The John Cena Issue


Let’s go Cena! Cena Sucks! Those dueling chants are now a cornerstone of Monday Night Raw. Even over the last few weeks as Cena was held off of TV for most of the show, the crowd was still split on him. It’s hard to say how we got to this point, but there is no denying that Cena is now one of the most polarizing stars in WWE history. At a glance, it doesn’t seem to make any sense. He’s the perfect role model for young people and aspiring wrestlers. His work ethic and respect for the business are immense. He has never and will never fail a drug test. He’ll never get in trouble with the law. In the ring, he’s solid and consistently botch free. It’s those attributes that make it easy for him to be the top face and perennial world title champ/contender, yet maybe it’s those same superior qualities that have left him overexposed and feeling stale. Either way, WWE has to address the fractured fan base sooner rather than later. The options are limited but something’s got to give.

Turning Cena heel could be one option but it’s easier said than done. The younger demographic absolutely loves the champ. Because of that, his merchandise sales are probably comparable to Austin’s, not in volume per say but surely in percentage of overall sales. With that said, a heel turn could be a financial disaster. It’d also be so far out of character for a guy who ended last week’s Raw shaking hands with members of the United States Armed Forces. That’s who John Cena is and stripping him of those traits would create a real life need for a new ambassador to all the charities and organizations WWE works with.

An outside of the box idea may be to package him with a stable or just put some semi-established younger guys around him. John deserves everything he’s archived but his place at the top seems to be holding back the younger guys in a sense. They have no where to fit in and no room to grow so long as Cena the guy holding. Only one guy at a time can feud with Cena and those opportunities are only available to heels. Aligning him with young talent thus giving them a rub could be mutually beneficial. I’m not sure who would fit the mold, but they’d be in prime position for a push, or at least more TV time. A new alliance for Cena wouldn’t need to come out of left field. An up and coming guy could run-in for a save as a monster heel was demolishing Cena. The show could go off the air with the two standing back to back. If they pick the right partner, the crowd would have no choice but to cheer. From there they could be a reoccurring tag team that would eventually move into a mutual respect feud. There are a number of interesting ways to bring a deserving mid-carder into the spotlight along side Cena. The basis of any partnership would need to avoid A Ry-Miz territory as well as any Nexus type disconnect between the leader and members. Cena and this hypothetical partner would have to be considered equals.

Then there is the CM Punk factor. Punk has got to be the best in the business right now especially after Monday’s jaw dropping promo. With his impending departure, Cena could and should use his upcoming match against Punk, assuming there will still be one, to get back in the good graces of the crowd. Maybe he could add a stipulation to MitB telling CM, ‘You win, you take the title and leave. I win, you sign a 1 year contract with WWE.’ He could say the WWE is the greatest wrestling company in the world and he wants to have the best competitors around him whether they’re friend or foe. The Chicago crowd would hate seeing Punk lose, but if it meant Punk was staying, Cena could be praised and maybe even cheered. It’d be bitter sweet, but Cena would then be viewed as the man that forced Punk to stay. At this point, that’d be one heck of a title to hold.

Do you think WWE can help Cena win back the crowd or is it hopeless at this point?

What If: Mr. Kennedy Was Never Suspended

What If?!

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. From time to time, will take a look at an event and ask what if it didn’t happen or what if it happened differently. We’ll look at the plan, what happened and then the what if. In this case, the WWE Universe changed forever or more appropriately, not at all: Mr. Kennedy gets suspended.

The Plan
By mid-2007, Kennedy had developed himself as one of the WWE’s top characters on the mic. His in-ring resume was growing as well. He had won a United States title and Wrestlemania 23’s Money in the Bank match. Unfortunately, Kennedy had re-injured his tricep and was forced to drop his MitB contract to Edge before taking a few weeks off. Upon his return, Kennedy was drafted to the Raw brand and immediately began feuding for the IC title with Carlito and Umaga. There was something much larger brewing behind the scenes.

Through late-summer 2007, the ongoing storyline was ‘Who is Vince McMahon’s Illegimate Son?’ Considering Vince’s real-life son-in-law is Triple H, one could only imagine the type of push his newly revealed ‘illegimate son’ would get. The announcement was going to be made on the September 10th 2007 edition of Raw in Green Bay, WI. Considering how over Kennedy was, the fact that he shared a name with Vincent Kennedy McMahon and the fact that it was happening in his hometown, Kennedy seemed like the most likely candidate.

What Happened
Shortly before the ‘Illegimate Son’ reveal, Kennedy violated WWE’s Wellness Policy and was suspended. From there the storyline took a silly turn to reveal Hornswoggle as Vinnie Mac’s son. The angle put Hornswoggle over with the young fans but fizzled out shortly there after. Kennedy returned from suspension to begin a program with Jeff Hardy and later Shawn Michaels.  As a sign that the McMahon’s still believed he had top guy potential, Kennedy starred in Behind Enemy Lines: Columbia. After filming was complete, he had a short feud with William Regal but nothing spectacular. The oft-injured Kennedy was released from his WWE contract in May of 2009.

