Cena, Lesnar and the Tale of Two Eras

About three years ago a promo was cut by a superstar that is no longer with the WWE. The promo would change the way that people would look at the WWE- the Reality Era

We've heard the term being bandied about by the internet wrestling community (IWC), as well as the Authority, but at its heart one couldn't help but feel that the WWE was still in essence at least partly rooted in the PG Era.

Looking back over the Cena/Lesnar title match ('title massacre' may be a more apt phrase) I couldn't help but feel that this was so much more than just a mere squash.

John Cena was a superstar built for the PG Era. As Cagesider GrecoRomanGuy astutely pointed out, he is classically handsome, inoffensive and with a muscular structure that is larger than life and thus easy for kids to identify with. But this PG orientation goes further.

His promos are mostly divided into two genres: the 'goofy humour promo' where he tries to get a few laughs by telling some juvenile jokes (such as calling Big Show 'fat', photoshopping Bray Wyatt, or dumping poo all over Ziggler and AJ), and the 'underdog promo' where he comes out and says essentially that he knows as the smaller competitor/challenger/guy-who-is-not-the-heel this is going to be the fight of his life but he will never give up.

Both these promo types are basic and easy to understand. They are by the numbers for wrestling angles because at the end of the day Cena is not addressing me as a man in my late 20s, but the kids in the audience with their t-shirts and wristbands.

Likewise, Cena's moveset is very basic- so much so that the IWC have complained about it time and time again. But, yet again, this suits his audience. His offense is about winning, not about hurting. His five moves of doom consists of two shoulder blocks- which are essentially just soft tackles. You never see Cena teeing off against some guy in the corner like the Undertaker does, nor do you see him ever kick a guy when he's down. Plenty of faces in today's WWE do that, but not Cena.

His AA is simple, easy to do and very difficult to botch. Furthermore, everytime he lifts someone like Big Show on his shoulders, kids cheer. It's an amazing moment. His STF is a pretty crummy submission hold but for Cena it's perfect. It's not brutal, can be set up almost out of nowhere, it allows him to catch his breath without exerting too much energy in the hold and again is really difficult to botch.

So while PG was ruling the roost, it seemed hard to see why Cena could lose his dominion as the face of the company.

And then CM Punk cut that promo.

Since then the guys who are now challenging for the top of the card in the WWE are not the guys that the WWE thought could be the next John Cena (see: Sheamus) but ones that are in fact polar opposites of Cena in many ways.

Take CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. Brilliant wrestlers who have a myriad of moves taken from MMA. Their submissions are brutal looking and their matches high octane. Both bring legitimacy with every move seeming to hurt. Likewise they were not pushed by a corporate machine but rather great in ring performances that lent themselves to becoming massively popular babyfaces for the fans.

On the microphone the big talkers these days are Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt. Guys who are more interested in captivating an audience through intensity and character quirks rather than formulaic promos that are seen to have worked before. Indeed, Ambrose and Wyatt are far more willing to take risks in order to captivate their audience. Both are also brilliant ring psychologists- using their character quirks to help enhance their already prominent wrestling abilities- on a much deeper level than waving a hand in front of their face.

That's not even talking about the massive potential of Seth Rollins, Luke Harper, Cesaro and Roman Reigns.

So when I looked at the Summerslam match on Sunday night. I found myself thinking that this wasn't just Cena attempting to stave off the rampage of Lesnar. It was like this was Cena's last attempt to try and stave off the Reality Era.

All Brock did was F5, Suplex, ground-and-pound and knee. Because he knew it was how he was going to win.

When Cena did try and throw fists and tee off against Lesnar he looked bereft- a man who was out of his comfort zone. John Cena doesn't throw bombs. John Cena does the Five Knuckle Shuffle (the move I mean, not the- oh never mind). But that move against Brock Lesnar was not going to win the match. And more and more over the past 3 years that move has seemed like a anachronism- better suited for another time and place.

Likewise there was no Superman comeback out of nowhere. A wrestler like CM Punk or Bryan would have tried to target an area like a stomach or a leg or something. John Cena does not work like that. He works on the mantra that he will 'never give up'- that he will simply have the will to win the match. While there wasn't any blood or urine or vomit, he didn't get up after the second F5.

All this is kayfabe. of course, but no face of the company has had the torch more forcefully ripped from their hands than Cena did at Summerslam. Will he get a rematch? Probably, and if he does I wouldn't be surprised if he pushed Lesnar more.

But while everyone is questioning what will happen with Lesnar and the title now, perhaps a more pertinent question is what is going to happen to Cena. One thing is for sure, no longer will he be one and only default go to figure of this company.

Because 'Reality' has set in.

The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.