Who Are John Cena, Randy Orton and CM Punk? WWE Wrestling Needs Personality
When Shawn Michaels won his first World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XII, few would have deprived him of the moment.
It was a "boyhood dream" realised. It was the epitome of a new generation, someone who had worked his way up through the ranks of the WWF and reached the very heights of success.
We know now however that this was not quite the story. The marketing of that moment fails to reveal the bitter exchange between Michaels and opponent Bret Hart. Nor does it reveal the Klique's backstage powerbase.
And yet this moment has got me thinking about how much we really know about the very superstars we watch every week.
The onset of the Internet has allowed for a much greater understanding of wrestlers and wrestling. And yet I cannot help but think that wrestling has still maintained a thin veil over a lot of what we know about the superstars.
Take, for instance, Kofi Kingston.
When he first arrived in the WWE he was Jamaican. A lazy stereotype that whilst popular was in no way reflective of who Kingston was, other than his liking of reggae music. The character was colorful and fresh, but there was no realism to it.
As time has gone by, Kingston has been Americanized, although his Ghanaian roots have been brought out. What else do we know about him?
Do You Want More Real Profiling?
I believe that wrestling would benefit if the shows we watched contained much greater promos and angles that allowed us as fans to see the person behind the wrestler. Sometimes the WWE does them extremely well, especially when it utilises music.
For those who missed last night's Democratic National Convention, look at the beauty of the piece on the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Its use of strong passionate music together with famous footage of the Lion of the Senate was an emotive moment. It got the crowd, and dare I say a few at home, teary-eyed.
It was great television.
Remove the "filler" material from shows like dancing, contract signings, backstage bits and talk shows, and wrestling would be able to dedicate more to a better quality promotion of its superstars.
In an era of realistic superstars who rely solely on their own name and talent, wrestlers have become almost generic. There is little to differentiate between the superstars.
And yet, if the WWE allowed us to see more, and understand more, we as fans would have a greater affinity for the superstars.
John Cena is perhaps the best example of a superstar with public access. We see his good deeds and his various television appearances. His public image is therefore better than most and yet, even here we do not necessarily see the real John Cena.
We only get John Cena the wrestler.
Maybe it is in the interests of the wrestling world, not to see what goes into being a superstar. Maybe by keeping a veil over things, it helps control what we fans think.
The example of Zack Ryder is perhaps the case in point of how fans can openly rebel if they take to a superstar that for whatever reason is not gaining mainstream attention.
As a fan, I would like to know more. I would like to see more. I want to know why Jack Swagger got into wrestling. I want to see the Rhodes family tree. I want to see the road that John Cena took to becoming a superstar.
I want to learn more about the very people we see every week.
Why can't we have more of these vignettes and promos? Why can't we see what happens behind the curtain? If given a choice between a Mark Henry arm wrestle, a Great Khali dance-off or an informative in-depth promo on a superstar, I know which one I would pick.
In an era of wrestling that has been condemned for its lack of creativity, sometimes the easiest means of selling a superstar, is to simply tell their real life story. It might not stop the Cena haters, but by understanding his story and his life, his fans will love him all the more.
Wrestling has become reality-based. In competition to MMA, we no longer have Undertakers, Taxmen, Clowns, Kings, Trash Collectors, Bikers or Boogeymen, we simply have wrestlers.
And yet so many of these superstars need help in creating their identity, something that will help them stand out as something other than simply a wrestling muscleman.
John Morrison comes to mind here.
And so as we fast approach Night of Champions, I cannot help but wonder how much we really know about the very superstars we are watching and supporting. The answer is probably: not a lot.
Who is the real John Cena? What makes Randy Orton tick? What drives CM Punk? How did Sheamus get to America?
These are questions that we still need the answers to.
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