First off, I want to state that I am not by any means a John Cena hater. I’m quite the opposite. I enjoy the man’s work and consider him one of the all-time greats. Any criticisms I’m about to discuss are in regards to the way the John Cena character was handled on last night’s episode of Monday Night Raw.
I think it is a mistake to have Cena kiss the fans’ butts after they boo him. For those that missed last night’s episode, Cena came out to a lot of heat from the English crowd. The “John Cena sucks” sing-a-long with his entrance music was louder than usual. Cena then proceeded to put over the crowd. He mentioned how they are one of the best crowds in the WWE Universe, even though they don’t always “see eye to eye.” He finished off the public suck-up fest by saying that he thinks London deserves to host WrestleMania.
WWE has had Cena do this before in several U.S. cities when he enters to a chorus of boos. I think it is cringeworthy and makes him look weak. It is comparable to a child laughing at the schoolyard bully’s jokes hoping that he can avoid a beatdown for the day. Wrestling fans do not like suck ups. The reason they boo Cena in the first place is because they have grown tired of the kid-friendly, goody-two-shoes character. Having him come out and basically say “please don’t boo me, I think you should have WrestleMania!” is just going to irritate the WWE Universe as a whole even further.
In contrast, let’s look at how the WWE had Roman Reigns handle the boos last night. Instead of kissing their rear ends, Roman laid out that he did to Brock Lesnar exactly what he said he would do. There was no “the fans pay for a ticket, I respect their opinion” speech. He just put over his accomplishments at WrestleMania. Cena would have benefited from doing something along these lines.
Most people think the ultimate cure for Cena at this point is to turn him heel. I slightly disagree. No matter your opinion on the character, it would be silly to lose the merchandise sales they gain from children on Cena’s gear. What they need to do is keep him exactly the same for the children, but at the same time tell the older fans to stick it. The crowd is split on him anyway so I think it is a no-brainer to play to that. Would Cena not get a great reaction if he came out and said something like “I will always be a hero to these children out here. If you older fans don’t like it then you can go watch your Attitude Era on the WWE Network. I’m not going anywhere, and I’m not changing myself to earn your meaningless praise. You can’t afford to buy my t-shirts anyway.”
John Cena is too good of a performer to have to suck up to the fans each night. WWE needs to change their creative gameplan in an effort to make him more relevant than ever. I believe acting two different ways to the divided crowd would achieve this.
Follow Jeff on Twitter: @JeffLane22