COLUMN: OS #21 – John Cena’s Heel Turn

Kevin McElvaney

Hey WZ readers. Thanks, once again, for reading Offbeat Shenanigans. I’d like to wish a speedy recovery to the man whose promo named this column, Lance Storm. Lance underwent a double knee scope two weeks ago, on February 21. Hope you’re feeling better, Lance!

Iâ<80><99>d also like to remind everyone that Iâ<80><99>m still looking for your votes for the Best Moments in Wrestling History. At the end of this article, Iâ<80><99>ll give more details as to how you can vote.

And now, for those of you who might be wondering, no, John Cena is not turning heel. At least, not in this writerâ<80><99>s humble opinion. No, itâ<80><99>s not some kind of â<80><9c>insideâ<80> information I have. Itâ<80><99>s simply an educated guess and because, frankly, I think WWE would be foolish to turn Cena heel at this point.

I realize that Iâ<80><99>m in the minority on this point, when it comes to the internet wrestling community. I also make this argument as someone who, as recently as a few months ago, was begging for Cena to turn heel. While I definitely canâ<80><99>t disagree on the point of Cena becoming stale, nor with the amount of booâ<80><99>s heâ<80><99>s received, I also canâ<80><99>t condone a turn at this time. Why? Well, itâ<80><99>s because of those very crowd reactions, and itâ<80><99>s also simple math.

50% + 50% = 100%.

60% + 40% = 100%.

25% + 75%, still, = 100.

“Okay, Kev, but what are you trying to prove?” Ah, hypothetical reader, thatâ<80><99>s a very good question. These are possible crowd reactions – applause and jeers, respectively – which John Cena might and probably has received. Now notice that, in every case, itâ<80><99>s a 100% reaction. Thatâ<80><99>s right, reader. Because, whether people are cheering or booing, virtually everyone is reacting to John Cena.

Little kids and younger teens love him and buy his merchandise. Many female fans perch in the bushes outside his beautiful home (a point Iâ<80><99>ll address more a bit later in this article). The primary demographic of WWE, as well as this site, largely booâ<80><99>s the crap out of him. Yes, Cena has his male fans in the 18-45 demographic, and theyâ<80><99>re vocal and supportive. Everyone whoâ<80><99>s not a fan is equally supportive in at least reacting to his work.

Iâ<80><99>ll give you an example. I attended SummerSlam 2006 at the venue formerly named â<80><9c>the Boston Garden.â<80> There were three high profile matches on that card. Hulk Hogan made his return to WWE to face off against Randy Orton. DX took on Vince and Shane McMahon. And John Cena challenged Edge for the WWE title. Guess which match, by and far, got the biggest reaction.

Cenaâ<80><99>s fans and hometown supporters rallied for him that night, and they made quite a lot of noise. The other 50% of the crowd were not so much in favor of Edge as against Cena. It was one of the most raucous and intense crowd reactions Iâ<80><99>ve heard at a live event and, even though I wasnâ<80><99>t originally too interested in the match, by the end, I was popping up off my seat.

Crowd reactions really can do that much for the product. They keep fans tuning in, buying tickets, and making a lot of noise at televised events which, in turn, enhances the product. How many times have you watched an event that was soured by a lousy, semi-interested crowd? Iâ<80><99>ve had that happen in person, and Iâ<80><99>m from Philadelphia, where the crowd is always supposed to be intense. With that said, Iâ<80><99>ve never seen a crowd yawn through a John Cena match.

Yes, there are things to criticize about Cena. Heâ<80><99>s been doing the same shtick for a few years, and many argue that heâ<80><99>s only evolved to a certain extent. But he might just be the WWEâ<80><99>s biggest hope for mainstream crossover. I can tell you that Iâ<80><99>ve known a few young women who tune in to WWE programming specifically to see John Cena. They support the shows, and come to like much of the rest of the product. This is all due to Cenaâ<80><99>s chiseled good looks. What? Donâ<80><99>t look at me like that! Heâ<80><99>s a handsome man! And itâ<80><99>s shown in the fact that girls go ga-ga for him.

â<80><9c>Cenaâ<80><99>s not a good wrestler, Kev.â<80> What, Hypotheticus? Compared to who? Cenaâ<80><99>s not the greatest scientific wrestler in the history of the game, but there have been far, far less qualified wrestlers, technically speaking, to hold the title he carries. I also hear the argument that heâ<80><99>s a â<80><9c>routineâ<80> wrestler, using a lot of the same moves every match. What, you mean like Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, and Bret Hart? I think youâ<80><99>ll see what a piss-poor argument that is.

Most importantly, letâ<80><99>s look at what might happen to Cenaâ<80><99>s ballistic crowd reactions if he were to be turned heel. The way I see it, there are a couple possibilities. Remember that Cena was turned face to begin with because many of the very fans who hate him now cheered him back in 2004. He could very well just be turned face again, based on crowd reactions, if he were turned heel. Why go to the trouble?

The more likely possibility, in my opinion, is that Cenaâ<80><99>s crowd reactions would, overall, weaken. Yes, heâ<80><99>d earn instant heat with most of the young fans who cheer him now. Letâ<80><99>s say thatâ<80><99>s 30% of the audience. The girls would likely still cheer for him. Theyâ<80><99>re 20%. Meanwhile, what would happen to the guys who boo him now? Thereâ<80><99>s very little chance that theyâ<80><99>d all suddenly rally behind Cena if he were a heel. In fact, I think many would begin to lose interest.

Letâ<80><99>s say that the remaining 50% of the crowd were, originally, 35% Cena critics and 15% Cena adult, male fans. Of the 15% fans, 5% might turn on him because his character would change a little. Maybe 15% would begin to cheer him on, seeing as heâ<80><99>s talented and might be able to win them over with his heel tactics.

30% + 20% + 5% + 15% = 70%

That means 3 out of fans, who, before, were waiting to see what happened in every Cena match, could now care less.

See why WWE hasnâ<80><99>t turned Cena heel?

Let the hate mail commence.

The Best Moments in Wrestling History

I’m looking for your favorite wrestling moments of all time: matches, title wins, debuts, returns, skits, feuds…anything wrestling!

Submit your favorite moments. Up to 10 (or a few more) will be fine. Rank them yourself, or I’ll rank them in the order you submit them. Using a weighted point system, I’ll be calculating the top vote-getters and posting the top moments on WrestleZone sometime during WrestleMania weekend. Votes must be submitted by March 27 – the night of TNA’s first live, two hour Impact.

A fair warning to fans of old school wrestling – particularly the NWA, WCCW, AWA, and the various territories – your favorite moments are going sorely underrepresented in the voting. Be sure cast your votes to get them on the list!

Email me HERE!

Kevin McElvaney is also a contributing writer for Pro Wrestling Illustrated and The Wrestler / Inside Wrestling. Send questions or comments to

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