John Cena Talks Heel Turn; WWE Rumors on Royal Rumble Surprises and NXT 2.0 CreativeJanuary 12, 2022
Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe.
WWE Discussed Cena Heel Turn in 2012
One of the biggest matches in WWE history nearly resulted in what would have been one of the most crucial decisions of John Cena's career.
Appearing on The Pat McAfee Show (h/t Marc Middleton of Wrestling Inc.), Cena recalled a discussion he had with Vince McMahon leading up to WrestleMania XXVIII in 2012 about possibly turning heel for his first one-on-one match with The Rock:
I remember Vince toying with the idea of possibly turning me heel for The Rock, The Rock I in Miami, and I told him, like, ‘Hey, no problem, 100% I’ll do it, but just remember that this is so… we’re so deep in at this point, we can’t do it and then jump back because we’ll be sunk at both ends, so if we do it, I have to be the opposite of virtue, I have to be pure evil and we have to go all in.’
Cena noted that McMahon decided against the heel turn, and "at that point, he was like, ‘Listen, I don’t think we’re ever gonna do it.'"
WWE did try to make Cena more of a shades-of-gray character instead of the pure babyface he had been for so many years during the build to the natch.
It ultimately paid off, with WWE.com announcing after the event that WrestleMania XXVIII generated 1.3 million pay-per-view buys.
Per Wrestlenomics.com, the only WWE pay-per-view that has done more buys worldwide was WrestleMania 23.
Fans speculated for years about a possible Cena heel turn, but it never came to be. While fans often booed him at shows, there was never a good time to turn him when WWE never had another top babyface to take over that spot.
Latest Rumors on Possible Royal Rumble Surprises
WWE has already announced most of the competitors in both the men's and women's Royal Rumble, but there are still a few open spots in both matches.
Per PWInsider.com (h/t Middleton), WWE is planning on using former superstars Melina and Cameron in the women's Royal Rumble.
There are 19 confirmed participants in the women's Rumble match. Charlotte Flair, Rhea Ripley, Nikki A.S.H, Nikki Bella, Brie Bella, Natalya, Michelle McCool, Dana Brooke, Carmella, Queen Zelina Vega, Mickie James, Tamina Snuka, Kelly Kelly, Aliyah, Summer Rae, Naomi, Shayna Baszler and Lita have been announced by WWE.
Melina and Cameron would bring the total up to 21, leaving nine vacant spots.
Melina is currently working for Impact Wrestling. She had a seven-year stint in WWE from 2004 to 2011, winning the divas championship twice and women's title three times.
Cameron, who worked for WWE from 2011 to 2016, had a one-off match in AEW last year in the women's tag team cup tournament. She was paired with Nyla Rose, but they were eliminated in the first round by Anna Jay and Tay Conti.
It's interesting to see how many non-full-time WWE Superstars are being used in the women's Royal Rumble. Some of it is due to injuries, with Bayley and Sasha Banks unable to compete right now.
But it also speaks to how little effort WWE has been putting into its women's division. Outside of Flair and Becky Lynch, there isn't anyone who is being pushed.
Bianca Belair is the most likely candidate to challenge Lynch at WrestleMania given how she dropped the title at SummerSlam. The EST of WWE has not yet been announced for the match, but she would seem like the favorite right now if she participates.
WWE Making Changes to NXT 2.0 Creative
Following last week's announcement that several key members of NXT 2.0's creative team have been released by WWE, the short- and long-term creative direction of the brand are still being figured out.
Per PWInsider.com (h/t Matthew Wilkinson of Wrestling, Inc.), the current NXT 2.0 creative team will now report to WWE senior vice president Bruce Prichard and senior vice president of creative writing operations Christine Lubrano.
NXT previously operated as its own creative group, with Paul "Triple H" Levesque in charge of the show.
Triple H has been away from his role in creative since September after undergoing heart surgery.
Triple H @TripleH
I’ve been blown away by the outreach and support from so many people. I’m recovering, doing well, & deeply grateful for all the love in my life. Especially grateful for <a href="https://twitter.com/ShawnMichaels?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ShawnMichaels</a> & all the Superstars & crew <a href="https://twitter.com/WWENXT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WWENXT</a>! (Steph and the girls loved the snacks!) <br>See you soon 🙏❤️
Per an official statement from WWE.com, Triple H had surgery "following a cardiac event."
WWE rebranded the show into NXT 2.0 on Sept. 14. It became a true developmental brand with most of the wrestlers being very young, but they do work with several veteran holdovers like Tommaso Ciampa, Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne.
Listen to Ring Rust Radio for all of the hot wrestling topics. Catch the latest episode in the player below (warning: profanity).