Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Mercy Side: We Need To Talk About John (Cena)

Hey everyone, I hope you’re enjoying munching on whatever food you’re munching on while you’re reading this. What, am I being stereotypical? Maybe. But you are eating aren’t you!

Anyhoo, the title of this article is a pun on the award winning book by Lionel Shriver that’s soon to be made into a film. But it is true, we do need to talk about John, John Cena that is. What other John would we be talking about? John Morrison? Well he is being depushed as he’s been spending too much time in Relationshipville in the eyes of the WWE.

No, this is an article about John Cena, and most particularly the promo he did on Monday. Now everyone involved in that promo played a decent part, John Laurinaitis, Triple H, most certainly CM Punk, but Cena impressed me most. I mean, CM Punk had the funny lines, he was possibly the best on the mic overall. But not for the first time, Cena was impressive here. He really is underrated on the mic. When given the platform to be himself, to talk on the spot, he can be quite incredible. In recent memory Cena has only done another promo like the one on Monday, and that was when he finally had his face to face promo with The Rock pre-Wrestlemania. What do the two promos have in common? Well naturally, The Rock was part of both. But… what both promos have in common is John Cena in both scenarios was verbally backed to a wall, and was put on the spot to answer to his critic(s). Let’s analyse the two first.
In the pre-Wrestlemania promo, The Rock had been calling him out for some time about comments Cena initially made to the commitment The Rock lacked to the wrestling company. Cena was mocked because of his wrestling attire, his appeal to children and his love of rap music amongst other things. John Cena responded by confirming that his target audience is kids and he says “he’s damn proud of it”. John Cena says that he has worked hard to get to where he is and is there live every week, and says, straight in the eyes of The Rock - “Who are you to judge me?” He’s right in a certain way, as Cena works hard all the time in the name of the WWE he shouldn’t be brought down to easily. He criticises The Rock’s “Team Bring It” slogan. The Rock dislikes rap, Cena’s target audience and his ‘colours’; basically The Rock is critical of things that someone else likes. Cena says if he has a problem with someone liking a different genre of music, dresses in a different way or talks in a different way, and that’s what “Team Bring It” is about, then The Rock “can keep the application to join because he doesn’t want to”.

He’s spot on in certain ways. The Rock bullied him to a corner about his style and appeal to children. But Cena backed up his words well. He did it with passion when he was criticised. You could see it in his face that it bothered him. But the highlight for me? Was the fact that Cena’s first words on the mic was applauding The Rock. The Rock brought his electricity; he got the fans off their feet. Cena, say what you want about him, is a huge fan of the business. You might see where I’m going with this but I want to analyse the promo from Monday as well.
Monday’s promo was a combination of CM Punk live, and a promo The Rock did on his Facebook account a few weeks ago. CM Punk introduced the video, where The Rock once again criticised Cena’s appeal to children, but more accurately, his lack of appeal to the men in the audience. He says the fact that the kids yell “Let’s go Cena” followed by men shouting “Cena sucks!” will haunt John Cena his entire life. He criticised his ring attire again. He says men don’t like Cena because he’s a phony, and they can see through the bullshit. CM Punk then spoke, agreeing with The Rock with regards to Cena being a phony. Cena then responded. He said he doesn’t understand how The Rock can have such a problem with him as he’s done it all in the WWE and is a huge movie star now. He praised The Rock for his accomplishments. CM Punk cut him off saying that he didn’t show Cena the video for him to criticise The Rock. Cena agreed and said he knew why Punk had a problem with him. Cena lists what he believes CM Punk’s problems are with him, from the the fact that Punk thinks he is “too PG” – a modern Hulk Hogan. Punk agrees with that statement. John Cena then says that regardless of what he does, he’ll never win over The Rock’s ‘millions’, nor will he win over Punk’s fans. He starts using the Internet Wrestling Community’s lingo by referring to the fact that he’ll never win them over, even if he ‘increases his work rate’, if he adds to his ‘5 moves of doom’, or if he lets his ‘heel persona’ shine through, he says he’ll never ‘win’ over certain fans. But the children that he attracts, and anyone else that like him, his target audience that he has already gathered – they’re the people he cares about. He wants to entertain them, and please the fans who have been there for him through thick and thin. He said he hated the fact that CM Punk called him the WWE equivalent of the New York Yankees, but that after thinking about it, he was spot on. He appreciates that loads of people love him and loads of people hate him, so it’s a good comparison. He says there’s nothing phony about his love for his target audience.

