John Cena, WWE, and the Weird, Familiar Road That They Are Going Down
Last Sunday marked a very interesting day in the history of the promotion. This was the day when the WWE, again, looked like its old foe, WCW. Prior to writing this article, I wrote numerous articles in a series called Marking Out in which I write about angles and incidents in pro wrestling from a wrestling fan's perspective. But recently, I have had little motivation to write those articles and for a couple of reasons. First, the site I was originally writing the articles for changed to an all auto racing website. And, second, there wasn't much of anything that was popping out to me from WWE programing.
In just a year's time, the WWE has gone from one of the hottest stories with the contract dispute angle with CM Punk at last year's MITB to John Cena winning the MITB match in a predictable match. In a year that brought us such matches as Undertaker vs. Triple H in a Cell, we were also witness to Hornswoggle being revealed as the anonymous Raw GM. Having watched the turn that the WWE has taken over the course of a single year, the best comparison that I can make with this was the downfall of WCW.
Now, I'm not saying that the promotion is going out of business--Vince is too smart of a businessman to let that happen--but, WWE is going to feel some pain in the form of lower ratings and fan disapproval. The WWE won't be going out of business like WCW because, unlike the WWE, WCW was run by a lot of people who didn't know much about the wrestling business who gave power to people who became drunk on it (Erich Bischoff, Kevin Nash, Vince Russo, Kevin Sullivan), putting themselves over the product. Yet with the WWE, at least for the time being, has Vince, who has lived pro wrestling for nearly his whole life. And while he can make choices that are absurd and horrible, he has also made numerous great decisions for his promotion.
Who will win on Raw 1000?
Yet in the past year, it seems like it has been one step forward, two steps back for the WWE. While the WWE has created good feuds for current WWE champ CM Punk with his fights against Chris Jericho and Daniel Bryan, the top champion in the company is still playing second fiddle to John Cena. In the eight months that Punk has been champion, he has only been in a main event once at TLC, when Cena wasn't on the card. Then, he was above Cena at the Royal Rumble. Every other time, Cena was in the main event. The top title of the promotion was even pushed down the card on more recent PPVs in favor of Divas title matches or Ryback squash matches as lead-ins to the main event.
This is similar to what happened when Goldberg had become one of the hottest commodities for WCW with his win streak, which included him winning both the US and World Heavyweight titles. Despite that, he was never given real competition outside of DDP and Kevin Nash. He was also never the main event, as the World Heavyweight Champion should have; instead, he was playing second fiddle to Hollywood Hogan for the majority of his reign.
It's a problem that has plagued every wrestling promotion, some more than others. Promoters never want to bring in a new top star to replace an already established star-- the “if it's not broke don't fix it” mentality--even if the stars that have been on top for years have become stale. While the WWE has made attempts to get new guys over with the audience like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, and Sheamus, they negate that work by keeping guys like Cena and Big Show.
Wrestling promotions need to mix things to keep it fresh for the fans. But most, if not all, promotions are afraid to take that leap. And with John Cena winning the Money in the Bank match on Sunday, the WWE has again shown this fear. In the past, the MITB winner has more often than not been a heel, as the idea of cashing in on a wounded opponent for a title match is something that they would do. Yet with Cena winning, there was slight hope for some fans that he would have a heel turn. However, after this Monday's Raw when Cena announced he was cashing in on the 1000th episode against a fresh CM Punk, it is very unlikely. The only way I could see this being saved is if Cena were to be the first person to lose after cashing in, which would put Punk over immensely.
We'll all know in a week's time what way the WWE wants to go with all of this.
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