during the day and the show was just "meh" to me. Zero motivation to write a quasi-show review on RAW, which I've done for years and years. Plus, as you may have saw last week with my Seth Rollins/Shield column, it's sometimes better to put some time between RAW and posting a column. Instant reaction isn't always favorable, although I trust my instincts more than others on anything I say or post.
Many online are grumbling about John Cena teaming up with the remaining 2 members of the Shield, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns. The "Internet Wrestling Community" (IWC) has a raging jealousy and hatred for John Cena because he's successful and is the WWE's corporate puppet. Since 2005, the WWE has booked John Cena like Hulk Hogan with the babyface who can do no wrong and is booked strongly to protect that. I can understand the frustration about Cena to a degree, but I also get that he's a GOOD wrestler and that he's lacked anyone on the heel side to be a good dance partner. The best he ever had was CM Punk in 2011 and the WWE quickly buried that rising star. Cena put Daniel Bryan over 100% clean at SummerSlam 2013 and that gets overlooked to this day...
But the Shield are still babyfaces and if they are going to become high profile babyfaces, shouldn't they hang with the best of the best? Facts show that John Cena is the #1 merchandise seller and he's a proven houseshow draw (as compared to shows he's not on). Can't deny it... The IWC should look at it from a different perspective... Maybe hanging out with the Shield could improve John Cena? What made the Shield great was that they had an edge and were cool. What has John Cena lacked since the "Thug Life" days? An edge (the wrestler, too) and the cool factor. He's become Hulk Hogan instead, with the Attitude Adjustment becoming the new Legdrop. Still, he's the #1 babyface... You cannot just have him wrestling the Wyatt family forever while he completely ignores the Authority.
Did you see that segment with Stephanie last week? John Cena completely ripped her and was allowed to rip her. Daniel Bryan's scripted lines against Stephanie, however, made him out to be intimidated by a female because WWE Management (Triple H, Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon) legitimately doesn't want Daniel Bryan as their top star. We've seen loads of evidence supporting that since SummerSlam 2013. The WWE fans forced Creative's hand to rewrite Wrestlemania 30 despite attempts to bury Bryan within the Wyatt family. But the fans stood up and with Batista busting hard after his debut, the WWE went with the hot hand to "save" Wrestlemania 30. What did we get AFTER Wrestlemania 30? RUNNING AWAY FROM KANE!. What did we see last week in contrast from John Cena? John Cena ripped Stephanie and then stood up to Kane. Big difference.
And you'll NEVER and I mean NEVER hear Stephanie/Triple H refer to John Cena as a "B+ Player". They've done that repeatedly since SummerSlam 2013 to Bryan and they ripped him to shreds on RAW last night. If you believe that it's all part of a storyline to keep building Bryan up, you're crazy. He won the WWE Title at Wrestlemania 30 and yet he (a) feuds with Kane, (b) is intimidated by Stephanie McMahon, and (c) is repeatedly referred to as a "B+ Player" and Triple H's comments are complete bullshit with the way he suggests that guys like Orton/Batista are great because they don't get injured. That's hilarious... When has either guy received a pop like Daniel Bryan or have EVER been #2 on the merchandise sales behind only John Cena?
But Cena is protected and my point is with the Shield hanging out with Cena, they'll be protected too. Just look at the Usos. They've fared pretty well with the John Cena rub and might be more over as babyfaces. They got over with their involvement in the Wyatt Family feud and they've come out of it with more recognition. Both Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns need more work, in my opinion, at being babyfaces. Especially Roman Reigns. WWE management is reportedly high on the guy because (a) he's a hoss and (b) he's related to the Rock which will create forever good will with the Rock to return. That's completely ignoring how talented that Dean Ambrose might actually be and ditto for Seth Rollins, now a heel. Reigns is assumed to be the standout guy of the group but his matches, personality, and mic work say otherwise. He has a long way to go.
Speaking of John Cena... By having Roman Reigns work with Cena, the WWE could begin the process of possibly grooming Reigns to take over for Cena. That's a distinct possibility and possibly why the WWE might pair the remaining Shield members with John Cena for the time being. You learn from the best...
In my opinion, and I hope to be really wrong on this statement... Nobody on the current WWE roster could replace John Cena.
Ouch, I know, that really hurts to read. But it's the truth. During late 2003, for example, you could really see the potential of John Cena. He was starting to really get over with his "Thug Life" gimmick and he was getting babyface pops despite being a heel at the time. Furthermore, he was significantly improving in the ring. He was becoming the complete package of a pro wrestler that by 2004, you could clearly see that WWE management was grooming him to become the guy who would help carry the WWE after many stars left during 2004 (Austin, Rock, Foley, Lesnar, Goldberg). Think about Smackdown in 2004... Brock Lesnar just walked out of the company and yet you had this midcarder who kept the interest alive in that show. Then, the WWE killed Smackdown by moving John Cena to RAW in 2005 after Cena won the WWE Title at Wrestlemania 21.