I brought these two promos up because of the fact that Cena, in both scenarios, backs up his television character up incredibly well. Everyone is going on about CM Punk and the potential new ‘reality era’ that may be upon us.  But the promo Cena did with The Rock back in March was as real as the one this week. CM Punk might be the new leader of the potential new era, but he didn’t start this all off. The Cena/Rock altercations have been real, and they are in theory what started everything off. Cena’s two promos were as real as anything CM Punk has been doing recently. He’s really good on the mic when he’s talking like this. I really hope that if this new ‘era’ is kicking off, that Cena won’t be doing those annoying scripted promos anymore, and his character takes a turn to this slightly harder edged face it currently has. Cena’s character has been stale for sometime and if there’s no heel turn imminent (which is still an unlikely possibility at Summerslam), this tweak in his character will do him the world of good.

But do you know what I loved most about Cena on Monday? His body language and facial reactions. You can say what you want about John Cena but I’m a huge believer that he fucking loves this business, arguably as much as anyone. He loved The Rock’s promos dissing him all the weeks before Wrestlemania. His on screen character and parts of his real life persona had to respond in a professional manner, but truth his, he was ENTERTAINED by them. And he said on Monday too. He was ENTERTAINED by CM Punk’s promo. He said it verbally, but you could see it in his body language. He kept laughing at CM Punk’s jokes, about Cena, and about other things. He loved it. He fed off how great Punk’s promo was, and commended him at the end for it. And he wasn’t in character when he did, trust me. He thought Punk’s promo was fantastic. I remember the first promo The Rock did upon his return. Cena responded in the form of rap the week afterwards. But Cena said before he ‘went down to business’ that he was “just going to let it slide – it’s The Rock! It’s what he does!” I honestly felt John Cena would have let it slide if he had a choice. His on screen character couldn’t, otherwise Cena’s character would have seen as a coward. So he had to respond, and did. But you can see the WWE fan in Cena. He says he’s a fan in his promos all the time, but that’s reality as well. He’s just like all the fans who come to see the WWE perform, just doing it himself.
John Cena is a great human being. He really is. Yes his ‘five moves of doom’ annoy me as much as the next person, and I do think he needs to let his ‘heel persona’ take over, as Cena as a heel was what got him his worldwide fame in the first place. It’d also be fresh at this point, as he hasn’t done it for a good 6 years. But John needs to stop being that modern ‘Hulk Hogan’ – that’s what needs to change. John Cena is not a phony, but it’s slightly hypocritical to this moral beam of greatness. Cena’s character at present is that he respects every opponent, loves the fans with all his heart, and he works hard every day to reach his goals. This routine worked in the eighties perfectly with Hulk Hogan. But certain fans, the ‘men’ as The Rock puts it, hate that old school routine. And why? Simple answer really is because it’s not reality. And if this new reality era does come into full force, that Cena needs to die (metaphorically of course). The John Cena we saw on Monday, the one we saw in March before Wrestlemania, where Cena can answer his critics and accept that he is human, instead of a superhero, needs to start fleshing out. He accepted that he’ll never win over every fan and that for me is great.

Not all wrestlers can appeal to all fan bases, there’s just too many diverse fans to even contemplate it. Yet you always had the feeling Cena did, he tried to reach out to everyone, and that in itself annoyed the ‘IWC’, or smarks as they’re also known as. There are the casual fans, the ones who like to see the shows live and love the spectacle of the event. These fans like to see these larger than life superstars tussle and cheer on the good guys and boo the bad guys. These fans tend to be fans of Cena. There’s the fans who love promos but aren’t too bothered about the in-ring action. A lot of these fans love The Rock. Then you have the small percentage of fans who love the in-ring action, the technical ability of certain wrestlers, who can do unique wrestling holds and do moves that not many others can. A lot of these fans love CM Punk. The smark fans love a complete wrestler who can talk on the mic AND deliver in the ring. These fans tend to like CM Punk and Chris Jericho most, but dislike John Cena. These are the fans that Cena is referring to.

There was a point where people didn’t think Cena even acknowledged these fans, they wondered if he ever read the online reports and the dirtsheets that he is often criticised in. Well you got your answer on Monday, and he responded to you and I. And for that I’m happy. I’m happy with his answer. And I think if Cena tweaks his character to have the edge, the passion and the natural ability to deliver a composed response on a microphone on the spot, and he uses these skills in a new ‘era’ where reality and wrestling entwine, I think John Cena will slowly but surely start to win over the fans he thinks will never like or respect him. Thanks for reading and have a good day.

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