Lately, we've been under the impression that the intriguing "conspiracy" angle from months ago has been largely cooling off. Some have already filed it in the packed full "unsolved mysteries" drawer—in other words, the place where unfinished WWE storylines go.
However, I haven't given up in my quest to prove that this storyline not only isn't finished, but has a distinctly interesting payoff waiting in the wings.
Last night on Raw, during what could've been a sad segment between Ryder, Eve and Swagger, John Laurinaitis scheduled a crummy match, but an ever-so-brief development occurred that should not be overlooked.
Ryder was discussing his mixed-tag victory with Eve from last week, when Jack Swagger intervened, saying he was born to wear the United States Championship. Ryder obviously took offense and the two began arguing. Laurinaitis then walked in and said the two of them would compete in a six-man elimination match.
At which time, Laurinaitis looked off into space, said Cena's name again with a big smile, and the scene faded into the next segment.
So, what can we gather from this? Odd to say the least, no?
Laurinaitis is a fairly typical corporate heel authority figure. Nothing super unique about him, but hopefully many of us can agree he's been playing his part much stronger in recent weeks than he did at first. Thus, with John Cena still continuing to play up his babyface role, logically speaking, that should mean that Laurinaitis would want Cena to be at a considerable disadvantage and end up taking a beatdown.
Thing is, Kane vowed at the top of the episode to prove to Cena what hatred can do later on in the night. If Laurinaitis knew Kane would refuse to participate in the match (as demonstrated by the fact that David Otunga was the one who announced that Kane would not be at Swagger and Henry's side), Laurinaitis would effectively have given Cena an easy way to win.
Obviously, Big Show and Mark Henry would be at each other's throats. Sure enough, they both eliminated each other, leaving Cena and Ryder to take out Swagger. As we've seen of Swagger lately, that would make it easy pickings.
Ryder took it to Swagger for a while, tried to set up the Rough Ryder, failed, turned an Ankle Lock submission into a tag to Cena, Attitude Adjustment and pin, Cena picks up the victory.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting some kind of alliance between Kane and Laurinaitis, a la Abyss being some oddball part of Immortal over in TNA. But the coincidence is pretty startling.
Kane is busy trying to get Cena to embrace his hatred of people who boo him, and as I've attempted to show in past articles, Laurinaitis wants to benefit Cena any way he can. Title shots, unfair matches, opportunities.
WWE can't creatively write a character like Laurinaitis into being an idiot villain who just gets foiled all the time. Laurinaitis may not be wildly charismatic, but come on, he's too smart to be foiled that easily. He wants Cena to succeed, and whether folks like Truth, Punk, King, Triple H, or anyone else discusses the idea of a conspiracy or not, one is clearly still in place and is clearly still benefiting John Cena.
On the same night, Chris Jericho, returning as the mystery man behind the "It Begins 2012" vignettes seen on YouTube, Raw and SmackDown, entered in an extraordinarily odd fashion, prancing around the ring for 10 minutes and saying absolutely nothing.
Some are saying that it took great skill to accomplish, getting a major pop one minute, then getting boos the next, without saying a word. If he had gotten cheers, then boos, then cheers again without saying anything, I'd admit that would take skill.
But he entered to pops, and as he remained silent and soaked up every cheer, the fans got aggravated and booed. By the time the boos were picking up, he left.
Honestly, most stars in his position, returning after only 15 months of absence, pulling the same thing for the same amount of time, could have gotten the same exact reaction. Do the math. But that's another tale for another article...
I bring up Chris Jericho's segment, because while I wasn't too thrilled or impressed, I do acknowledge that it had to mean something more significant than it looked like it did.
WWE and Jericho are both forces driven by creativity. Say what you like about WWE's ability to be creative when it comes to putting together a compelling wrestling program nowadays, the two are driven by how creative they can be. I'd be willing to bet Jericho left WWE twice out of a desire to be fully creative on his own as opposed to playing a role WWE hands him.
