Monday night's Raw had two promos from WWE's top babyfaces.
One was compelling. One was terrible.
A guy who shows up only a few weeks a year is more universally loved than WWE’s current top star.
In fact, it sounds like John Cena is hated by about half the audience.
When people chant for The Rock, it’s not followed up by an equally loud “Rocky sucks” chant.
There’s a lot that Cena could learn from The Great One.
Right now, The Rock takes his feud with Punk seriously. Of course, he finds time to joke around, sing a few songs and lay out a “cookie puss” or two, but when it’s time to deliver the lines that make money, he knows how to do it.
When Rock and Punk are face-to-face, the smiles goes away, the guitar is set down. While he comes off as confident, he treats his foe as an equal.
On Raw, The Rock put over Punk's 428-day title reign. He said it was historic, and that he had the right to call himself the best in the world.
Compare that with Cena's promo at the end of the night.
Cena didn't bother talking up the importance of the Royal Rumble match, how the odds are against him and how grueling and unpredictable it is.
He brought out the jokes.
Cena found the time to let us know that his video game user name is skidmarks187, then tossed in a bad yoga joke, mentioned blow-up dolls and topped it off by digging down deep for a dated Bret Favre reference.
This was the go-home hype for one of the biggest pay-per-views of the year. The crowd was vocally hostile to this blend of comedy.
What Cena doesn’t understand is that you should build up your opponents to make them seem like a threat. Then when you defeat them, you come out looking better because you beat someone legitimate.
Ziggler may have just worked with the company's top star, but he's only worse for the wear now.
Cena wasn't concerned about Ziggler, his ex-girlfriend or Big E Langston. It was time for wiener jokes, badly Photoshopped pictures and dropping large quantities of excrement from the ceiling.
Cena did the damage to himself. Beating a joke character meant nothing. His win was meaningless.
The Rock was able to sell his feud with Punk much better with only two words:
Not only did The Rock make Punk look like a star, but he actually sold for The Shield. He made four people look good in one night.
When Ziggler defeated Cena with AJ’s help, Cena got up… and smiled.
His girlfriend just dumped him in front of millions of people; he lost his chance at the Money in the Bank contract. He was fooled, and yet he took the time to shake his head and let us know that he's okay.
This was the same reaction he had when Brock Lesnar bashed him in the mouth. No big deal, apparently.
Nothing gets to this guy.
He doesn’t have to overcome his defeats and letdowns, because they just don't bother him in the first place. While children may like this superhero trait in him, it makes him unrelatable to the rest of the audience.
The Rock understands when it's time to be serious and sell a feud. Comedy may get some laughs, but it doesn't sell tickets. Though he was gone for nearly a decade, he still hasn't forgotten this aspect of wrestling.
In ten straight years of WWE service, Cena somehow still hasn't learned that basic, fundamental skill.