While I have made my share of comments among the wrestling community here at Bleacher Report, a recent article has prompted me to sit down and compose my first opinion piece. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I certainly welcome your comments and critique as I do plan to write more in the future.
As we know, John Cena defeated Randy Orton at “Breaking Point” to become the new WWE Champion. These two men will meet again in Sunday’s pay-per-view event “Hell in a Cell” in a rematch for the title inside the Hell in a Cell structure. Leading up to this event, Ryan Michael authored a piece stating his opinion that Cena will retain the belt at Hell in a Cell, and that loss will continue to destroy the heel momentum that Randy Orton has built up to this point. While well-written, there were several points that jumped off the screen to me that prompted this piece as a response.
…(The WWE) appeared willing to allow their most talented Superstar to develop into one of the greatest heels of our generation…but heels are yesterday’s news…
Randy Orton is athletically gifted, a third-generation star, and indeed has developed into one of the greatest heels of this era already. When you look at the things he has done in 2009 alone in the McMahon/Triple H feud alone, it painted him as a sinister viper willing to win at all costs and injure his opponents and others along the way. Remember though, there was a substantial part of that feud with the McMahons and Triple H where Orton did not carry the title. Much of the heel heat generated in the McMahon/Triple H feud came before Backlash, and then continued after he won the title. The title was really secondary to the feud.
Whether or not Orton carries the title, I believe his heel momentum will continue to be strong. The WWE was not only willing, but has established him as the top heel on Raw and he carries it off extremely well. As Orton feels that he is the only one deserving of being the top guy, a loss will fuel him all the more to be even more brutal and sinister in order to regain his rightful place at the top of the Raw 'world'.
Are heels “yesterday’s news”? No, I don’t think so. For the “story” of pro wrestling to work, you almost have to have good vs. evil. While a heel may never be the flag-bearer for the company, a heel will always have a role and those like Orton who pull it off extremely well will be relevant, very involved in storylines, and even attain championship gold.
…Triple H said…to become one of the top guys, you had to become the top face…John Cena has done exactly that…
Judging by fan reaction alone to Cena of late and the mixed boos and cheers for him, he may be considered a top guy but not necessarily that true “top face” like The Rock or Stone Cold Steve Austin were in their day. The Rock and Austin rarely got mixed reactions - whenever they came out, the arena "popped" and was electrified. In my opinion, until Creative does something new with John Cena, his days as a top face are essentially over.
I would also say that Orton is someone I would consider a top guy who has never really been a top face for an extended period of time. There is only one period of time (when he was unceremoniously dumped from “Evolution”) that I can even recall Orton being a face and that period did not last extremely long. Orton’s ability, not his persona, has defined him as a top player in the business and he will be remembered for years to come as the best heel of his time.
…the WWE made their decision long ago to adopt a direction I’d like to call “Babyface Favoritism”…
If indeed there was “babyface favoritism” going on, would the vicious heel Randy Orton have held the major title on Raw for 132 days from Backlash to Breaking Point? Triple H and Batista – both face roles – had title matches in that period and were not given the title (and I’m intentionally not counting that 1 day fiasco around Extreme Rules…it’s fairly meaningless to the point). Consider too that if there is indeed favoritism toward face characters, the major championships would all be held by faces, or heel reigns would be very short ones. Recent change excluded, it is not the case.
…as long as the WWE continues to push hard in this direction, the fans should not expect a balanced product…
I think why fans should not expect a balanced product is not because of a face-oriented push, but instead because of a lack of roster talent that can step into either a face or heel role. Once you are beyond Cena, Trips, HBK, and Orton, who is left in the main event scene on Raw? What mid-card wrestlers are prepared to take the next step into the main-event spotlight? Jack Swagger, The Miz, MVP, and Kofi Kingston, and even Legacy members DiBiase and Cody Rhodes all come to mind immediately, but none really stand out as someone that is ready to take that step into the main event circle and carry a major championship.
…it is hurting their PPV buyrates and they don’t appear to care much…
Considering that TNA Wrestling is only recently pulling themselves back together and have such a long way to go to be legitimate competition – do they have to care? As long as the WWE produces events that appeal to the majority of the wrestling market and as long as TNA remains a non-threat, WWE PPV buyrates will be sufficient enough to satisfy Vince and Co. for now. I don’t consider this to be a factor in whether or not Orton's loss of the title or his failure to regain it at Hell in a Cell is slowing his heel momentum at all.
…The WWE might, and I stress the word “might”, try to find a way to make Randy Orton look credible in the process of his defeat but it will mean little…
All the WWE has to do to make Orton look credible, even in defeat, is script it that Cena gets the living daylights beaten out of him even though he retains the belt – most easily done by a post-match beatdown inside the locked cell. What better way to keep heel heat on a guy than to have him violently beat down the perceived top face of the company, regardless of the title implications?
And with a rumored face turn coming for Ted DiBiase to promote “Marine 2”, even a violent loss by Orton at Hell in a Cell won’t fall meaningless. Can you picture this promo line as Legacy crumbles?
“Ted, I have beaten down many bigger names than you – Triple H, John Cena, Batista, Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, even Vince McMahon himself! What makes you think I won’t just add your name to that ever growing list of victims now that you’ve turned on me…?”
After all that said, this point I do agree with:
…Cena will retain the belt at Hell in a Cell…
While I respect his commitment and work ethic, I am not a John Cena fan; in fact I am not really a fan of either man in this match. Given that Cena is viewed as the most popular star within WWE right now and likely generates the most revenue in terms of merchandise sales, I cannot see him losing a title match within a month of him winning the belt back. Stranger things have happened - but I don't expect it to go that way.
When Sunday night is over and if indeed Randy Orton has lost at Hell in a Cell, I do not view it as something that will stop any heel momentum that he has going, or tarnish his image as an outstanding athlete and one of the top performers in the business. What a loss will likely do is further add to his sinister, viper-like character that will fuel him even more to eliminate his competition, one by one, until he regains championship gold.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!