John Cena was a mess Monday night on Raw.
He wasn’t a mess by design or for storytelling purposes. The ship of Cena going through inner turmoil has sailed for now.
Instead, Cena—who by all accounts has returned better than ever—was an inconsistent character, one whose actions throughout the night went against his otherwise simple, heroic motivations.
This was a litigious Cena who at one point threatened to sue Triple H if The Game took away his rematch against Brock Lesnar at Night of Champions. The threat evoked a mocking reaction from Triple H. The heel character seemed to be inadvertently pointing out the storyline flaws of having WWE's top star threaten to combat his foes with legal action.
Lesnar has brought a very real element to WWE as a mixed martial artist who has conquered the wrestling world. Cena’s own dialed-down realism, evident in his low-talking promos against Lesnar in vignettes, has also helped advance the rivalry. But the otherwise realistic reaction of suing the boss for breach of contract creates a conflict with Cena as a top wrestling star.
If squashing Internet favorite Bray Wyatt can be considered vintage Cena, threatening to sue a heel authority figure is a stark contrast.
As the night went on, Cena failed to regain any of his heroic swagger. Triple H announced a main event designed to convince him that Cena deserved his rematch against Lesnar at Night of Champions. In the closing sequences, however, Cena curiously tagged out in the middle of his comeback, allowing Roman Reigns—his biggest competition as a babyface both in storyline and real life—to score the victory.
This was not congruent with the theme of Cena being better, faster, stronger or even hungrier. Following the match, Cena would later made a statement by delivering his finisher to Seth Rollins on the Raw announce table while staring down The Authority
But what point was he trying to make?
If Cena is to be built back into a viable contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, WWE needs to go all the way leading up to Night of Champions. Reigns remains a top priority in WWE, but there is no reason he should be awarded a pinfall while Cena is simultaneously being presented as a focal point.
WWE has already opted to rebuild Cena, so this process should be hammered home ahead of Night of Champions. The return of SuperCena not only means restored faith within the Cenation but also cynicism and doubt among his critics. Once they too are uncertain whether Cena will lose to Lesnar, the match becomes more interesting. Speculation begins to take on a life of its own.
For good measure, and because it would be so much fun on Twitter, Cena should prove his dominance by asking for two matches next week on Raw.
His first match should be a squash against Cesaro. His second match should be a squash against Dolph Ziggler. That’ll stir drama for Cena-Lesnar among hardcore fans while presenting Cena as the force he needs to be to win.
Cena can only say so much to convince fans that he has moved past his loss to Lesnar. In fact, lately his promos have hurt him more than they have helped.
Now is the time for action. The more suplexes the better.