John Cena and the Dark Side: The Heel Turn Has Already Happened
“Every one is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.”
~ Mark Twain
If you scour the Internet Wrestling Community in search of articles based around John Cena, arguably the biggest name in wrestling over the past six years, for more than 10 minutes, you'll likely see at least a half dozen articles that cry, clamor, justify, and emphatically vociferate the reasons why John Cena should turn to the dark side by turning heel.
A move that would surely rock everyone and everything to its core, perhaps reverberating even further then when a certain other "Super Being" performed a leg drop on the entire establishment of the wrestling industry.
A John Cena heel turn would certainty re-ignite the dying flame of a superstar who has reached his pinnacle. There is nothing left for John Cena's current character to do, to feud with...to conquer.
Perhaps the only thing left for Cena to accomplish is to climb the final rung on his quest for perpetuating immortality. To climb his Everest. To defeat the Rock at WrestleMania.
With his journey towards the showcase of immortals now underway, John Cena, a polarizing figure beloved and equally loathed by millions, can now hear the once echoes of his dissenters growing exponentially with each passing day.
The echoes have now risen to such a scream that it is all to obvious the universe has seen enough of "Boy Scout" John Cena, and demands he either turn heel or perhaps disappear all together.
What better time and place for the WWE to pull the trigger on this loaded cannon with his encounter with The Rock only four months away?
Could there be a better time than now to turn him heel?
But, what exactly is the definition of a wrestling heel?
The term "heel" is most likely derived from a slang usage of the word that first appeared around 1914, meaning "contemptible person." Common heel behavior includes cheating to win (e.g., using the ropes for leverage while pinning or attacking with foreign objects while the referee is looking away), attacking other wrestlers backstage, interfering with other wrestlers' matches, insulting the fans (referred to as cheap heat), and acting in a haughty or superior manner.
Perhaps it's time to take pause and to realize that we might never see this definition of Cena come to fruition. His stature as the face of the WWE is permanently engrained with a young fan base, casual fans, and adults alike. The WWE simply does not need nor should they turn Cena's character "heel."
... It's already happened.
John Cena has slowly become one of the greatest heels the wrestling industry has ever seen. He now easily draws more heat than all of the labeled heels combined.
While the masses cheer him for his outstanding virtues, loyalty to them, his faith in the WWE product, charity work, constant hard work to promote a product we all love, the way he presents himself, and his immense respect for our military men and women; there are just as many that have elected to show their undying hate for the way his character is presented, the fact he never loses clean, and the "PG" symbol he stands for.
A symbol that has left the WWE in a state of despair as it tries to find itself amongst its now toned down, family-friendly image that, while opening the door to new marketing and revenue streams, has crippled its fan base that grew up watching the "Attitude Era" and all the mayhem and chaos that came with it.
John Cena, as the poster boy of the PG Era, is a wide open, prime time target for all of the unadulterated hatred that we see each and every week.
Cena relishes the heat. He wants it. He expects it. He loves it. He has single-handedly unlocked the core of the WWE universe and unleashed all of its pent-up frustration, love, anger, respect, loyalty, and darkness upon himself. Splitting the universe in half with the process.
While still the "boy scout who never gives up," Cena now laughs in the face of those who dissent against him while acknowledging and performing admirably for those who adore him.
He has become something the WWE has always needed. The ultimate face/heel who has the ability to draw a massive reaction (good or bad) no matter where he performs. He has truly transcended any and all character stereotypes that ever existed within the WWE Universe.
While the return of The Rock and the rise of CM Punk have helped in this cause, it is Cena who takes most of the credit along with WWE management for not only acknowledging the growing change in crowd reaction, but for developing his character to where it is today.
While Cena continues to feud with "heels" of the WWE, which by WWE law makes him a "face," there is something inherently different about his matches now. Those who dissent against Cena now cheer for the heels he faces...which by WWE law makes Cena the heel.
Do we really need an obvious heel turn? Wouldn't that ruin the polarizing fascination we all have with John Cena? As the booing grows louder every week, Cena, in true heel fashion, continues to win.
With every "You can't see me" handshake to his opponents gaining him more loathing from the haters, there also comes more love and respect from those who adore him.
Turning John Cena into a standardized heel, while having a wildly successful and intriguing short term impact, could potentially sabotage Cena's career as well as the WWE product in the long run.
The Man In the Mirror
People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.
Imagine Cena standing at the base of a long winding road towards the top of a mountain (WrestleMania). A path that he will no doubt scale, but along the way he is met and greeted by fellow travelers who offer their insight, advice and guidance.
Imagine Cena setting forth on a career-defining journey that will display just who John Cena truly is, now that that half of the universe has rebelled against him and everything he stands for, on his path towards a clash with his rightful arch-nemesis, The Rock.
John Cena now finds himself on a quest. A quest to find himself. We've already seen the early incarnations of his voyage in his interactions with Foley and Piper.
They have each attempted to sway Cena in a certain approach in order to elicit a change in his character to acknowledge the growing hatred building against him..
Cena, in typical Cena fashion, has brushed their advances off choosing to only acknowledge those that adore him while insisting he does not care what "the others" think about him (true heel move).
He claims to have found peace within himself and elects to stick to his morals, beliefs, and loyalty to the millions that inhabit Cenation.
How do you dissent against a man so strongly beset in his beliefs? His virtues, morals, and hard work are of a good nature, not an evil one. Are we to believe that Cena will one day forget all of those who love and adore him because those who don't believe in his character have started a rebellion?
Cena, so far, has stayed reserved and appreciative of those who continue to stand by him. However, something that was never seen in Cena before is showing the faintest signs of who his true character is. Cena has now been humbled and shows it. Not a trait associated with heels.
Only time will tell whether Cena becomes the "heel" everyone clamors for. It's important for us all to realize what the WWE now has with this John Cena character...
... and whether the change some seek might have already happened, but weren't paying close attention.
Perhaps we've seen the incarnation of a new breed of heel.
A pure hand needs no glove to cover it.
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