John Cena's time is now. Well, that's what he says anyway. The WWE champion is set to defend his title against Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam on August 18 in what has quickly become a very highly anticipated match. But for those fans who believe that this feud will cause Cena to become less stale or ultimately benefit him in the end, I disagree.
Yes, even though he says that his time is now.
The fact is that when you come right down to it, John Cena's time is basically everyday. Since being crowned the top guy by Vince McMahon, John has reigned over WWE with a cap on his head and a smile on his face.
And he wears both excruciatingly often.
But truth be told, Cena should be smiling. He is working a program with the company's hottest Superstar in Daniel Bryan right now. Bryan's rise in popularity has been steadily building since he and Kane first formed Team Hell No, and now it has skyrocketed through the stratosphere.
Anyone who has been a pro wrestling fan for any significant amount of time knows that when you pair a star with a guy who is just red-hot, then you have a powder keg just waiting to blow. This is especially true in the case of John Cena versus Daniel Bryan because John Cena is not just any WWE Superstar.
He is the WWE Superstar. There is no one bigger and more important to that company's profitability than John Cena. That's it, bottom line.
So working Bryan should greatly benefit Cena, right? This rivalry should help invigorate his title reign and cause him to take his character in a new, fresh direction. Bryan's momentum should carry over to Cena, and the champ will draw off the crowd's excitement and transfer some of that focus back to himself. Fans will appreciate him and see him in a new light. It will be the start of a new day for John Cena. Right?
Yeah, not so much.
WWE has made it very obvious that John Cena is John Cena, and he's not changing for anyone. Despite with whom he comes into contact or with whom he works, Cena is unaffected by it all. He is the same going in as he is coming out. He undergoes very little change, if at all.
And that is the definition of a static character.
Think about it. Brock Lesnar's WWE return after WrestleMania 28 last year was one of the most intense Raw moments we have seen in quite some time. His attack on John Cena and subsequent fights helped portray the former UFC champion in a whole new light.
Brock was more ferocious, brutal, more animal than man. The technical aspect of his game took a backseat to the punishing rage that he brought down upon Cena every time he touched him.
Did Cena emerge from that feud a changed man? Did he keep his smile yet also develop a harder edge to his personality?
Not at all.
Will John Cena benefit from his feud with Daniel Bryan?
When Kane returned and targeted Zack Ryder and Eve Torres because of their association with Cena, it was very reminiscent of the old school Big Red Machine. Kane was cruel and heartless, playing mind games with Cena and mentally dissecting him on a weekly basis.
Did Cena come out of this particular rivalry changed at all? Even a little? Forget about the monsters for a moment. What about Cena's feud with CM Punk?
Punk and Cena's matches are considered by many fans to be the best WWE has produced in years. Every time these two hooked up, it was more than just a main event. Punk pushed John to his limits, made him step up his game. John looked better against Punk than he has arguably looked against anyone in a very long time.
Do I have to ask if John's ring work and more specifically his repertoire of moves changed at all due to his feud with CM Punk?
Don't misunderstand me here. Cena is playing the hand he's dealt. His character is the way it is for a reason. It works for him. At the end of the day, John Cena is still the No. 1 Superstar in Vince McMahon's company. He will likely continue to keep doing what he's doing until he absolutely cannot do it anymore.
So, the answer to the initial question is no. Cena will not benefit from his feud with Daniel Bryan. If anyone could benefit from this, it's Bryan.
This is Bryan's first real glimpse of WWE's brass ring. Yes, he worked CM Punk when the Best in the World was WWE champion, but that was not the same thing. With all due respect to Punk, John is the inarguable top Superstar in the WWE locker room; working him is not like working anyone else.
Will Bryan go over at SummerSlam? Honestly, it's hard to say. I would personally like to believe that he will have a real chance at the big time in WWE. If it's meant to happen, this definitely appears to be the road he should take.
But for John Cena, Daniel Bryan is likely just another challenger. SummerSlam is just another title defense. No matter how many fans think that this is the best time in Daniel Bryan's career, thus the best opportunity he has to succeed on WWE's main event level, I can only remind you of Cena's catchphrase.
His time is now. Well, you know, that's what he says, anyway.