Cena! Redemption! Return To The Top! Who's Next? WWE Championship!
And once again, the movie we've seen a thousand times plays out in the exact same way.
John Cena defeated The Rock last night (April 7) at WrestleMania 29, winning the WWE Championship for a record eleventh time. He shared a beautiful moment with The Rock, and stood tall at the top of the ramp.
While the boos cascaded down upon him.
Yes, Cena once again sits on top of the professional wrestling world. He did it the right way, by keeping his ego in check and emotions intact. He stood tall, never gave up, and did it the right way.
Which means we'll get the same old Cena we've had for the past decade, the Cena we've long grown tired of.
A chance to tell a compelling story -- gone. A moment that would have lived on in history -- missed. An opportunity to radically change the landscape of professional wrestling --
Passed by without the faintest attempt to take advantage of the occasion.
I can understand why it went down this way. John Cena will never turn heel. We can point to Hulk Hogan and say, "it happened with him". But Cena is no Hogan. If he clings on past his due date, Vince has no problem removing him from the picture.
And this time, there is no legitimate second promotion for him to jump to.
So why not ride the Cena train for all it's worth? Why not have him stay on top of the promotion for all of 2012, main event the majority of pay-per-views (PPV's), and win every feud he was involved with? And why not build up the rematch with The Rock as a story of redemption, whitewash everything that happened in the prior year, and make this a "passing of the torch" ceremony?
Why not? Because it's horrible storytelling that serves no purpose for those watching.
Are fans now supposed to love John Cena because The Rock gave us the okay? Are the smarks going to stop calling for his head because he won "the right way?" Does this win change a single person's perception on who Cena is?
In order; I hope not, hell no, and not in the slightest.
We have spent the past two years engaged in a long-term feud that spanned over three WrestleMania's. In some ways, it's was a wonderful pro wrestling storyline.
Act One: The returning star gives no respect to the current hero. Rocky costs Cena the championship belt, for no other reason than he felt it wasn't deserved.
Act Two: The two powers stand in opposition. Cena and The Rock face each other in a "Once in a Lifetime" match, with Rocky -- shockingly -- going over and claiming the victory.
Act Three: Our hero must claw his way back to greatness. Cena suffered a horrible year following his defeat, the act of losing the big one weighing ever present on his mind.
This is the Act WWE butchered, because it was too stupid or too unwilling to take any chances with its golden boy.
Dramatic Climax: Our hero rises above and finally earns the returning star's respect. John Cena defeated The Rock, clean in the middle of the ring, and the pair shared a tender moment before the NEW WWE Champion raised his hands in triumph.
Again, I have to be honest. It's a strong story to be told. I don't think it was told particularly well, mind you, but it's a story that deserved telling.
Now the question becomes, "Where the [explicit] do we go from here?"
There is a reason why The Rock vs. Hollywood Hogan at WrestleMania 18 took place at the end of Rocky's regular career. He left, he came back, he called the people of Sacramento "queens," and then he finally defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania 19. He had accomplished everything he needed to. His story, for all intents and purposes, had run dry.
WWE though, is looking to push John Cena for another decade, or more.
If the guy doesn't want to play a bad guy, fine. I understand he doesn't want to ruin the connection he has with the Make*A*Wish Foundation, or the young fans in the audience. I think that's crap, because his job is to tell stories in the ring and let everything else fall from that. The guy is such a mark for himself that he refuses to take into consideration the idea the kiddies will find a new hero to love, that if he ever left those poor children's sides they would realize how meaningless life was and find the nearest ball pit to drown in.
Okay. Whatever. I get it, John. The pro wrestling world revolves around you. You keep doing your own damn thing.
But who the hell are you going to do it against?
CM Punk is coming off a tough loss to The Undertaker, which has no shame. But he was also a victim of the "John Cena Redemption Tour," losing to the "Dr. of Thuganomics" on his way to WrestleMania. It's a feud that can be reignited at the drop of a hat.
But you have to let the damn thing breath. Piling up losses does no one any good.
Looking around the roster doesn't give much hope. The Big Show is probably the number two heel, but he seems tied up with Randy Orton and Sheamus. Rumours have John Laurinaitis coming back, but he needs someone to fight his battles for him. There's always Mark Henry, but that is a stopgap at best. Antonio Cesaro is still about a good year away from the main event scene. Wade Barrett has been pushed down to the bottom of the barrel.
There is always The Shield, but they have been booked so damn strong it will be a shame to have them fed to the insatiable monster.
Then there's the smarks constant cry of "turn everyone and their mother's heel". But, who would actually make sense? Ryback? The guy actually got over on steroids, a winning streak, and a simple catchphrase. It would be idiotic to have the fans hate him now. Chris Jericho could always turn again, but the guy has been jobbed out so badly I'm not sure how you could realistically put him in the championship picture.
In all honesty, the only person who would even remotely make sense is Daniel Bryan. Which, holy hell how awesome would that be? If CM Punk can have a five-star match with Cena, then Bryan is sure to get a six-star match out of him. (It's actually the same level as a five-star match, but it's more impressive, because this goes up to six.)
Right now, though, I don't know what WWE will do with John Cena. He's going to have an extended run with the WWE Championship, perhaps even challenging Punk's recent reign. And it's a shame, because I truly want to enjoy it. I actually like Cena. I think he can be one of the greatest of all time if he pushes himself. If he had a mind for long-term business, this run could be amazing.
However, the fear of a "reign of terror" sits in my stomach. A compelling story only occurs when there are strong forces standing in opposition, and I do not know who Cena can legitimately match up against.
It was this time last year the fans in Miami, FL made Daniel Bryan a damn star. He went from jobbing in 18-seconds, to being pushed into the WWE Championship picture. Tonight, those who fill
Madison Square Garden IZOD Center for Monday Night Raw have a chance to do the same.
Perhaps we can see a change in the professional landscape, yet.
Hopefully, this has prepared you for the night's festivities. Leave a comment below about what you are looking forward to, and please join the entire CSS Monday night gang in the live blog TONIGHT!