Thursday, July 28, 2011

John Cena, Imaginary Luchador: Why Bryan Alvarez Needs a Reality Check

Cena doing badly in CMLL wouldn't mean he's a bad worker
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As pointed out by my blogging peer Trey Irby on his Wrestling Theory blog, Bryan Alvarez has some pretty weird opinions about wrestling and what constitutes good wrestling. Here's the quote from Observer Radio, where he takes John Cena to task for being a bad worker, despite the fact that his colleague Dave Meltzer gave a match he was in five stars recently, an honor so rare that it's the first time it was given to a WWF/E match in almost 15 years:
Glad he did one thing well! It’s funny, because last night on this very show, we were talking about the idea of taking WWE main eventers and sending them to do a lucha style in CMLL and find out if they could ‘work.’ John Cena would be literally the worst luchadore of all time. And all those capos and whoever else who’s just horrendous workers down there, good god almighty, they’d work rings around Cena.
So, John Cena's not a good worker because if you put him in a lucha libre fed, he'd suck. There are so many fucking things wrong with that statement that it's not even funny. For one, of course Cena would falter if he went to CMLL or AAA, at least at first. It's a totally different style, based on things that are counter to what he is used to working for WWE. In case Alvarez didn't notice, the converse of that statement is being displayed right before his eyes, or at least it WAS until Sin Cara got suspended for a flunked drug test. The former Mistico was a standout down South of the Border until he came up here. His reckless style, a hit in a lucha libre promotion, made him stick out like a sore thumb in the highly American WWE, and not in a good way. The numerous botches and the sloppy execution of moves he did hit not only put him under a microscope from some of the more discerning wrestling fans, but from his bosses too. If Mistico can't get a handle on how to wrestle WWE style, which according to Alvarez is like totally not on the same level of sophistication as lucha libre, then why use Cena's theoretical lack of handling lucha libre against him, ESPECIALLY since it'd be hypothetical at best given that Cena ISN'T GOING ANYWHERE?

That would beg the issue of Alvarez's opinions that lucha libre is the superior style to the amalgam of styles that come together and meld to form the almost-as-nebulous-as-the-term-"The Internet" WWE style. I wouldn't begrudge him the opinion that lucha libre is the better style to watch. I mean, Chikara is my favorite fed of all-time, and they wrestle a hybrid puroresu-lucha libre style. I can attest to how fun lucha can be. That being said, if I were going to list my ten best matches from 2011 so far, it'd be a total mix of Chikara and WWE right about now, and not to be boastful or anything, but there would be a ton of people who would take that list and agree with it. Why? Because in my opinion, there's no real "style" that's better than another one. The only thing that is better is execution either way. There's bad lucha out there, and if you're going to tell me that the worst lucha is even better than the best John Cena has had to offer in his WWE career (a career that again, has garnered a five star match from Alvarez's colleague for Christ's sake), then I'm going to tell you that you're full of shit.

I expect this pedantic attitude from the smart-ass fans in New York or Chicago or even here in Philly who chant "You can't wrestle!" at Cena because he doesn't shove 2932374 moves into a 12 minute match, but I shouldn't expect it from one of the top two journalists reputedly in American wrestling, especially when both of them go off about psychology all the time. I mean, Cena has proven he can work a match where there's psych in play. Money in the Bank wasn't the first time, and I doubt it'll be the last either. Sure, there are times when he goes out, does the faux-Hulk Hogan take-a-beating-and-come-back-like-nothing-was-wrong routine, but how many times is that him making the call and not the agents in the back or the writers? It's how WWE operates at the main event when they've got a guy like Hogan or Cena or Undertaker (another five star match recipient) or Ultimate Warrior or even Shawn Michaels (the best worker ever according to some people) with his no-selling-tinged kip-ups.

The fact is if you take a guy from one environment and drop him in another, he'll do one of two things. He'll either change to adapt, or he'll force everyone to adapt around him. The former takes time in a lot of cases and the latter is fucking ignorant and ends up bringing the product down. Don't believe me? Ask any fan of WCW to compare the promotion before and after Hogan got there. If Cena went to CMLL or AAA and then started having bad matches right away? It doesn't make him a bad worker, it makes him human. It's the same with Sin Cara. The difference between the two is that in this magical fantasy world, where Cena leaves his godfather position in WWE to go to Mexico, where WWE is killing the crap out of traditional lucha feds, by the way, he would more than likely work on getting better, and within a couple of months, would be one of the best rudo bullies down there with maybe a high flying move or two to his repertoire. Sin Cara? Well, if the dirtsheets, like the one written by Meltzer and the other one written by Alvarez, are to be believed, he's on a fast track out of WWE not because of his working ability, but because of his bad attitude.

So in that regard, I think I'd love to see Cena go to Mexico for a year sabbatical or something. I mean, the WWE would be a bit fresher without him, even though I'd miss him in my own perverse way, but I think it'd be fucking hilarious to see him shut Alvarez up and prove to him that maybe, just maybe, he should stop being a pedantic smark and start doing his job, being a good wrestling journalist who sees things for what they are, not for what he wants them to be.

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