What If
Live from Green Bay, WI on September 10th 2007, it is revealed Mr. Kennedy is indeed Vince McMahon’s illegimate son. Whether Kennedy forgives Vince for years of neglect or begins a feud with his deadbeat dad, Kennedy would have been involved in the top storyline in the company. Weeks later, Cena was injured and forced to vacate the WWE title. If Kennedy was revealed to be Vince’s son, who do you think would have claimed that belt? The story writes itself.

Kennedy could have been awarded the title if he was on Vince’s side or fought for it in spite of his father. We could have seen an Austin-McMahon style feud for months. Face or heel, Kennedy’s main opponent for the title would most likely would have been the perennial number one contender Triple H. When you’re involved with people like HHH and VKM, you’re one of the WWE’s top guys for a long time.

Instead, Kennedy is now Mr. Anderson in TNA. Hornswoggle still has a job. The WWE title has been passed around between Orton, HHH, Edge, Hardy, Batista, Sheamus, Cena and the Miz. The final two men on that list are the most interesting. Cena is obviously the top guy in the company. Behind the scenes the belief is Vince trusts him. He knows Cena is solid in the ring, comfortable on the mic and he won’t embarrass him with Wellness Policy violations. Had Kennedy proven to be equally trustworthy, you can only imagine what would have been.

And The Miz? Well the WWE obviously felt like it needed a solid wrestler with spectacular mic skills to feud with it’s top talent. Sounds a lot like Kennedy, doesn’t it? So while Kennedy’s suspension closed a door for him, it may have opened the door for the Miz. So I ask you: what if?

2011’s Hall of Fame Class?

Shawn Michaels is the only lock for the 2011 Hall of Fame class.

A month ago, we learned that Shawn Michaels would be the first inductee to the WWE Hall of Fame’s Class of 2011.  Since then, announcements regarding who will be inducted alongside “The Heartbreak Kid” have been, well, non-existent.  So who might join “The Showstopper” in this year’s Hall of Fame class?

Rumors range from Ron Simmons to Abdullah the Butcher, although no one is considered a lock.  Arn Anderson is a favorite, but the WWE would prefer to induct him as part of the Four Horsemen stable rather than as a single entry.  Their ability to do that, naturally, depends on Ric Flair’s status with TNA Wrestling.  Another stable rumored to enter the Hall this year are the Fabulous Freebirds, consisting of Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy, and Buddy Roberts.  Two wrestlers who have been among the most predominantly rumored for induction are Lex Luger and Bill Goldberg.  WWE wants to give this year’s WrestleMania weekend events a WCW flavor since they’ll be in Ted Turner’s stomping ground, and inducting a couple of Nitro legends could succeed in doing just that.  “Bullet” Bob Armstrong, the patriarch of a great wrestling family, has had his name tossed around in discussions, as has the WWE’s original diva, Sunny.  It’s possible that all of these stars will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame this year, and it’s plausible that none of them will.  The true answer likely rests somewhere in the middle.  Who do you think will join Mr. WrestleMania in the Class of ’11?

2.21.11: The Second Figure

If you saw Raw this Monday, you saw the newest 2.21.11 vignette.  In it, The Undertaker was revealed as next Monday’s returning star.  However, towards the end of the promo, we see a figure in a trench coat stepping towards the house that’s been the focal point of these videos for weeks.  With Undertaker already in the house, a lot of speculation has been made to this second figure being an indication that someone else, in addition to The Phenom, will be making an appearance at next week’s Raw.  That wrestler would likely begin a program with The Undertaker to lead into WrestleMania.  If you happened to miss the promo, here it is.  You can judge for yourself if you believe this means we’ll be getting two returns instead of one.

For conversation’s sake, we’ll assume that this means we’ll be seeing two men arrive on Monday night, one of them obviously being the Undertaker. So the question is raised, who is the second man in the video?  The fact is, in terms of the video’s content, all signs point to Sting.  Word is that no agreement between WWE and Sting is in place, and I don’t even know if the two parties have been in contact.  However, the appearance of the Rock this past Monday was kept a secret, so there’s no reason to believe that WWE would be incapable of keeping news of Sting’s arrival from leaking.  In my opinion, WWE is probably still hopeful they’ll be able to secure the Stinger to fill the role and wrestle The Undertaker at WrestleMania.  If they cannot get anything finalized by Monday, I think Triple H will be revealed as the mysterious figure, and he’ll wrestle ‘Taker at ‘Mania.  I feel like this feud between Sheamus and Mark Henry that’s been brewing on Raw is a direct result of WWE not being sure what direction they’re heading in.  If Sting does indeed agree to come onboard and wrestle Undertaker, Triple H will likely face the Celtic Warrior at the Granddaddy of Them All.  However, if nothing with Sting materializes, and Triple H enters a program with The Deadman, they’ll have the Mark Henry program for Sheamus to fall back on so he won’t be left without a ‘Mania opponent.  We’ll find out in less than a week.  What do you think?

2.21.11: Skip Sheffield?

The Cornfed Meathead: The next big thing?

