I will leave the full recap of Monday Night Raw to the experts – but I saw something that I felt I wanted to write my opinion on. In three weeks at Bragging Rights, we are to see “The End” of the John Cena – Randy Orton rivalry.
After the debacle that was the “Diva Bowl” at the beginning of Raw (in fact, some Divas were still in the ring or making their exit as he entered), Randy Orton makes his standard 10 minute slinking entrance to the ring and grabs a mic. Orton says that he didn’t need help to win at Hell in A Cell. He and Cena entered the Cell alone and Orton won the title alone. He goes as far as to say “when did I need help last night to win my sixth WWE title?” He ends by saying “I know John Cena is going to come out, and he’s going to demand a rematch; I know what he’s going to say, so come on out, John…".
Cena comes out to a mild pop. He is ready to fight, but is interrupted by Orton. Orton recognizes Cena’s desire and enthusiasm to fight, but Orton denies him any opportunity for a rematch on Raw. Cena then grabs the mic and starts his speech.
Cena begins by saying how Orton doesn’t give a damn about the WWE Universe, but is a person who strives to be the best. He goes on to congratulate Orton for winning the match at Hell in a Cell, even he knows some won’t agree with that. He goes on to talk about how the two of them have had “The Rivalry” and the results have been “simply amazing”. To end his promo, Cena says he wants to do it one more time, because the people want to see it one more time. Cena proposes an Ironman match to end the rivalry.
Randy Orton agrees that it needs to end, but it will be on his terms, not Cena’s. Orton makes a counterproposal – he’ll take the Ironman match, but if Cena loses, he’s off Raw for good. Cena accepts it, but then Orton adds more stipulations; no disqualifications, no count-outs. After Cena runs through the list of tools he could use in the match and points out that it’s going to be an all-out brawl, he says “you know me better than that; I’ve never backed down from a fight! You’re on!” The match is official with a handshake, and will take place at Bragging Rights in Pittsburgh in 3 weeks.
Certain rivalries have been overdone by the WWE writers, and this is one of them. With all the variations we have watched, and most involving the championship, it will be good to see it end. Rivalries like Cena v Orton point to the lack of main-event talent behind the select few we’ve watched battle for the title recently. The one good thing is that it possibly opens up opportunity for others to enter into the main event scene.
So, this Ironman match is truly supposed to be 'the end' of this rivalry. But what's next? Where does this all go from here? As I see it, 'the end' can produce new beginnings for both men, and others. Here are two possibilities that may happen.
A loss by Randy Orton at Bragging Rights sets the stage for an Orton-DiBiase feud without the title involved. If the rumors hold true, DiBiase will make a face turn soon for “The Marine 2” promotional reasons. As DiBiase’s movie character is one of a hero, there is the sense that it would be hard to promote a movie by having the hero of the movie be a heel in the ring, which is why Creative would consider turning him face.
I do not feel that DiBiase is ready for a major title of the company – although he is ready to start taking steps into the main event scene. Feuding with DX as a part of Legacy (even in losing efforts) helped, and to feud with Orton should help him more. Having Orton drop the title makes sense for their feud, as DiBiase is not ready to carry a major championship. It also prevents an “Evolution Rerun” in terms of writing, as we saw when Randy was dumped from the group after winning the World Heavyweight Championship.
The one concern I see with Orton dropping the title to feud with DiBiase/Legacy is the lack of people for Cena to have a good feud with over the title. This is where the lack of main-event ready talent from the mid-card is going to hurt. With Kofi losing his US title tonight, does this signify that the high-flyer from Ghana will begin to step onto the main event stage? It also cheapens the championship again by having another title change within three weeks.
Orton wins the match, and by stipulation Cena is sent to another brand, with the most likely landing point being Smackdown. It may also signify a face turn for Cena. We know how mixed the crowd reaction is for him, and a loss to Orton combined with a brand change presents the perfect segway into a face change.
Not that they run the WWE or its creative department, members of the IWC have been burning up opinion lines with the need for either a face change or a gimmick change for Cena. I think the most likely direction we would see is a face change. His "doctor of thuganomics" rapper gimmick, though popular at the time, would be ho-hum now, and I just can't see them putting Cena in a similar gimmick to someone like Chris Jericho. They may keep him very much the same as he is, and just simply turn him against the very people he claims to fight for.
The one concern I see popping up is, as Vince likes to say, about the money. Cena is the WWE’s perceived most popular wrestler, and to turn him heel may cut into the merchandising revenue that rolls in as a result of that. Vince would be hesitant to turn his “cash cow” heel – but with the reception Cena generally gets now, Vince would do well to turn Cena heel. It could start fresh feuds that we haven’t seen before also.
Also, if Orton retains, then what is next for the championship? Will DiBiase contend for it? What other superstars on Raw would step up and attempt to dethrone The Viper?
Cena is scheduled to begin filming his part in a new movie in early December. With that in mind, it is my opinion that we will see him lose to Orton at Bragging Rights. With Smackdown usually being the taped program, it would likely be more schedule friendly for Cena to do both. I also feel that Orton, even though he is a heel, is being placed in a position to be the face of the Raw brand, if he isn’t already. Though I am not a fan, Orton has the physical tools and mic skills to be that man.
Hopefully whatever direction the WWE ultimately takes at Bragging Rights, it will produce a more watchable result than the numerous matches we have seen between John Cena and Randy Orton. Along the way some of the matches have been good, but seeing it so repeatedly has not made this rivalry “simply amazing” as Cena put it in his promo.
“The End” could produce a very good “beginning” of something new, if they handle it properly. Feel free to add your comments and discussion.