Apparently, all pro-wrestling fans are fifth graders at heart.
John Cena over the past month has gone from a “fruity pebble” into a serious threat to the Rock. Wrestling enthusiasts and critics alike discuss how Cena has more emotion and passion in his promos. Heck, he even gets cheers now, and caused the crowd in Boston to slightly turn on the Rock by chanting “Tooth Fairy.”
Personally, I think Cena has always had emotion and passion, only now he just uses the terms “ass” and “bitch,” which apparently is all it takes.
The “Attitude Era” can be argued as the most influential period in professional wrestling history. Before that time period, there was an established order of things. The good guys (“babyface” is the wrestling term, and if you want to be a cool insider, you just call them “face”) acted squeaky clean and the bad guys (“heels”) didn’t.
Then came “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, who blurred the line between how a face should act. He acted like a heel, but he did it in a cool way that got cheers. If Austin was the king of the Attitude Era, then the Rock was the crown prince.
Both of them paved the way for a new era of promos, and the verbiage inside these promos. Saying “ass” and “bitch” brought along a sense of passion and edge, and made them seem cool because you never heard those words inside a wrestling ring before. Pro wrestling historically was geared towards kids up until that point.
Then, pro wrestling turned into something adults found cool all of a sudden.
As the Attitude Era brought the WWE out of near death and helped them slay the evil WCW dragon, Vince McMahon realized he can turn the dial down on the edge since he had no competition and focus more on revenue and sponsorships, which meant going back to a PG-kid friendly version of wrestling. John Cena has been the “chosen one” to lead the WWE throughout this “PG era.”
What the PG era encompasses is pretty simple: no boobs, no blood, no controversial storylines, and no cursing. That’s a lot of cool things gone away. It’s no coincidence that this era has also had the stigma of being stale and unimaginative. We wrestling fans have had the sweet taste of the Devil’s cake and do not enjoy the healthy rice-cake that has been force fed to us over the years.
Enter the Rock.
His first appearance and promo brought back that sweet nostalgic taste that all wrestling fans have severely missed. He has no PG parameters or time restraints to abide by. He can do and say basically whatever he wants. His “ass and bitch/per promo” count is extremely high compared to the next closest WWE wrestler’s promos over the past five years—and the fans are eating it up.
Forget the fact that he really hasn’t said anything relevant in a really long time and seems to have a cult-like mind mechanism of wanting to create chants. It’s the Rock, right?!? He’s from the Attitude era! He’s cool! Look how cool and edgy he is! Oh snap, did he just say “Kung-Pao bitch?!?!?” That’s hysterical!
The Rock was clearly in command of this feud up until February 27, 2012, when Cena confronted the Rock face-to-face and the basic universal conclusion from this meeting was that Cena “punked” the Rock. He showed a different side; he showed an edge; he cursed.
Then the following week, an angrier (and more frazzled) Rock got verbally outshined by Cena again. He showed more passion, he said more meaningful things, and yes, he cursed.
Then again during his “rap,” Cena broke his PG mold and showed even more edge by using the “s-word.” On a side note, “the professor of thug-o-nomics” might be one of the dumbest nicknames and characters out there. It opens Cena up to Marky Mark remarks, and takes away from John Cena: the serious, quick-witted, PG-13 version that was gaining some steam over the previous couple weeks.
It was still better than the extremely overdrawn Rock singing promo, however, so it was yet another victory for Cena, even if it was by default.
It’s clear that the WWE realized the only way Cena had a chance in the feud was to allow him to leave his PG shackles and go PG-13. It’s a happy medium that doesn’t lose the money generating kid fandom, but at the same time draws some respect from the older crowd.
The formula is simple: curse. That’s all I have to say.
Oh yeah, one more thing: damn, ass, bitch.