Today we’ll take a look at who is probably the biggest longshot we’ve covered as a possible subject of the 2.21.11 spots, former NXT Season 1 contestant Skip Sheffield.  Sheffield made his debut on the main Raw roster on the June 7 episode, alongside Wade Barrett and the rest of his NXT peers when they attacked John Cena, CM Punk, and anybody else who happened to be ringside.  The group would later go on to become Nexus, but unfortunately for Skip, he was sidelined with an ankle injury just over two months after the stable’s formation.  As a result, Sheffield, like Michael Tarver and Darren Young, missed out on the collective push given to the rest of the Nexus members as the stable gradually picked up more and more steam.

It’s said that of the original eight NXT rookies, Mr. McMahon has especially high hopes for Skip Sheffield.  According to sources close to him, McMahon views The Cornfed Meathead as the company’s potential number two face, second only to John Cena.  If this expectation sounds insane to you, you are not alone.  Given the limited time Sheffield’s spent in front of WWE audiences, the kind of reaction he’s capable of generating is a great unknown.  I don’t know how such a lofty expectation can be placed upon him, but I do know that Vince McMahon is a stubborn promoter, and if he views Sheffield as a main event star, he will probably be pushed as such.  As discussed in our look at Tyler Black as the potential subject of the 2.21.11 videos, these vignettes could definitely be used as a vehicle to propel a young, relatively unknown wrestler into immediate stardom.  Should the creative team chose to elevate Skip Sheffield in this manner, we could see him play a major role in the ongoing Nexus / Corre program.  One possibility is that we see him return as a lone wolf type, pledging allegiance to neither faction, and instead waging war on both, similar to what Goldberg was to nWo Hollywood and the Wolfpac circa 1998.  Of course, this is just speculation, and if Sheffield does indeed return at the February, 21 edition of Raw, the role he will play is completely unknown.

2.21.11: Triple H?

Will The Game return from his hiatus one night removed from the Elimination Chamber?

Like Undertaker, the prospect of the 2.21.11 program concluding with the return of Triple H strikes fear into the hearts of fanboys everywhere.  Nothing against The Game, but the thought of these hype videos resulting in the return of someone who we all already know is coming back is just frustrating.  Will Hunter be back in time for WrestleMania?  Yes.  Will he likely resume his program with King Sheamus and wrestle in one of the marquee matches on the card? Yes.  Does he need a series of vignettes teasing his return to do so?  Absolutely not.

Despite how outrageously unnecessary a series of promo packages building towards a return of the King of Kings is, the fact remains that this could be what’s going on.  Triple H is indisputably one of the company’s top draws, so they may think it a good idea to make sure everyone is watching when he returns by plugging the date three weeks in advance.  The unfortunate thing, if that’s the case, is that there is no surprise here.  The Cerebral Assassin is on his way back whether he’s the one these vignettes are promoting or not, and everybody knows it.  The spots that have been airing have a lot of people excited for a big debut, and if they’re handed a return that they’re already expecting, I think it will cause some unrest.  Anyway, when he does return, it’s a safe bet that he’ll be standing across the ring from the man that put him out of action, Sheamus.  Triple H is said to be a big supporter of the first Irish born WWE Champion’s work, so it wouldn’t be a terrible shock to see him put Sheamus over at the conclusion of the rivalry.  Should this happen at WrestleMania, it will likely be a defining moment in Sheamus’ career, while I doubt it will hurt the perception of Triple H as one of the industry’s toughest competitors much, if at all.

2.21.11: Sting?

Is the Man They Call Sting coming to Raw?

Sting’s debut in World Wrestling Entertainment would be, without doubt, one of the most memorable moments in recent wrestling history.  To see the Venice Beach native standing in a WWE ring would be an exciting and surreal moment, not unlike the in-ring confrontation between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels on Raw last year.  Of all the possible outcomes to the 2.21.11 saga, the appearance of the man they call Sting would easily be the most awe-inspiring.

The likelihood of Sting showing up on WWE programming is a point of contention that varies greatly depending on where you get your information.  According to reliable sources within the company, WWE has yet to contact the Stinger about joining the organization.  Conversely, the people in charge over at TNA Wrestling are said to be of the belief that Sting heading to Connecticut is almost a certainty. Regardless of what you believe, there are some reasons to consider Sting as a possibility.  Despite the use of “Ain’t No Grave” in the in the newest vignette (which seems to hint at the Undertaker), the content of video itself seems to be more reminiscent of Sting than it does any other wrestler.  It closely resembles the ’97 Starrcade promo, which was Sting-centric. And with WrestleMania being in Atlanta this year and WWE wanting to adopt a WCW theme for the event, the in-ring debut of the former WCW poster boy would be a gigantic draw for the card.  If Sting does indeed begin working for Vince McMahon for the first time in his career, a number of dream matches which until this point were unfathomable will surely be held.  Most notably, a match pitting Sting and the Undertaker against each other seems like an inevitability, perhaps even at WrestleMania.  Matches with Kane, HHH, Edge, and CM Punk seem likely, while contests with up-and-comers John Morrison and Daniel Bryan would certainly also be welcome.  Unfortunately, I’m sure I’m not the only one that will forever pine for the now impossible Sting Vs Shawn Michaels match-up.