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Why won't WWE turn John Cena heel?

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That question, asked so relentlessly and full of false hope, can be answered quite simply. So simple, in fact, that it's a marvel more dissenters haven't just realized it, accepted it and moved forward.

WWE won't turn John Cena heel because the fans have already done so.

That's not an all encompassing statement, of course. Not everyone hates this man. Quite the opposite, in fact. There's a rather large segment of the fanbase that adores him, so much so, they purchase his merchandise more than any other superstar on the entire WWE roster.

And therein lies the rub.

Heels, with the exception of super-groups like the nWo, don't sell merchandise. And why would they? If the characterization for wrestler being a heel is that he plays on the fact that fans hate his stinkin' guts, naturally, fans won't buy the gear said heel wears to the ring.

But what if WWE could have the best of both worlds? A monster heel who half the fans despise and the other half adores, who will tune in to see his matches, purchase tickets to his shows and drop some coin on his gear on the way out. That's who John Cena is and that's who he should be because, whether the dissenters and smarks want to admit it or not, it's the smartest way to go about booking his character. 

Dave Meltzer breaks it down in his latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter:

There are a lot of issues with turning Cena, including fear of alienating that fan base, his merchandise and all of his charity work. They've learned the lesson of the failed 2001 Steve Austin turn where business went down hard and fast and never recovered, with the idea that because Austin had brought so many people to the table, that his being a heel made them check out. Even though Cena is no Austin, he also has brought a lot of people to the table. In the past, while Cena being turned has at times been open for discussion, the talks usually end based on his merchandise sales. C.M. Punk may have passed him (Punk claims he has and I'm sure he did in August which was the big month but then September was down from the prior year), but it was noted that Cena is a proven long term merchandise seller while Punk had one big month and fell greatly. In addition, reportedly just this last week Vince noted that when you look at the people who move ratings, that Cena is far and away the biggest (except for Rock who is part-time) and the only person on the roster you can count on to move numbers. There is no guarantee with a heel turn that will still be the case. There have been babyfaces who were big ratings draws that were turned heel and their ratings drawing power went way down.

If I remember correctly, the 2001 Austin heel turn occurred at WrestleMania 17 against, wait for it ... The Rock. And it went over like a lead balloon. Austin turned and won the match through nefarious means with the help of Vince McMahon and the crowd still popped just as big as they would have had he won without turning. Stone Cold has gone on record since then stating he thought it was a terrible idea to turn him heel because the fans weren't ready for it, and he was right.

Some of those same fans are now clamoring for Cena to turn heel against The Rock, possibly even at WrestleMania 28. If we're just looking at this through the storyline lens, then that would make a great deal of sense. After all, Cena has been here for the fans since day one, still wrestling while shooting his movies, as opposed to Rock, who bailed for seven years to become a full on movie star. Even if the angle is tired, it works better than most storylines because it mixes shoot with work.

However, as stated, turning Cena can only happen if there is a big enough babyface to replace him, both at the top of the card in the main event of major pay-per-views, at the box office and in stores across the globe. Does WWE have that guy on the roster? Right now, the answer is no. CM Punk, as great as his 2011 campaign has been, still isn't on the level of a major superstar who can maintain his spot at the top.

So, no matter how much a large segment of the fanbase dislikes it, Cena is not turning heel any time soon. And that's the right decision to make.

Because hey -- if you don't like him, boo him. You will anyway.

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