The destruction of John Cena at the hands of Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam may very well have indicated a change in WWE’s booking mentality.
Have Vince McMahon and his team of writers finally accepted that they cannot continue to build the company around an aging star who has been plagued by various injuries over the last few years? It appears that's the case.
Why else would they have scripted Cena to be squashed so badly?
But who on the roster could potentially replace the 12 Rounds actor as the company's biggest babyface?
The first name that springs to mind is, of course, Roman Reigns. The former Shield member has been fiercely protected by the bookers over the last year and presented as an unstoppable babyface monster. WWE may very well be trying to turn him into the new Bill Goldberg.
He even managed to garner a clean win over established main eventer Randy Orton at Sunday's pay-per-view, which is a sure sign that McMahon has big plans for him.
For his part, Reigns has performed decently in his role. His promos have been respectable. His in-ring work has been strong too.
Personally, I think something is missing with him—the fans don't seem as anxious to get behind him as they did with Daniel Bryan—but it's very possible he could discover that missing connection soon.
Dean Ambrose hasn't received the great booking treatment Reigns has—he's lost several high-profile matches—but he's still performed strongly in recent times. Indeed, his current babyface character is extremely entertaining. He's sort of a cross between Steve Austin and Brian Pillman.
His spectacular performance in the main event on Monday’s Raw has undoubtedly helped boost his stock as well.
Reassuringly, the company does seem to have faith in him.
As Marc Graser of Variety reported last week, he's been given the lead role in WWE Studios' upcoming action movie Lockdown.
People can make all the jokes about WWE's film division they want, but management would not have elected to give him such a high-profile gig if it didn't think he was going to be a fairly important part of the future going forward.
A more unlikely but still compelling prospect to replace Cena is Brock Lesnar, the man who destroyed the Cenation leader on Sunday.
You could say Lesnar's natural role is that of a monster heel. I won't dispute that.
However, it doesn't mean the former UFC fighter couldn't thrive as a babyface. He's got a ton of presence, intense charisma and a great manager in Paul Heyman. It's almost hard not to get behind him when he comes out and destroys everything in sight.
His no-nonsense character would probably appeal to many fans who are sick and tired of Cena's bad jokes too.
It’s good that people in management have seemingly decided to move on from Cena; it would be unwise to continue to build the future around him. It's long past time for the bookers to move on.
And thankfully, they have quite a few candidates to pick from for his replacement.
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