Strip away the pandering antics and speak from the heart. Display the fire and passion that brought you to the dance. Don’t think. Just talk. And it will be compelling.
Last night, John Cena delivered a stellar promo in a phenomenal segment. There was no trace of the blatantly inane elements of the character that we have seen in recent months. This was not the personality that defaced a limousine or impersonated the long-time Cardinals and Cubs announcer, Harry Caray.
With an impassioned plea and a stubborn exhibition of faith, the RAW audience was treated to the true nature of John Cena. It is something worth cheering.
At the end of the segment, I hit the pause button and took a few moments to mull over what had transpired. Unfortunately, the first thought to enter my mind was that the praise that Cena richly deserves for his part in the segment would be sparse, at best.
Cena is neither universally beloved by the live crowds, nor is he given the kudos he might earn if he were someone else. Granted, a solid argument can be made for the Superman type booking of his character being counterproductive to his ability to win over the fans.
Similarly, it is evident that Cena is not the most versatile athlete in his ring performance.
Yet, Cena is accomplished at what he does, has made leaps and bounds in selling his opponents’ offense, and has undeniable chemistry.
He will never equal the prodigious talents of Shawn Michaels, Kurt Angle, or Brian Danielson in the ring. Neither could The Rock, nor Stone Cold Steve Austin, and certainly not Hulk Hogan.
I realized that I could formulate argument after argument in support of John Cena—and it would fall on deaf ears and blind eyes. Too many so-called fans of professional wrestling have developed an insatiable need to prove that they are smart to the business.
No one wants to be considered a mark. The stigma is just too pervasive, with the end result seemingly rendering the opinions of the person invalid. It is one of the most popular methods of Internet forums to counteract any attempt to support certain individual wrestlers, promotions, and storylines.
“You like John Cena? You like Triple H? You like the WWE? You like the stories that TNA puts out? You must be a mark.”
Sensible debate over the purpose of a storyline, or the development of a character, falls apart.
Worse yet, in the effort to prove that one is not a mark, nothing is good enough. No storyline is allowed to develop without an outcry of predictability, horrible writing, and the burial of talent. No match is permitted to be anything less than perfect. No veteran wrestler is able to win a match without being accused of burying a younger talent.
We forget, I believe, that we are only as smart to the business as the business allows. Kayfabe might not be the fortress it once was in the 1980s, but there are elements to the way that the industry runs that are not for public consumption.
The writers, the wrestlers, and the management of professional wrestling companies have one goal. To produce a product that sells to the audience. Will I agree with everything that transpires? Certainly not.
I don’t agree with everything that unfolds in House, Heroes, or Law & Order SVU. However, I enjoy the end product because I understand the effort that goes into my entertainment.
As I pressed play once more to continue watching the remainder of RAW, I came to a very important conclusion.
I can be an intelligent, learned individual that has amassed, and will continue to acquire, knowledge about this business of wrestling. I can be that individual and still love the product. For two hours every Monday, and every other hour I devote to watching wrestling, I can give myself over to being entertained.
When John Cena comes into an arena, I will cheer. When Chris Jericho commits another dastardly act, I will boo him, despite the fact that I love him for it. When Shawn Michaels puts on a wrestling clinic that doesn’t include a complicated gymnastics spot, I will appreciate the story he is telling in the ring. When Randy Orton coils like a viper, I will be on the edge of my seat.
In other words, I stopped worrying about the perceptions of others. I learned to be a fan, unabashed and entertained.
Call me a mark, if you will. I will wear the badge with pride, because in my heart of hearts, I know the truth.
The truth is that I will enjoy wrestling more than the “smart” fans, without losing an iota of my intelligence. Each time I turn on the television for wrestling, or pay to attend a live event, I will be dazzled by the spectacle, and take away memories that will last a lifetime.
(As an added bonus, anyone who can correctly identify the derivation of the headline will earn me as a fan for life!)