Thus, we simply cannot overlook Laurinaitis' "dreaminess" (for lack of a better term) over John Cena participating in the main event of last night's Raw.
The main event likely should have been CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler, if for no other reason than it was for the WWE Championship. You can't make a title look important and not always have it in the main event. However, a throwaway six-man took precedence. Fine, no problem. During the title match earlier in the night, though, Laurinaitis interjected and caused Punk to lose to Ziggler for the second time.
It's no news flash that Laurinaitis and Punk aren't on good terms, and as much as I've defended Laurinaitis' character on-screen, one criticism that I've given is that his character needs to take more action to show his hand. If he's going to be a somewhat soft-spoken kind of guy that doesn't appear overly rattled (like Vince McMahon used to get), then he needs to take stronger action to show fans what he thinks and feels.
The past two weeks, he's finally retaliated against Punk and although I love Punk's reign as champion, I'm very happy Laurinaitis has gotten to Punk enough to really get under Punk's skin. So much so that he stormed into Laurinaitis' office and said if he gets screwed out of the title, he's going to beat Laurinaitis like a "b*tch."
Really takes the contrast between Punk, a guy the IWC WANTS to be a top star, and Cena, a guy who undoubtedly is still the top star (whether we like it or not), to a whole new level!
Punk and Cena are really pure opposites. Punk's career has proven his character to be a guy who truly does as he likes, says what he likes, and acts how he likes. He can say it all he wants, but he's shown it, he's proven it. Right now, his actions are parallel to what fans want. In another year, he might be back to being a heel again. I'm comfortable with that, knowing he's at least facilitating change in the short-term. He advocates it and wants it, whether he's actually bringing it about or not, and that's something to admire.
Cena, on the other hand, as become a product of the fans. He's friendly, smiles a lot, "puts on a happy face" so to speak, does his best to inspire people with positivity, rhetoric, and "soapbox" speeches about fairness and justice and victory. He's even expressed on Twitter his dislike of the new "Cena Sucks" t-shirts. He likely wants NOTHING about WWE change, whether that's in-character or not.
Punk has already made his feelings about Laurinaitis felt on numerous occasions; however, Laurinaitis has kept largely to himself about how he plans on acting back. The past two weeks, he's led to Punk losing twice to Dolph Ziggler, and that's pretty huge.
In essence, as crazy as this sounds, Laurinaitis, as monotone and cold as he is, has now shown more emotion than Cena.
Look at his growing "feud" with Kane. Kane questions everything about Cena, and Cena continues to be this idealistic, diplomatic figure, insisting on talking, talking, talking, talking. Not acting. Not retaliating. Talking.
Punk dislikes Laurinaitis, dislikes Triple H, dislikes Nash, whoever else, and he gets right in their face and lets them know, conclusively and decisively, how he feels. He supports things, he applauds them. He hates things, he tosses pipebombs and lets people know. If they want to fight about it, perfect, ring the bell.
Cena? He insists on using his words. Admirable for a kid in a schoolyard. Not for a WWE superstar.
Any additional Cena psychoanalysis aside, Laurinaitis briefly showed a hint of reverence for John Cena when he announced Cena's participation in the six-man tag team match, and I'm fervent about it not being left to the wayside amid all the talk and speculation about Jericho.
The story of John Cena's feelings and potentially evolving emotions, I'll admit, has me pretty riveted, as I'm sure it has many others riveted.
I'm sure Cena's supporters want nothing less than to see their hero change in any drastic way. But I can't stress this enough.
The mixed reactions are no longer 50/50. They are swaying. Cena is LOSING favor, and he should not be kept in one role to appease the minority. My fiancee even pointed something out to me when watching the intro video last night.
One of the folks that Cena looked at in the crowd that was holding up a Cena Sucks shirt?
A military man. Troops supposedly love Cena, right? Not all of them...
Admit it. The winds of change are blowing, as Wade Barrett said. The tide is changing. The sway that is occurring is changing the balance.
Cena will not stay a force of good forever. You have to deal with it.