John Cena is supposed to be the face of the WWE. This is the man we are supposed to love and cheer for. We all know, however, that this is simply not the case.
To say that he receives a split response is to be quite generous. Cena has a huge following, no doubt about that. But there are plenty more that absolutely hate what he does and represents. He is a superhero in a time when we love supervillains. He rises above hate when all we want is for him to succumb to it.
Cena is a man who is trapped within his own character, and refuses to change.
The Rock is supposed to represent the glory days of the Attitude Era. He is supposed to be the one who we all rally behind. Those disenfranchised with today's product are supposed to look at him as some sort of savior.
The funny thing is, The Rock has done nothing to earn this title.
He shows up only occasionally, sometimes via satellite, video promo, a single episode of Raw here and there and even the Survivor Series pay-per-view (PPV). He says his catchphrases, smiles his million dollar smile, and walks away. This is the man that is supposed to change the landscape of Cena's WWE?
Can anyone tell me why Cena vs. The Rock is even happening?
John Cena has been involved in an interesting battle with Kane for the past two months. Cena has been trying his best to rise above hate, while Kane is doing his part to make Cena surrender to it. I have loved this feud from the very beginning. It had a classic movie feel to it. It was a tale of good versus evil, and one that had a lot of potential.
As the weeks rolled on, though something that started out epic became increasingly campy. However, it actually worked out very well. Last week's episode of Raw (Feb. 13) was the highpoint of the feud. Cena, in an attempt to be a hero and save Eve, ending up stabbing his friend Zack Ryder in the back by making out with his girlfriend. We had finally found Cena's tragic flaw.
He was too perfect, too good, too much of a hero. His good deed wound up stealing his best friend's girl, and his friendship was the cause of Ryder's multiple attacks from Kane.
The Elimination Chamber was supposed to offer the next chapter of this story. This was the night when Cena would suffer defeat at the hands of Kane, or would be forced to finally embrace the hate. Cena was the cause of Ryder's suffering. He would have to pay for his actions, or renounce his good intentions. Getting slapped by Ryder did more for Cena's character then years of screaming into the microphone or winning championships. He had the chance to be one of the most entertaining characters on the WWE roster, as opposed to the same old goofy jokester who beats everybody.
And yet, we get nothing.
What has The Rock been doing during all of this? Absolutely nothing. Dwayne Johnson has done little besides pop off on Twitter and promote his crappy movies, and yet he is guaranteed the main event spot at WrestleMania 28. He is living off the goodwill of his past successes. When he shows up on Raw (rumored to be on Feb. 27) he will be cheered like a returning hero. He has contributed absolutely nothing to this feud, though. We attack Cena for not changing his character, and rightfully so. But what has The Rock done since he left the WWE? How has he helped the product -- and Cena for that matter -- in any way, shape or form?
Every pro wrestling fan in the world knows Cena will face The Rock at WrestleMania 28. But what no one can tell you is why it is happening. Oh, there are plenty of reasons WWE has given us. It is the clash of two icons, each representing a different generation. These are two men who are not friends, and who are openly hostile with each other over social networking sites and in video promos. They are type A personalities who will do battle in the middle of the squared circle to declare who is A+.
Those are all "reasons" for the match, but none are actually an explanation. A match has to have implications for existing. Championship belts give people who might not have beef a reason to bash each other's head in. For non-championship match-ups, it is usually for pro wrestlers to position themselves for the title. That makes sense. People want something shiny around their waist, so they beat each other up for it. You can have pride or honor on the line, of course, but there needs to be an overreaching goal.
In instances where the championship is not important, there is something else that holds meaning. Everyone wants to face the Undertake at WrestleMania because his streak is so legendary it transcends any title. Pro wrestles often find their careers on the line. Factions wage war on each other for control of the entire show. The list goes on and on. These are good reasons to have a match.
So what are John Cena and The Rock fighting for? If anyone could give me a reason, it would be the first I've heard it. This is a storyline that should write itself. And yet, not a single word actually leads anywhere. If The Rock wins, what happens? Nothing, as far as I can tell. He gets to brag on Twitter while shooting his next movie. If John Cena wins, what happens? Nothing, I guess. He continues to be loved and hated by those who love and hate him. Neither gets a title. No one takes control of the WWE. There is nothing gained but a victory in a sport where wins are meaningless. For the biggest moment in WrestleMania history, there is absolutely nothing at stake.
And that, in a long-winded fashion, brings us back to the problem at hand. John Cena ends the Elimination Chamber PPV pointing at the WrestleMania 28 sign while Kane is being driven off in an ambulance, as if his victory had any implications on his main event status. The Cena vs. Kane match could have had any number of outcomes that would further the storyline. Just as Cena is trapped within his character, though, his story is trapped within his next match. Any different result of his contest with Kane would mean Cena would change. And because The Rock vs. John Cena has been locked in place for the past 11 months, change is not allowed.
This single match has ruined any and all chance for Cena to do something interesting, different, daring, or bold. John Cena could have cemented his place in pro wrestling history. The greatest pro wrestlers have to change their characters to achieve immortality. Shawn Michaels, Hulk Hogan, Sting, Steve Austin, the list goes on and on. Hell, The Rock himself is the poster child of changing characters to fit the story. This should have been the moment when the past weeks, months, and years of potential paid off.
Instead, we see the same old Cena.
And it sucks.