Exploring the Pros and Cons of a John Cena Heel Turn
John Cena is, without doubt, one of the most controversial figures in the WWE. His character has an enormous fanbase, but it also has an army of detractors.
Whether it's his "5 Moves of Doom" or his apparent refusal to put over new talent, there's plenty to annoy fans about Cena's character. The most infuriating aspect of his persona, though, is that it has not changed in any perceivable way over the years.
For many, the obvious answer to this problem is a heel turn.
Unfortunately, the process of turning John Cena into a villain is not quite as easy as it would be for any other Superstar. He occupies a unique position in the WWE landscape, so any heel turn needs to be considered carefully.
Pro: Logical Storyline Progression
The entire feud between John Cena and Bray Wyatt has been built upon one thing: Wyatt doesn't want to beat Cena in a wrestling match—he wants to destroy his legacy.
It does feel a little inevitable that Cena will come out on top at the end of it all, but this makes little sense in the scheme of the story. The Eater of Worlds has been burrowing deeper and deeper into Cena's head over recent weeks and months, so he simply has to illicit a change in character from the WWE's resident Boy Scout.
The constant influence of such a malevolent entity into the life of Cena must bring out a darker side of his personality. Nothing could be darker than the ultimate babyface turning heel.
Con: Think of the Children and Their Money
As the years have gone on, John Cena's fans have left him behind. Fortunately for him, there's always a new generation of youngsters who think he's the best thing since sliced bread.
Cena is the top man of the WWE because, among other things, he pushes an enormous amount of merchandise. Kids love him. When the standard chants greet his arrival, the "Let's go Cena" portion is always higher pitched than the accompanying shout of "Cena Sucks."
The moment that Cena turns heel, he loses the faith of that audience. That's something he cannot afford to do.
Pro: New Storylines and Feuds
Cena has been a babyface star for so long that no one really knows how he would fit into the roster as a heel.
Such a dramatic change in character would open up a whole new spectrum of potential stories for Cena. He could have top-level feuds with some of the company's biggest babyface stars like Daniel Bryan, The Shield and Sheamus.
The positioning of John Cena as the heel in these rivalries creates an interesting and different dynamic that could make the stories truly memorable.
Con: Charity Work
Whatever you think of him between the ropes, John Cena is a wonderful man outside of the ring.
The amount of work he does for charity is astonishing. He has made the dreams of over 400 ill children come true via the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which is more than any other person.
A heel turn would make it very difficult for Cena to carry on this work. Kayfabe is pretty much nonexistent for modern adults, but some children do still believe that the events in the ring are unscripted. It would be impossible for a Cena who is evil on Monday nights to spend the rest of the week as one of the world's most charitable celebrities.
This is a crucial point that goes some way to explaining the lack of a heel turn for John Cena.
Pro: Enormous Swerve
At Bash at the Beach in 1996, Hulk Hogan shocked WCW by turning heel and joining the nWo. It has gone down as one of the biggest swerves in the history of professional wrestling.
There's little doubt that a John Cena heel turn would be of a similar, if not equal, magnitude. The animosity for Cena among many of the fans would get him over instantly, and the surprise would rock the WWE Universe.
Above anything else, John Cena becoming a villain would shake the WWE up an awful lot.
Con: It Won't Make Him Interesting Again
When he's in top form, John Cena is great with a mic in his hand. He's also a solid in-ring worker, albeit within a fairly limited move set. The problem is that he has been at the top of the company for a little too long.
A heel turn wouldn't change that. His move set would be remarkably similar, and his promos would likely be almost identical to the "Serious Cena" stuff we've seen during the Bray Wyatt feud. There wouldn't be any dramatic change, except that the boos would feel justified.
That's not enough to make John Cena feel fresh again.
John Cena isn't going to turn heel any time soon. The WWE will tease it occasionally, as they are now, but it's highly unlikely that it will ever happen.
Simply, the company has too much to lose to take the risk. There's no guarantee that a heel turn will inject life into Cena's character, and they are still making an awful lot of money from his current position as a top babyface.
That's not to mention the catastrophic effect that a villainous John Cena would have on his charity work. Above all else, that needs to be preserved.