I have read many well written articles this week about the always controversial John Cena. Cena continues to be the target of both blind hatred and undying fanboyism. Some think the writers have made the fans split on Cena, while others blame the fans for not embracing the holy Cena.
Who is REALLY right?
In order to understand the John Cena debate we must go back and fully remember how we got to this point. How did we, the fans, become so divided?
John Cena took off at a weird time in WWE history. It was a time when the “Attitude Era” was ending and the new “PG Era” was on the horizon.
A new generation of younger fans came into the picture after Vince McMahon crushed WCW and ECW. His was the only major company standing now (sorry, TNA).
Without competition there was no reason to “push the envelope.” The only thing left to do now was create a highly marketable product, geared towards a larger audience, and make money.
The WWE did that. They began catering more to the younger audience instead of us, the Attitude Era fans. The WWE knew we were too loyal to leave, so they changed their focus in order to gain a new generation of viewers.
Enter John Cena.
Cena had worked up the hard way as most stars had before him. He was forced to do a gimmick until he was a ripe enough character to lead the company. Shawn Michaels, the Rock, Austin and many more had done similar stints before him.
However, Cena was given a new generation to lead. He had the task to cater to a new group of fans that were younger. He was silly at times but still tough as he would never give up, and always seemed to find a way to win.
The older fans did not enjoy the regression and simplicity of the storylines, and of Cena’s character. This was okay to watch when we were eight years old and Bret Hart was catering to us, but we were beyond all of that now.
The years have passed and John Cena keeps winning, beating virtually everyone. His merchandise sells, his message is positive and the kids eat it up. In fact the only people not happy are the older fans. We feel cheated as we had grown up watching great storylines loaded with superstars, controversy, sex appeal and adult themes. All of this kiddie stuff involving Cena is beneath the older fans.
Perhaps we feel like the WWE should only market to our generation and continue to market to us forever.
Now that the history lesson is over, we must analyze why MOST older fans cringe at John Cena’s name. I made sure to say “most” since some people like to point out that there are fans over the age of 20 that like Cena.
The biggest debate on why fans resent John Cena has been “do we blame Cena himself or do we blame WWE Creative?” Some even suggest that the writers are so sharp that it is THEY who caused the fans to be divided. After all, controversy is always good for business, especially when it surrounds the face of the company.
Considering that most fans seem to think the biggest problem with the WWE currently is their writing and storylines, I find it hard to believe the writers were clever enough to cause the great divide.
Could it be that all fans do is complicate the debate by coming up with outrageous theories and justifications for Cena? Is it possible the character has just become stale to older fans?
Some people like to compare Hogan and Cena (ridiculous, I know) so I will do it just to prove a point.
When Hogan left WWE and went to WCW his character was stale. Sure, he was over and he was still Hulk Hogan, but not as many fans cared. All of a sudden he turned heel, led the greatest stable of all time and became the biggest superstar to enter the ring since…Hulk Hogan in the 1980s.
Older fans want John Cena to turn heel, and are immediately condemned by his supporters. Why? If Cena turned heel he would probably be cheered for doing it at this point. People do not hate John Cena because he can’t wrestle, he has no charisma or that he caters to children. Those are just reasons made to insult him.
The real reason he is hated is because his run has lasted longer than some of the greats, and he STILL hasn’t changed. It’s the same product over and over and over.
Instead of Hogan, people should compare Cena to Bret Hart. Bret was so over with kids. I remember because I was one of them. As I grew older, Bret was still doing the same things and began to feel stale. I found myself favoring Shawn Michaels, Psycho Sid and Sunny over Bret.
It wasn’t until he became a heel when I remembered how good he really was. There I was booing my former idol, but secretly enjoying his new found success.
Bret Hart had a successful run as WWE Champion. He captured his first WWE Championship in late 1992, and the last time he held the title was in late 1997. Five years total of being a main eventer in the WWE. He was not the only face either, as he shared the stage with Diesel, Lex Luger, Shawn Michaels, Psycho Sid, the Undertaker and others during those years.
How many years has John Cena been the unquestioned face of the company? My point exactly.
We can blame WWE Creative, but this is scripted wrestling. Couldn’t we always blame them? This excuse is a cop out. If this was the case then creative could market anyone to be the face of the company.
It would also be unwise to think that the Cena controversy will continue to generate money. I agree that for now the WWE is enjoying the benefits of the fans being split. However, if you anger the older fans long enough they will tune the show out and stop buying tickets. The WWE still needs them. Ratings are low right now, which is why they seem to be pushing CM Punk next to Cena in an attempt to appease both the young and old alike.
In the end does John Cena deserve all the hate the fans bring down on him? No. However, we need to stop justifying John Cena and how everything should remain the same forever. The WWE has always evolved. Every major star in wrestling, including Hogan, has gotten stale at one time or another.
John Cena is no different.
There is no conspiracy from WWE Creative. There is no desire from all older fans to return to the Attitude era and relive it. All we want to do is move forward from the same storylines and characters that we have seen for years now. John Cena just so happens to be the face of the company at a time where everything has remained the same for too long. Instead of justifying it and keeping the status quo we should be making our voices heard.
As always, a reminder to follow me on Twitter @ClassicJoeyMac.