John Cena is one the most controversial character in WWE history. The “Let’s go Cena! Cena sucks!” chants have been ringing in WWE arenas for years now, and the officials have recognized this fact by integrating it into storylines and even making a T-Shirt out of it.
The much needed heel turn has been one of the most discussed topic among the IWC for a long time, and I will join the debate today by saying that Cena winning the WWE Championship at WrestleMania against the Rock is the best way to do it.
However, the heel turn I am suggesting should not be the final aim, it should only be a mean to make Cena into a true babyface, with a human aspect and an elaborate character that does not only rely on “Hey, I’m the good guy! You’re the bad guy? How about a bad pun to make you angry?”
What I am suggesting is something that WWE tried to accomplish with the infamous “Embrace the hate” storyline. I guess we all remember the “angry constipated Cena face”.
At first, this angle with Kane, Ryder and Eve had the potential to be a phenomenal story, with actual character development that would have changed Cena and drastically renewed his stale character. Unfortunately, it changed nothing and it all went to waste, with the additional bonus of burying Zack Ryder’s career deep into the ground, with three tons of concrete to make sure he never leaves his tomb.
At the time, Cena was in a high position, awaiting his match against the Rock at the main event of WrestleMania. He was considered as the best of his era, only to be challenged by the Rock. What happened to Zack Ryder wasn’t his fault, but he felt guilty and tried to right the wrongs.
But in the end, Cena didn’t care about Zack Ryder. He only cared about his revenge on Kane, and once he accomplished it, it was all good in Cena’s Wonderland, he was moving on to the Rock and poor Zack Ryder lost all relevance.
As far as Cena’s character was concerned, there was no redeeming value, nothing changed for him, and WWE dropped the ball here. Cena vs Kane was a filler feud, but it could have been a great rivalry that would have given Cena a new spirit and a new fire to face The Rock.
The Embrace the hate storyline had all the tools to become a Greek Tragedy. I kow what you are thinking, what is the point of talking about that? Well, a Greek tragedy is one of the the most ancient ways to tell a story and which format has proven to be effective and endured the test of time. Furthermore, the way professional wrestling tells a story has a lot to do with how it was in ancient times, so trying to recreate Greek tragedies that used to be played in arenas can lead nowadays to a modern and successful story with a strong pattern every fan can relate to.
I won’t get into the details, but a Greek tragedy requires three main aspects:
2. His actions don’t have to be bad or evil, they don’t even have to be his fault, as he is judged only on his actions (he actually kissed Eve, and it was because of him that Ryder was attacked). In an actual Greek Tragedy, that part is often due to the wrath or jealousy of a God, or because of his fate.
3. The main character feels a violent remorse that leaves him pathetic and broken.
As you can see, the feud with Kane lacked only the final aspect, but it was the most crucial one, the one that determines the fate of the main character and that gives a sense to the entire story.
A Cena win at WrestleMania 29 is the perfect set up for the Greek tragedy to happen, and it is even a better condition than with Kane. This time, Cena will be the WWE champion after having defeated The Rock, the man who called himself the best ever and backed it up at last year’s WrestleMania.
After defeating The Rock a second time at Extreme Rules in their rematch, Cena will become the undisputed best wrestler on the roster, setting him up for his downfall.
Cena will go on an undefeated streak, thinking he became once again unbeatable. He will engage in a new relationship, echoing his divorce. His new life will be perfect.
Little by little, he will become so sure of his strength that he will try to push other wrestlers, use his influence to help them, to make him feel even better about himself. He will try so hard that it will lead to the end of one of his friends career. For instance, that friend could be Bo Dallas, as he is a young face with a similar gimmick to John Cena (never give up, don’t feel the pain). Even though I’m not his biggest fan, it could help him develop and come back with a better gimmick.
At first, after the accident, nothing will be different, but we will see that Cena has become a little more intense in his matches, a little more brutal. At one point in time, Cena will learn that something bad happened to Bo Dallas who turned into a sadistic heel who hurts many other wrestlers, and Cena will begin to feel guilty, a little more every day. The more he will try to help him, the more damage he will cause.
There is one human emotion that can make a man change: guilt. When one is eaten by guilt and remorse, one becomes pathetic and broken. That is how Cena can turn heel effectively by letting his anger dominate him. He will end up snapping at some random heel, crushing him relentlessly. He will try to forget his guilt by hurting other people, again and again.
That is how Cena can become a new babyface, by overcoming his guilt and finally accepting his failures. That is how Cena’s character can be revamped and be turned into a new full-fledged babyface that will be loved by every fan. Something or someone will be a trigger in Cena’s mind – like a Championship loss for example -that will make him realize what he has been doing all this time, and he will begin to work on himself. We will see the evolution week after week and after some time, he will have become a new Cena. That scenario even allows him to go from face to tweener every time he needs it, as the damage of his downfall will still be present.
That is how WWE can organise the rebirth of the character Cena, all of this starting at WrestleMania 29.