The ongoing Bray Wyatt-John Cena program can be considered a success if for no other reason than that it has rejuvenated Cena’s stagnant and dull character, imbuing it with more depth and seriousness.
WWE’s biggest star has been stuck in a rut creatively over the last couple of years. His one-dimensional character was reduced mainly to churning out one unfunny sophomoric joke after another. Regrettably, most of Cena’s tired and cliched material seems to come from the pen of someone who finds dismal films like Grown Ups 2 and Jack and Jill to be the highest peak of comedy.
Late last year, Cena also found himself feuding with Randy Orton over the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Yes, Cena and Orton—who have clashed in the past too many times to count—found themselves squaring off yet again.
The enormously negative reaction from the audience to the pair’s bout at the Royal Rumble may have said more than words ever could about just how unhappy fans were over this rivalry. No one cared, and it looked like WWE was beginning to run out of ideas for its top stars.
Thankfully, though, Cena’s storyline with cult leader-turned-wrestler Wyatt has helped the character get back to business.
Like Jake “The Snake” Roberts or Terry Funk before him, the diabolical Wyatt prides himself on being able to get into an opponent’s head.
He’s tried to do this with Cena, too. And while he hasn’t quite managed it, he’s gotten the 37-year-old visibly rattled on more than one occasion. At WrestleMania XXX, the former WWE champion even had to be talked down by the referee when he threatened to really lose it with Wyatt.
In feuding with Wyatt, the star has, for the most part, discarded his ‘80s cartoon image and started portraying an actual genuine, flawed person.
It’s a refreshing change—and one that WWE’s booking team hopefully sticks with in the future. As the rise of The Shield and Daniel Bryan as babyfaces illustrates, fans no longer want larger-than-life, goody two-shoes personalities. They want to cheer for real people and real personalities these days.
Not that everything’s been perfect, though.
We saw the return of “Invincible Cena” at WrestleMania XXX when he nonsensically defeated Wyatt cleanly in their match. This was frustrating: There was really no reason for Wyatt not to win there.
Cena has also occasionally dipped into his old joke repertoire when going back and forth with Wyatt over the last couple of months. This has also hindered the progress he’s made.
For goodness' sake, someone please keep this man away from Photoshop. For his own good.