Polar Opposites: How the CM Punk vs John Cena Feud Represents a Divided WWE
This new year brings in many promises and resolutions. Promises that are broken and resolutions that are abandoned are often the case by the end of January.
On this site, I always enjoy reading high-quality articles with meticulous insight. Therefore, I resolve to not focus on quantity as much as quality.
Back to the task at hand.
The December 28 episode of Raw officially kick-started a feud with massive potential.
"CM Punk! CM Punk!" The primarily adult male section of the Albany crowd chanted as the Straight Edge superstar donned the black and gold armband of Nexus.
"Cena! Cena! Cena!" The kids and women mainly cried out as John Cena cut a cheesy promo on Punk and Nexus at the end of the episode.
This ongoing Cena-Nexus saga has once again overshadowed the WWE Championship. Nobody seems to focus on the Miz-Orton feud leading into Royal Rumble.
Instead, everyone talks about the Punk-Cena-Nexus axiom that has taken place. Cena's injury has perhaps slowed down the feud between Punk and Cena but it should pick up come Wrestlemania.
If you did not watch the previous episode of Raw, here is a major update. CM Punk has officially replaced Wade Barrett as the new leader of Nexus. Barrett is no longer a part of Nexus.
Who are you rooting for in this feud?
Whether WWE made a wise decision having CM Punk replace Barrett as leader of Nexus is a moot point.
What will be discussed are the various dimensions and differences this feud takes on. There are differences inside and outside the ring.
It is more than a basic good guy vs. bad guy feud.
CM Punk's fans vs John Cena's fans
In general, the CM Punk fans fall into that male 18- to 35-year-old demographic that the PG era has somewhat driven off.
As we all know the John Cena fans consist of women, kids, and anyone else who loves the man.
At Albany this observation became clear when the male 18- to 35-year-old demographic was pulling for Punk while the women and kids backed Cena.
Why is this so?
For starters, Cena haters typically fall into that demographic. These haters are more likely to be chanting "CM Punk! CM Punk!"
On the flip side Cena fans chant "CM Sucks! CM Sucks!" because John Cena implores them to do so.
Age groups are generally divided with the men cheering for Punk and the women and kids cheering for Cena. Note this is not always the case.
PG Era vs Attitude Era
It is no secret the embodiment of the PG era is a certain John Felix Anthony Cena. While this is not necessarily fair or true this is the perception of the fans.
In all actuality, Cena is one of the wrestlers most hindered by the PG era. He had to change his entire gimmick and his two finishing moves just to adjust to the PG rating.
Now, Cena has to be the corny PG superstar because his boss told him to.
CM Punk's disturbing Charles Manson shirt is the embodiment of pushing the PG envelope. While he was the leader of the Straight Edge Society he definitely had some crazy cult leader gimmick.
Perhaps he gains such popularity because he represents a glimpse of the past glories of the Attitude Era. Or just simply Punk as a heel has an amazing ability to connect to fans.
From a fan's perspective, CM Punk represents TV 14 while WWE's Superman embodies PG.
IWC Hero CM Punk vs IWC Pariah John Cena
This is pretty self-explanatory.
CM Punk came to WWE prominence by hitting the independent circuit. Punk has wrestled in numerous smaller promotions, ROH, and even a brief stint in TNA. This wrestling upbringing has endeared Punk to the IWC along with his amazing mic and ring skills.
John Cena was born and bred a WWE guy. He wrestled in WWE's developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling before going to Smackdown in 2002. Cena's lack of independent background has somewhat alienated the die hard wrestling fans who like wrestlers coming from independent wrestling promotions.
Of course, some people chant "you can't wrestle!" to Cena. Just YouTube the ECW One Night Stand pay-per-view when he faced Rob Van Dam to realize why these hardcore fans dislike Cena.
CM Punk is a man who garners intense heat from fans who remember his feuds with Jeff Hardy and Rey Mysterio. Yes, jobbing to Mysterio and ending Hardy's WWE career put him over as a heel.
John Cena is a man who is the embodiment of hustle, loyalty and respect. Cena hustled his way to the top by defeating John Bradshaw Layfield at Wrestlemania 21. His loyalty and respect to Vince McMahon and WWE has endeared him to the WWE Chairman and CEO.
CM Punk fits all the prerequisites (mic skills, ring skills, independent background) to the IWC. John Cena fits all the prerequisites (mic skills, chiseled physique, size, and loyalty) to Vince McMahon.
On a lighter note, here are some lesser known differences between John Cena and CM Punk.
Rockstar vs. Rapper
This lesser known facet of the emerging rivalry resonates with musically inclined people. To some people John Cena comes off as a wannabe Eminem when he had the rapper gimmick. CM Punk, with his tattoos and jeans, comes off as a rock star.
Cena comes out to blaring rap music while CM Punk comes out to punk rock music.
Numerous tattoos adorn CM Punk's body. Not a single tattoo is to be found on John Cena's chiseled body. No offense to Punk, but he is nowhere near as ripped as Cena. John Cena always wears a purple shirt and jean shorts whereas Punk often wears a t-shirt and trunks or jeans.
Chicago native CM Punk has made clear his allegiance to the Chicago Cubs. John Cena has shifted between his hometown Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays for his favorite team.
City Slicker vs Small Town Kid
As mentioned before, CM Punk is from Chicago. John Cena hails from the small town of West Newbury, Massachusetts.
While all of these minor differences give extra dimensions to the feud it is only a fraction of the basis for the feud.
Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect vs Straight Edge
Here is the root of the differences. CM Punk is the ultimate heel while John Cena represents the ultimate face.
CM Punk is the epitome of evil. Just remember his recent feud with Rey Mysterio. When he had the cult leader SES gimmick going on the man seemed genuinely evil.
John Cena is the epitome of good. His hustle, loyalty, and respect mantra is an inspiration to children throughout the WWE Universe. Like Hulk Hogan back in the 80s he always prevailed over evil in the end.
Socially and even politically there is another facet in this difference.
John Cena represents the "old school" values (flashback to the 1950s) typically associated with rural, conservative Americans.
CM Punk represents the "new school" values (flashback to the hippie era) usually associated with urban, liberal Americans.
However Punk's Straight Edge lifestyle is a refutation of the drugs, alcohol, and sex related to the hippie lifestyle. Nevertheless he still represents that rebellion of old fashioned values.
When it's all said and done the WWE Universe will be divided between the polarizing face Cena and the charismatic and popular heel in CM Punk.
Winner vs. Loser
To further infuriate the IWC CM Punk has jobbed to the likes of Rey Mysterio and that overgrown 7-foot, 500-pound bag of monkey crap the Big Show.
John Cena has come out on top in his major feuds against Batista and the Wade Barrett-led Nexus. It always seems Cena ends up winning.
That is why the IWC must hate Cena. Right?
CM Punk's momentum has been stalled while Superman is well Superman.
All in all, with injuries permitting CM Punk and John Cena should meet in that squared circle in the Georgia Dome at Wrestlemania 27. The plethora of differences laid out in this article will come to a head.
Hopefully the Georgia Dome will be split right down the middle between John Cena and CM Punk.
This is beyond a typical face vs. heel match.
WWE has lacked a true character vs. character feud. CM Punk and John Cena's feud has the potential to create a meaningful feud that fans can be interested in if booked correctly.
Who would you want to see John Cena feud with at Wrestlemania?
Just think about these differences and remember why this feud has so much potential. It could easily be the feud of 2011 if WWE handles it properly.
What better way to sum it up than the regular chant involving John Cena.
"Let's go Cena! Cena sucks!" But this time it's with a twist. "Let's go Cena! CM Punk!"
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