FATP: Is John Cena WWE’s only true Superstar?
Happy Tuesday and welcome to the latest edition of FATP here on Wrestling Rambles. After careful consideration, I’ve decided to make the FATP columns that I write here exclusive to the site. It’s a little more work, but I don’t mind. The feedback is great, just like it was on last week’s TNA column. I don’t write about them often, but when I do, I try to make it as positive as I can because I genuinely enjoy watching TNA and I’m looking forward to watching Bound for Glory tomorrow night!
Anyway, let’s get cracking with this week’s topic, which sees me returning to the well to talk about John Cena and the WWE. For anyone that’s read my blogs before, it’d be fair to say that I’m not a fan of John Cena’s on-screen character. I’ve gone into it before, so I won’t bother again.
On that basis, this is a very hard thing for me to admit. Right now, at this point in time, WWE only have one true superstar: John Cena. I swear that it almost killed me to write that last sentence, but it’s the truth. A superstar is widely defined as someone who: “is an acclaimed star, who has great popular appeal in sports or movies; one that is extremely popular or prominent or that is a major attraction”. Going by that definition, John Cena ticks all those boxes.
Even the strongest Cena haters (myself included) have to admit that the man shifts merchandise, he sells tickets, he gets people watching and he ALWAYS draws a reaction from the crowd. He’s able to connect with the audience, regardless of the reaction he gets and right now, he’s the WWE’s franchise player. I could sit here and bitch about the fact that he’s had the longest sustained push of anyone in the WWE over the last 7 years, but I’ve already done that and made my point. What I’m trying to establish is whether or not he’s the only “Superstar” on the WWE roster.
The evidence leads me to believe that he is the only superstar that the WWE have. My own vision of a superstar is someone that’s larger than life, someone who’s got mass appeal, someone who stands out as the figurehead of a company. Cena fits the bill. He’s relatively clean-cut. He’s the WWE’s poster boy and no matter how you cut it, he’s got one thing that very few men have: the unconditional backing of Vince McMahon.
Nobody else gets pushed more than John Cena. At times, he’s pushed as if he’s figuratively above the WWE. Whether it’s right or wrong, that’s what a superstar is. Randy Orton isn’t a superstar, he doesn’t have mass appeal. His finishing move does, that’s it. The man seems to be devoid of any personality whatsoever. He reminds me of The Terminator when he’s cutting promos. There’s a whole list of wrestlers, past and present, that WWE have tried to push and they just don’t have that (and I hate using this phrase) “X-factor”. Batista, HHH, Kane, Booker T, Khali etc are all great stars, but they’re not superstars. I’ll be the first to admit that, at times over the last 12 months, I’ve wished that John Cena would get injured. Is that a bit harsh? It probably is, but there’s a method behind the madness. Cena might be portrayed on-screen as the unstoppable, unbreakable man, but he isn’t.
I think I’m right in saying that the injury he’s got just now is the first time he’s had any real break from in ring competition since his return from a neck injury four years ago. That’s just ridiculous. Any sportsman who’s performing at the highest level possible needs a break from competition. It’s just common sense, but WWE doesn’t work like that. It’s run until you can’t run anymore. Maybe that’s why so many wrestlers violate the Wellness Policy for painkillers. They’re literally breaking their bodies in the hope that they’ll get a chance to become “the next John Cena” or “the next big thing”. The harsh reality is that over the years, very few men have had the opportunity.
Having said that, WWE are in a position right now where there’s a crop of 5/6 guys on the main roster, as well as 4/5 from developmental, who could be their next batch of superstars. Who am I talking about?
Well, for a start, there’s the current WWE Champion CM Punk. I can almost hear you now. “How can the longest reigning champion in 5 years not already be a superstar?” The answer’s simple. Because he isn’t booked like a superstar. In 2 weeks time at Hell in a Cell, Punk defends the WWE title in the main-event. Something that, until that actual PPV, has happened TWICE since he won the title. That’s not booking your champion to be a superstar. It’s booking him as second-fiddle to the cash cow. Wrestlers come and go, but the WWE title is the one constant. It should be the focus, regardless of who’s holding it. I’d be saying the same if Punk were in Cena’s position.
Others on the roster, like Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus, Wade Barrett, The Miz and Cody Rhodes all have the POTENTIAL to be superstars. They can be larger than life, have mass appeal, but they have to be given time and care, which will show them that WWE management believes in them. Then there’s the guys down in developmental like Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Kassius Ohno, Bo Dallas and Richie Steamboat. Something I mentioned a few weeks ago was that sometimes, WWE want everyone to look, walk and talk the same. You can’t create superstars like that. You have to give them some kind of creative freedom, so that they can express themselves on a massive stage. If they crash and burn on their own, fair enough, but at least they’ve had the chance to be who they are, instead of who WWE want us to see them as.
Sooner or later, WWE won’t be able to count on John Cena. Over the next few years, he’s going to be on a downward spiral because quite honestly, I don’t think his body can take another four years of constant action. He’s still a young man, 35, but he’s already had almost 10 years of unbelievable pressure on his shoulders. What will WWE do when they can’t put everything on his shoulders? The older superstars like HBK, Steve Austin, Mick Foley and Edge are retired. Rock, HHH and Undertaker are all 40+ and effectively retired from full-time competition. Cena is the only one left standing. The fact that he’s still going after pretty much 7 straight years is a testament to him and his work ethic, but everyone’s got a breaking point. There’s going to come a time when WWE need to start building for life after Cena, because there’s nobody else anywhere near his level right now. Otherwise, when he’s not able to go at this pace anymore, they’re going to be fucked and they’ll only have themselves to blame.
So, usually we get some pretty good back-and-forth going on these articles and I’m hoping this one isn’t gonna be any different. What do you think? Is John Cena the only true superstar in WWE? Who can WWE build up to the same level? Should it be one guy, or should it be spread around 4/5 guys, like it was in the Attitude Era to stop “the guy” getting burned out? Leave your comments below or tweet me @george_sltd.
That about wraps things up for today. I made it through an entire column without shitting on John Cena’s wrestling character, which must be some kinda record for me. Don’t expect it to happen too often though! Haha.. There’s no Wrestling Throwback this week because to be honest, I haven’t been on Twitter to plug it in almost a week. I’ll be back on in the next 48 hours, so if you’ve tweeted me, I’ll reply then. As always, thanks for sticking with me through this and I’ll see ya back here next week for more wrestling related rambles!