On the roster right now, I just don't see that guy. Roman Reigns, as discussed above, has many issues in becoming THE GUY. For one, zero personality. The biggest draws in the business had some sort of personality that was engaging with the fans. Hogan, Savage, Flair, Rock, Austin, and John Cena. All of them have loads of personality that connect with fans even when those wrestlers aren't wrestling. Reigns is reliant 100% on the in-ring stuff, which in my opinion, isn't good on his own. He's had several Main Event opportunities as a singles wrestler and it has fell short. Until he greatly improves in all areas as a wrestler, it could be a major mistake to push Reigns as the top star.
In my opinion, more potential might reside in Bray Wyatt. Tons of personality and very good in the ring. My only criticism of him is the WWE pushing him too fast... That's it, folks. He has it with maybe only "look" holding him back. With due respect to him and maybe it's the Wyatt gimmick he's currently employing, but he looks like a guy they picked up at a truckstop. He doesn't have that clean cut look as other main event guys mentioned (Hogan, Austin, Rock, Savage, Flair, Cena), but maybe with time and our culture changing, it might work. But this kid definitely has the in-ring talent that both his dad (Mike Rotunda) and his uncle (Barry Windham) had, but amazing to me, he has better personality than both combined.
Sorry, but his brother Bo Dallas doesn't have it... Lack of persoanlity and the in-ring work isn't there yet (though he looks like Barry Windham). Bo Dallas is still new to the WWE roster, so I may be proven wrong with time.
I really like Luke Harper. Great size, good worker, and good talker. But like Wyatt, will the "look" harm him and unique to Harper, how easily could he break out of the Wyatt Family gimmick and become something else? I'm not sure on Eric Rowan, but honestly haven't seen much of his work outside of the Wyatt Family gimmick. Even with the Wyatt family with the full body suit and the shaved head/long beard, he has the weakest marketable look of the 3 Wyatts.
I'm a big fan of Cesaro, but I don't think he has the mainstream appeal that could carry the company as the #1 guy. GREAT wrestler, though... But we haven't seen much personality from the "King of Swing" and it almost seems like the WWE put Paul Heyman with him as a crutch. Heyman's addition, however, has confused what Cesaro is... Through Wrestlemania 30, it was apparent that Cesaro was becoming a face but then Heyman joins him. Meanwhile, Heyman does Cesaro no favors by repeatedly praising Brock Lesnar for beating the Undertaker during Cesaro's segments.
Speaking of Brock Lesnar, he's an equal to John Cena's star power but he's a part-time performer. Problem with Lesnar is that based on his UFC winnings, it's almost a joke to see anybody defeat him in the squared circle. Plus, he's getting older and will have net about $15 million from his 3 years with the WWE. Retirement from pro wrestling is probably occurring after Wrestlemania 30.
While on the subject of unstoppable monsters, Rusev does have potential. He's big, strong, and seems agile on his feet. In my opinion, he shares the same problem as Bray Wyatt upon his debut. The WWE booking, not the wrestler themselves, is telling you that Rusev is great. Why would a wrestler suffer through the NXT process when they are so good that they can beat anybody on the WWE roster? Psychology is WAY OFF for Rusev who is getting a strong push yet he hasn't proven a damn thing as a draw. The anti-American, pro-Russian gimmick worked in the 1980's but doesn't now. Plus, having a hot chick named Lana as your manager will never get heat. He needs a male manager who can act like a Russian official but a raging dick on the microphone, like a Russian version of Zeb Colter. Potential is there with Rusev, but the overpushing could hurt him.
If Batista and Randy Orton haven't become the #1 stars of the company with the many opportunities handed to each wrestler on a silver platter, I don't know what will. Seems like we've watched Randy Orton for years but the guy still pretty young. Batista is old and tired, however, and the WWE made a big mistake by having him win Royal Rumble 2014 and trying to push him instantly towards the WWE Title. Ship has sailed with Batista and Randy Orton needs an attitude change if he could ever recapture any #1 potential he may have had. Completely unemotional in the ring despite having better in-ring ability than most.
Wade Barrett could be that guy, but you can't do stupid things to him like having the United States Champion beat him cleanly on a free televised match on RAW. That's ridiculous... Barrett has the personality, improved mic skills with the new gimmick, and his in-ring ability is starting to click. He MIGHT be the guy that the WWE needs, although he might be better served as a heel.
While on the subject of Barrett losing last night, Sheamus remains a mystery to me. Great wrestler, great size, and decent fan connection... Problem is that the WWE have exhausted him, booking wise, for the past 5 years. WWE has overpushed the guy and then turn around to squash him when minds change. But you cannot deny ability with this guy. The tools are there with Sheamus but the booking damage has been done. Might take over a year to repair his image with the fans.
Same situation with Alberto Del Rio. Tons of talent both in and out of the ring, but the WWE Creative Team overpushed the guy or pushed him when the timing wasn't right. The damage from 2011 when he interrupted "Summer of Punk" might not be easily reversed. He should have stayed on Smackdown and kept growing as a World Heavyweight Championship contender. Instead, the WWE moved him to RAW during 2011 with the intent on becoming WWE Champion by SummerSlam 2011. BIG MISTAKE and WWE might lose him to burn out here shortly when his contract expires in the near future.
