In the soon-coming divorce proceedings, John Cena may lose a lot of monetary gain, but the one thing he cannot afford to lose is his identity.
It is the saddest sort of irony. We have pushed for months—years—for John Cena’s character to turn heel, but in the coming months we may see people with the worst of intentions seek to turn John Cena the man (not the character) into a heel.
Some have compared what is coming to what happened to Hulk Hogan. That is an easy comparison, I suppose. But in reality it is nothing like Hulk Hogan.
John Cena has far more to lose.
The divorce that happened to Hulk Hogan happened late in his career and life, after he had already sullied his reputation with his reality TV show.
Some people ask if reality TV shows are real. I answer that they are real enough to ruin twenty years in one or two seasons.
In kind, John Cena taking a public mud bath today would be like Hulk Hogan going through it in the 1980s.
It is painful for me, a wrestling fan, to consider.
Whether you love or hate John Cena, you cannot deny his undying, unmatched love for WWE. It has been his first love and will more than likely be the longest relationship he encounters in his time on earth.
He has given his life to it and for it.
He has given his life for you and me and never asked us to cheer or support him. How many times has he said just spend your money and react in a way that makes you happy.
He cared about our quality of life.
I, too, care about his.
That is why I hope what is coming is not messy or ugly in ways it need not be.
That is why I am understanding when fans report that John Cena appeared “out of it” and “uninterested” at recent house shows.
There have been many times when John Cena’s body and John Cena’s character needed time off, but WWE could not afford to lose him. Now it may be the other way around. In order not to lose him, they may have to give him time and space.
Story-wise it is easy.
John Laurinaitis hates him. Brock Lesnar needs revenge. Lord Tensai is on the move.
Somebody could hurt John Cena.
Or he could give a promo about how he needs to leave, if that is what he wants.
He has earned the right to have time off and have it on his terms.
But in his life I don’t know what he needs, other than a less than messy divorce and the kind of time that all human beings need afterward.
In the meantime, the least fans can do is not get angry if he doesn’t sign every autograph and not condemn him as a monster if stories begin to come from everyone with a mouth or an online account.
Many are the stories about wrestlers who gave everything. We almost come to expect it. You made it, huh? I bet you gave everything.
Once and awhile, however, we are reminded what everything is.
And I just think if wrestlers give us their all, the least we can give in return is a little.
Like patience and acceptance and a nonjudgmental attitude.
John Cena will be back eventually on the other side of what is coming.
We just don’t know if he will be the same.