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John Cena. Reading or speaking the name brings about various feelings in various degrees. Love, hate, respect, despise, all in heightened or subdued expressions but there without question for one of the most important names in this age of professional wrestling. Many have their own opinions on how to book John Cena after Summer Slam and Night of Champions: Turn him heel? Finally push Cena to the side and allow new faces to emerge? For sure, the John Cena persona is in dire need of an upgrade. Keyword: Upgrade. Does this mean a heel turn? Absolutely not. John Cena is the man and he is very important for the marketability and commercial appeal the WWE is looking for. However, with all of the talk about turning Cena heel, we forget that he can be transformed into an effective babyface with the right “attitude adjustment”. It’s not his move set that people are tired of, it’s not even that he is “expected” to win. It’s the over-the-top PG persona. He has a more intense side and we’ve all seen it when he is red hot in promos. But what about a darker side that can still be portrayed as a babyface?
After WWE Night of Champions….
Brock Lesnar is victorious over John Cena, now looking ahead towards his next opponent. Paul Heyman touts the extraordinary abilities and dominance of Brock Lesnar on Raw and SmackDown, while Brock may not be at tapings due to his part time status and Paul Heyman keeping the fire burning. A new challenger emerges after winning a number 1 contender’s main event match at the October pay-per-view and claims he has the ability to stop The Beast. Weeks of back and forth banter between this superstar and Paul Heyman culminates into a match at Survivor Series. Lesnar defeats his opponent and continues his dominance.
At Raw the next night, during an in-ring promo, a figure emerges from the crowd and attacks Brock Lesnar. Clad in a black hooded zip down sweater and black skull cap, John Cena takes it to Brock Lesnar as he backs away from shock and surprise. The night ends with John Cena, with an intense look on his face, in the ring as it fades.
At next week’s Raw, The Authority demands that John Cena show himself. Through the crowd comes John Cena. Hands in his hooded sweater pockets, skull cap and no nonsense demeanor. Invited into the ring, Triple H tells Cena that the WWE Universe has not seen him in two months and he can’t just sit at home collecting paychecks and he will not tolerate attacks on other talents either. He is not the number 1 contender and must start from the bottom again. He is a contracted talent and must fulfill his contractual obligations. Tonight, after two months, John Cena returns to the ring. Without a word or any sort of acknowledgement, John Cena exits the ring and walks up the ramp to the back. Later that night, Cena comes out to his theme music, but is not the showman that he is known to be. Still wearing his hooded sweatshirt, John Cena is now also wearing black leather short and black sneakers. In the ring, removing his hooded sweater, Cena stands with no wrist/ arms bands but black taped hands. Cena loses his match via disqualification, not listening to the referee when ordered to break a five count, and continues his assault on his opponent. The attack ends after an Attitude Adjustment through the announcers table and a battle cry from Cena. Back in the ring, and with The Authority now looking on with concerned looks on the stage, John Cena stands in the ring flexed, breathing heavy and angry.
The fantasy booking until this point is a new start to the John Cena character. Not a restart, but a new start or somewhat of a reinvention with new theme music too (a John Cena original of course). Much like Sting reinvented himself into the black and white Sting we know today, this can bring about a more focused and intense John Cena. At this point, it will be up to Cena to embrace his update and reinforce the direction his character is taking. Learn new move sets, be comfortable again on the microphone with a promo that doesn’t include childish one liners but gets under the skin of his opponent through venom. From this, we can have the John Cena/ Authority feud we came to expect when he became the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and look for retribution against the man who put Brock Lesnar in his way. Defeat Triple H’s hand picked opponents and take punishment along the way outside of the ring until the buildup is complete and John Cena takes out Triple H at WrestleMania. And on that night, to close the chapter of Lesnar’s reign, John Cena stands at the top of the ramp during the main event and stares down Brock Lesnar. Lesnar, seeing Cena, mocks him only to turn around and be caught off guard by his opponent. Three seconds later, Brock Lesnar loses the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, John Cena looks to end Brock Lesnar in a final confrontation and a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion is crowned. Roman Reigns?
The Misunderstood Anti-Hero,
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