Thursday, August 18, 2011

Designed Hypocrisy: Does Cena's Promo at the End of RAW Have Deeper Meaning?

Was Cena's lack of perspective intentional Monday?
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The final scene on RAW was indelible to say the least. Alberto del Rio locked his rival, Rey Mysterio, in the cross armbreaker after his successful title defense, and he would not let go. John Cena came to Mysterio's aid and then cut the angriest promo I've seen from him in the three years that I've been back watching. He looked pissed off, not because del Rio wronged him, but because del Rio wronged the Championship. He preyed on CM Punk moments after a hard fought victory and a sneak attack from Kevin Nash, and he didn't act honorably. On the surface, without any context, this makes sense. Cena's character is about hustle, loyalty and respect, and del Rio showed none.

The truth is, neither did Cena.

Go back to the RAW where Justin Roberts proclaimed "JEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHN CENA" as the new WWE Champion after defeating Mysterio. The diminutive San Diegan was wrestling in his fourth match in two weeks. He had wrestled a grueling match against The Miz, a former Champion himself, earlier in the program. The major difference between the two is that del Rio seized his own opportunity, while Cena had it handed to him by Triple H.

That may make all the difference in the world, but at the same time, refusing a title shot isn't really out of the realm of character for someone if the storyline called for it. Hell, CM Punk, the guy who was "wronged" by del Rio, forewent his rematch to chase Kevin Nash and try to uncover conspiracies that would keep him from attaining his deserved prize as "Best in the World". So, why couldn't Cena forego his title shot for one more week to get Mysterio at his best if that's the way he'd conveniently feel after seeing Punk get jobbed out of the title?

Some may point to internal inconsistencies, and I agree that with WWE Creative, as well as they've been doing lately, that's always a possibility. That being said, WWE Creative is doing pretty well for themselves lately, at least on the main event level, so maybe they do deserve some benefit of the doubt here. Maybe Cena's reaction was carefully planned to foreshadow a change in alignment.

Yes, the ultimate white whale of the Internet fan is a John Cena heel turn. Ever since he became a fan favorite, the cries have come it seems, and it always has seemed like a bad idea. He sold too much merch. He's too much of a house show draw. He gets too loud a reaction from the children, whereas no one else but the increasingly fragile Rey Mysterio would get. Plain and simple, it would have been bad business, even if it would have been better TV for folks who make up a small portion of the audience.

That being said, the appearance of Punk, and possibly even Miz, as suitors to the role of top hero make Cena as a bad guy increasingly tempting and viable. Of course, neither Miz nor Punk appeal to a family-oriented crowd as they stand right now, which to me would still call into question the wisdom of turning Cena heel. Having one kind of top hero, or appealing to only one audience, can be a good plan of action if you can clean up in that one area. That being said, if you can have versatility in direction, then why not try to aim for more than one demographic? Pixar has been doing this for years, loading up its movies with clever, adult-oriented humor that was well-hidden within the aimed-for-children stories and trappings.

But I'm not really here to judge whether it's a good idea, just to speculate as to whether this could be a deliberate shift in direction for Cena. One of the great parts about programming right now is that it's unpredictable. Just when you think you have the answers, they change the questions. Whether we'll see the same ol' Cena going forward or not is now more than ever not certain, and I think the promo on Monday, whether it telegraphs a change in character or not for Cena, was intentionally crafted that way to cause doubt, to bring more than just Cena, Punk and the McMahon-Helmsley ruling house into the, as David Shoemaker terms it, The Reality Era.

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