|I bet there are a few ex-WWEers who wish they were Cena here|
Photo Credit: WWE.com
However, it takes two to tango as the old cliche goes. John Cena proved last night that he was a more than able foil for Punk's star turn. How did he do it? Why was Cena so valuable last night? It's because he did what he does best. He did the right thing, both in character and out of it.
Cena gets a lot of crap for various reasons, but one of the biggest reasons why I admire and respect him is because he embraces the crap and knows when to play the role that works for the situation best. The guy goes out and poses for pictures with his haters. He smiles and laughs when the men chant "Cena sucks! Cena sucks!" He's as aware and accepting of those who hate him as he is appreciative of those who cheer for him. Last night, he could have gone into business for himself. He could have gone out there, played to the crowd, did all his babyface spots with the same vigor and worked the match like the year was 2008 and the opponent was Randy Orton.
But he didn't.
He worked the match with a businesslike grimness, like he knew he was on hostile ground and that he was the villain to a good 85% of the crowd at the very least. He didn't do anything specifically indicative of a rulebreaker, but there was a chip on his shoulder, a chip that is usually found on the bad guy rather than the underdog good guy. If you don't want to praise him for it, and if you want to say he was doing his job, then fine, but I guaran-damn-tee you that if the opposite happened and Cena wasn't so good-humored, those who would poo-poo this would probably also fly into a rage attacking the man.
Of course, that's just the out-of-character trappings. In character, when Cena was called upon to do the right thing, it led directly into the finish of the match. When Cena is the lawful good white knight, he's at his best, at least as a babyface. Last night, letting go of the STF to cut off Johnny Ace, he showed that winning wasn't as important if it was going to be tainted. For as many problems as I've had with Cena doing shit like dropping chairs on Wade Barrett after he had brutally defeated him in a chairs match or cracking wise on the homosexual community, I absolutely think he's a brilliant character when he does the right thing.
And from all standpoints last night, Cena was brilliant because he did the right thing in every situation. Variety of character is a wonderful thing, as I've written a million times. Orton going apeshit on Christian after losing the World Heavyweight Championship on a disqualification worked. Why? Because Orton's brooding antihero, a guy cheered in spite of his bad attitude, someone who works best as a nihilistic wrecking ball who does what he wants, when he wants it. If Cena were the exact same character as Orton, then things would get boring. Orton is Deathstroke. CM Punk is Batman. Cena is Superman.
As long as the characters stay in their defined roles and have the necessary changes come about in meaningful ways that play to their strengths, then things will be good. Cena played to his strengths last night, and as a result, it enhanced the CM Punk Show tenfold. When people look back on this moment in time, they'll definitely be talking about Punk, but they'll also be talking about Cena, how he was the perfect foil for Punk at this moment.
And it's all because he did the right thing.