As Stone Cold carried the Attitude Era, and as Hulk Hogan was the face of the Golden Age (or whatever those old geezers call that particular time in wrestling), John Cena has been at the helm of the recently coined “PG Era” since his ascension to the regular main event level several years ago.
However, it did not take long for him to unintentionally become the most hated wrestler in mainstream professional wrestling to the Internet Wrestling Community (IWC). His family-friendly gimmick, overrated character, and uninspiring technical ability quickly drew the ire of the IWC.
While John Cena’s merits is a discussion for another article, it seems that a new face has emerged in the WWE, one who could threaten to overturn John Cena’s place as the poster boy of the WWE.
Randy Orton has had a turbulent career in the WWE. Even as a popular face in his earlier years, he fell far from the standards for the WWE flag bearer. It’s ironic, actually, that the seeds for his most promising face character were planted in his latest run as a heel.
Even before his eventual face turn leading up to Wrestlemania 26, fans began gravitating towards “The Legend Killer,” cheering him for regularly playing the detractor against their much loathed John Cena and another IWC-hated figure, Triple H.
Now that he’s finally made the jump to a full-fledged babyface, fans of all ages have welcomed him as an alternative (whether they recognize it or not) to the increasingly stale John Cena character.
The archetypical “silent killer” is often a big hit with audiences of any media. We see it in movies, in books, and on television. Perhaps the ability to act without concern for dialogue is refreshing compared to the classic monologue, fight, monologue scenario many forms of media overuse, especially in pro wrestling.
For fans from the Attitude Era, Randy Orton could be seen as a throwback to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, with whom he shares a common mentality of acting without regard for authority.
In terms of looks, Randy Orton has a high potential to appease fans. For men, he’s strong, heavily tattooed, and generally intimidating – a stereotypical leader for any young man, especially the insecure.
Additionally, Randy Orton has the good fortune of being sexually appealing to women. That might sound trite, but how many women have you known whose greatest interest in going to a wrestling show stems from the possibility of seeing a “smokin’ hot” John Cena?
Even though I believe John Cena is a better worker than most people give him credit for, Randy Orton is still just a cut above him, even if his style is quite oldschool and repetitive – nothing like the innovative styles of the indies the IWC has become fond of. Both have worked many quality matches, but I think Orton has just that much more potential to work better matches to beat out Cena in this category.
On the mic, though Randy Orton has lately built a reputation of choosing action over speech, he still is among the WWE’s best talkers, with a menacing voice that reflects his character.
John Cena’s biggest triumph might be Randy Orton’s only shortcoming in this comparison. While I think Orton has a more versatile appeal to fans, I don’t think he’d be able to captivate children as well as Cena can; and unfortunately for Orton, child appeal happens to be among WWE’s top priorities.
I think that as fans age and mature, so too do their tastes for professional wrestling. Invariably, this child demographic the WWE commands will grow into teenagers who call for an edgier hero than John Cena, essentially fulfilling a pro wrestling style “baby boomer” generation.
Randy Orton might one day dethrone John Cena, playing off his more theatric, family-friendly version of Stone Cold’s character to dominate the WWE landscape.
For now, we must trudge on through the cesspool of cheesy promos, one-sided matches, and inconsistent main event performances that characterize the man we all either love or love to hate, John Cena.
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