Although the John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt feud has had its problems -- which may be the understatement of the year -- WWE more or less hit the reset button on Monday night's episode of Raw in Albany. Cena wasn't on that show, the creative team instead allowing Wyatt to cut a promo on the strength of his "victory" over Cena at Extreme Rules the night before.
How they got there made little sense, but they got there and it's time to move forward to the next chapter, even if the last one was awful.
Well, Wyatt's promo was clear: Now that he's defeated Cena, he has attained a certain status that gives him the platform he needed to ascend to what he believes is his throne, as the leader of all, as your one true god. Now that he has the children on his side, having taken them from Cena, he will burn this world down and recreate it in his image.
I'll reprint his promo in this space:
"Abigail always told me that I was born to lead. She said 'one day, Bray, you will change the world.' And I believed her. I always believed her. But this world we live in, this horrible world we live in, it has very wicked ways about it. And they would always snub their nose up at me, they would always look down on me, they would always refer to me as a piece of trash and a nobody. And they don't even know it but those people have made this day so sweet for me and oh what a glorious day it is because last night I, Bray Wyatt, became somebody. Last night, John Cena's fear was personified by that of a singing child.
"The mighty John Cena falling to a child. You can't fool the children, John, for they are the foundation of what tomorrow shall bring. Their ears are so eager to hear and their minds are so eager to learn and their innocent little eyes see right through you, John Cena.
"John Cena tells all of you that I am a monster. And he is right. I am a monster. And oh how cruel I can be. He would also have you believe that my message, my honorable message, is nothing but lies and that I only wish to watch the world burn. And I have to give it to you John, you're right again. I do wish to watch this world burn. I wish to watch it burn as a farmer watches his spoiled crops burn, so they may rise up again. This world must be burned down so that it can be reborn. And it will be reborn in my image, the image of Wyatt.
"John Cena thinks that I do this, everything that I do, all of this, I only do it for myself. And that, my friends, that is where John Cena is dead wrong. I do this for the children. I do this for the poor man that stands day and night begging on the street starving because they didn't think he was smart enough to live in this world. I do this for the teenage girl who wakes up crying looking in the mirror because they didn't think she was beautiful enough to be the prom queen. I do this for each and every one of you.
"And as of today and every day going forward, John Cena stands alone. And alone he shall fall. But you children shall stand with me and you don't ever have to be alone again. And you won't remember me as a monster but you will remember me for what I truly am ... a god."
This led to Cena's response on last night's episode of Main Event and, all things considered, it was just about perfect.
Here's the brief clip WWE released, but the full text is below it:
"Very interesting tactics from an interesting man. Bray Wyatt is interesting. He tried to turn me into a monster, he's like nothing I've ever seen, and well, from what I've heard lately, I guess he's got the whole world in his hands.
"You know, for months I've been trying to tell all of you how dangerous Bray Wyatt really is. But I can't make you listen. So if you want to follow the buzzards, I cannot stop you. I can't, and I shouldn't want to. Because you should have the power to make up your own minds. So, as much as I may not like it, if you all want to go and join the Wyatt Family, I have to let you go.
"But when you follow the buzzards, what are you really following? And when you follow something, you believe in it. So, basically, I'm asking about the Wyatt Family, what is it that you believe in?
"Is it the song? 'He's got the whole world in his hands, he's got the whole world in his hands'. Catchy, right? Everybody loves to sing along, it's catchy. But did anybody ever ask where that song came from? Have you ever really listened to the words? 'He' has the whole world in 'His' hands.
"Oh, wait a second, maybe it's this. Maybe it's this, the mask. Masks are fun, we all wear costumes for Halloween, there's a ton of different ones. Adam Rose has got a bunch of different people that wear masks, it's a party all the time with them. But of all the masks, Bray Wyatt could have made, he said if you want to follow the Wyatt's you must wear the face of a sheep.
"And then there's Bray Wyatt, the man himself, who speaks with so much charisma and captivates the audience. But have any of you ever listened to what Bray Wyatt actually says?
"So I come here tonight with one question: What do you believe in?
"Because in life, if you don't stand for something, you are sure to fall for everything. I can answer that question in a heartbeat. Each night, I wear it on my sleeve; I wear it on my chest; I wear it on my hat; I wear it on my shoes; This is what I believe.
"My name is John Cena. I am not a god, I am a man. And I am a man who still believes in respect, in honor, and in hard work. And my message, my message is clear as day: no matter what the fight, no matter how tough the odds, you never give up. I'm a man who also understands that I may have to fight Bray Wyatt alone. But as a man I was raised to fight for what I believe in. And here in the WWE, the competition may change, the color of my t-shirt may change, the WWE Universe itself may change; but my resolve and my message does not.
"You never give up, even if I'm the last man standing. You never give up. My name is John Cena. This is my message. This is what I believe in."
Whereas Wyatt wants to rebuild the world in his own image, Cena wants you to make your own decisions. He actually respects you and your ability to do so, unlike Wyatt, who believes himself to be your god.
But while you are free to make your own decision, Cena appeals to you to consider the devil may be leading you to a place you ultimately do not want to go. At no point does Cena ask the fans to follow him; he simply reminds them that he will continue to hope they never give up, just like he won't, and stand up for what they believe in, just like he does and will continue to do in his ongoing war with Wyatt.
Now it's up to the fans to pick their side. WWE beautifully crafted good vs. evil here, and turned this feud around in the space of two promo segments on two separate shows.
Let's hope they can keep this going headed for the inevitable third showdown at Payback on June 1 in Chicago.