The Cena Rules

Nick Paglino

John Cena“You can get a big push in WWE…if you’re a heel. No one else will ever be pushed as the No. 1 babyface as long as Cena’s there. Punk understands that. It’s why he was so willing to turn.” – anonymous WWE superstar.

I never thought about that. But it’s true. Damn true.


Does John Cena have such a death grip on kids, merchandising and what WWE wants to portray in a babyface that he can NEVER lose that spot? Does Cena motivate turns (to some degree) out of performer frustration?

Let’s note that Punk (or whoever) can’t just ELECT to turn heel. That’s VKM’s call.

But in terms of backstage discontent with Cena’s nailed-on status, that only figures to grow between now and WrestleMania.

Undertaker-Lesnar seems obvious for Mania. The streak meets reality. By that time, Brock’s transition back into fake wrestler should be complete, thus making Taker’s win a bit more believable. (But maybe not. Did you see Taker at Raw #1,000? Did he look like a feasible threat to Lesnar?)

The other rumored main event at Mania: Rock-Cena II. Rock loses the title to Cena because WWE booking is all about stars trading wins. Everyone ends up at .500.

It should be Punk-Rock. (With John Lydon as guest referee.) Punk has spent ages cultivating a rivalry with Rock. He turned heel on Rock. He used the Rock Bottom on Jerry Lawler. At least, I think he did. The announcers failed to mention it.

Punk will wrestle Rock at Royal Rumble or some lesser PPV by way of dropping the strap to set up Rock-Cena II at Mania. Punk-Rock at Royal Rumble won’t have the pomp, or the gravitas, and it certainly won’t have a Mania-level payoff for Punk.

It doesn’t seem right. Then again, this isn’t about what anybody DESERVES. It’s about what’s BEST FOR BUSINESS.

I’m not knocking Cena. He’s very good, and has maintained and developed his character under some very difficult live circumstances.

But unless it involves Taker and his Mania win streak, everything of true significance in WWE must go through Cena. The dedication thereof is reminiscent of Hogan or Sammartino. Is Cena really that good? Is he really THAT OVER?

I’d feel sorry for Punk, but I’m no mark and neither is he. Punk makes good coin, he’s a featured performer and has lots of control over what he does.

I’m not saying any babyfaces should be featured over Cena.

But the stifling style in which Cena is kept at WWE’s pinnacle seems to put an artificial ceiling on advancement and creativity. That can’t be good for the locker room, and it might not even be good for business.

Speaking of good for business, here’s one way WWE’s social media obsession affects booking: I’m told several WWE performers have been told to not necessarily be babyface or heel, but to just go out there, play their character, and “let the fans decide.” Via the great barometer of Twitter, of course.

Hey, if I’m booking, I want paid.

Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m.weekdays on WXDX-FM, Pittsburgh, PA (105.9). Check out his web page at Contact Mark by emailing FOLLOW MARK ON TWITTER: @MarkMaddenX.

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