Dolph Ziggler doesn't have it. Sorry folks... He's John Morrison all over again. Incredible in-ring ability but nothing else to market beyond that. Zero personality to market in attempts to connect with fans and I don't see much effort by Ziggler to improve in that area. Bad mouthing the WWE and other wrestlers on non-WWE media outlets doesn't help, either.
Big E Langston has many years of development to go. I thought his matches with Cesaro really exposed him, as Cesaro has a more methodical style that doesn't mesh with Big E who wrestles like a 1980's hoss wrestler. Might actually need to reduce his muscle mass to get a little faster...
Fandango? Adam Rose? LOL, nope... Undersized with goofy gimmicks that they won't be able to shake long-term. Now, as a tag team...
I like Drew McIntyre from 3 Man Band, but damn the booking damage has been done. How can you lose to a wrestler less than half of your size???
I don't see it with Cody Rhodes. Seems undersized (though he's the right height) and just doesn't have that Main Event look unless something changes. Needs a character enhancement. His former partner, Damien Sandow, is being made into a comedic joke right now. After he had a great match with John Cena, the WWE has practically wasted the guy. What a shame. Miz just isn't improving whatsoever and the WWE really tried with that guy through Wrestlemania 27.
Ryback and Curtis Axel could still turn it around, but it's all up to them. Both have individually busted because of the lack of improvements they refuse to make in the ring and with their characters. Ryback needs to become a safer wrestler, too.
BAD heel turn for Titus O'Neil. Should have kept the Prime Time Players together longer and let them have a World Tag Title run. Get over as a tag team and then branch out as singles. Instead, the WWE turned O'Neil heel for no reason. I just haven't seem much from O'Neil to prove that he's a good worker who could carry a match at the top of a card.
Ships have long sailed on Kane, Christian, and Mark Henry. Not sure what the obsession is on Kane to be booked strong against Daniel Bryan, but the WWE must own that now since Daniel Bryan is out. Kane is too old and like Henry/Christian, we've been watching the guy since the late 1990's. If they haven't figured out how to become a top draw in over 15 years, they never will. Undertaker is done, too, and Triple H has bigger priorities than being the top guy in the WWE. Stick a fork in the Attitude Era. And don't let the Rock come back and embarrass himself in the ring, either.
Seth Rollins made incredible strides with his character as a babyface member of the Shield. In my opinion, he's at least jumped over Dean Ambrose on the Shield depth chart in terms of climbing the WWE ladder. I'll personally take him over Roman Reigns, but that's more of personal taste and how underwhelming Reigns has been. Rollins, in my opinion, needs to learn from Daniel Bryan's recent issues and injury. Get bigger and stronger while taking less risk in the ring. Seems a bit thin to impress the bodybuilding fans in Triple H and Vince McMahon and he takes too many risks in the ring. If he does enough improve his look and reduce his in-ring risk, he could be a big star. Again, he did the intangible thing of working on his character to complement his in-ring ability.
I'm just not sure on Dean Ambrose. Lots of hype from the Internets coming in but he has been a tad underwhelming in the ring for singles matches. In fact, Seth Rollins has become what I expected Ambrose to become. He has the look of a diabolical heel but I don't know how he could fair as a babyface long-term. I just need to see more individual efforts by Ambrose as opposed to just complementing a team.
And finally... Daniel Bryan. I honestly don't know. While I'll agree in some aspects that his short size harms him, I'll disagree in the sense that he's been booked poorly by WWE Management. Imagine if Bryan was pushed strong as a champion? Instead of getting Kane after Wrestlemania 30, imagine if he fought Randy Orton after Wrestlemania 30 and beat him cleanly. Then beat Batista cleanly. And then sought revenge on Bray Wyatt. Much different outlook on Bryan as he would then easily overcome that "B+ Player" bullshit that HHH/Stephanie label him. The booking after Wrestlemania 30 has long-term damage implications that could add to Bryan's neck injury which may limit him significantly. Ship may have sailed...
In truth, John Cena's replacement as top WWE star might not be here yet... He could be in the WWE Developmental system or might be about to join. He could be a disgruntled TNA or Ring of Honor Wrestler who has yet to be burned and could have a chip on their shoulder when they join WWE. Don't forget that WCW took Triple H, Steve Austin, the Undertaker, and Mick Foley for granted. What did WWE do? Gave them opportunity and let them become huge stars. Hulk Hogan, too... AWA let him go in 1983 and WWE gladly signed him away. He (or even she) could still be out there, waiting to join the WWE. In the meantime, time is running out on John Cena. He's getting older and the injury bug could strike at any time.
The real question is if the newly promoted Executive named Triple H can recognize the next top drawing talent and develop him properly. Lots of money is invested in the WWE's developmental system and he's attempting to look up unique avenues to obtain talent (including creating many from the ground up). Several investors, however, question whether Triple H (and Stephanie) can properly run the pro wrestling business in Vince's absence. If Triple H can find the "next John Cena" or someone in the light of being a top babyface draw, HHH can shut many critics up and prove that he's a worthy successor to Vince McMahon.
SO JUST CHILL... 'TIL THE NEXT EPISODE!
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