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Just when you think that you’re “down and out” as a Pro Wrestling fan, the WWE always finds a way to hook you in… I honestly didn’t care much for Money in the Bank 2021. I’m tired of ladder matches, tired of the endless Charlotte Flair pushes, I like Big E but don’t believe he’s ready for prime time, bored with the Bobby & Drew show on RAW, and it just seems like the WWE is struggling to find Roman Reigns good opponents right now. When you believe that MITB was just another Pay Per View, the WWE unleashes the return of John Cena
And now, I’m fully invested again.
I don’t really have time to write this column this morning, but I’m finding the time.
THAT is the difference when you have an engaging top star in your company. As much as I like Roman Reigns now as a heel, he’s nothing in comparison to the greatness of John Cena as a babyface. In my opinion for the Modern Era of Pro Wrestling (1980s & beyod), Cena is the 4th member of my “Mount Rushmore of Wrestling” behind only Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, and Ric Flair. Where is the Rock or Undertaker, you ask? Rock was Austin’s heel and the business began to decline when he was a babyface in 2000. Undertaker was always a side attraction and never the top drawing guy.
If you look at the numbers, the GREATNESS of John Cena is right in front of you. The FACT is that WWE quit on John Cena as their #1 guy during SummerSlam 2014 when they knew he had movie projects coming up and they inserted him into that match with Brock Lesnar with Daniel Bryan injured. The plan of the original Bryan vs. Brock match was to squash Bryan and the WWE kept that booking by having John Cena squashed as well. WWE’s plan was to not only build up Brock Lesnar as strong as they could for Roman Reigns to defeat him cleanly at Wrestlemania 31, but to dispatch of any top star in Roman’s path as well. With Cena having a few media projects through late 2014 and throughout 2015, his time was over with the WWE as the top guy.
Since SummerSlam 2014, let’s look at the numbers:
– RAW had over 4 million average viewers during August 2014. Right now, they are barely staying above 1.5 million.
– DVR Recordings ranged from 400,000 to 500,000 during August 2014. Now, they are under 300,000.
– Houseshows were a steady business through August 2014, particularly with John Cena on top. Guaranteed 5,000+ with lots of merchandise sold. Through late 2019, WWE was beginning to cancel houseshows regularly due to unsold tickets.
– WWE had no problems selling out 10,000 seat arenas for television shows. Through late 2019 and early 2020, the upper decks were always blocked off and the Camera Side was often empty.
– John Cena was the #1 merchandise seller of the WWE until mid 2018 when Roman Reigns finally took that spot over. However, if you look at the data, merchandise sales took a nosedive through 2018 with Cena operating as a part-timer. In other words, Cena declined to him for merchandise sales.
Those are LEGIT facts that cannot be denied. They have not been as successful as a business ever since in terms of # of wrestling fans. Sure, the declining Cable Channels are willing to give them lots of cash in desperation for their live sports content, but could you imagine how much MORE they would give the WWE if RAW was still drawing over 4 million as they did with John Cena on top?
And I can go into the numbers further… Monday Night RAW DECLINED in viewership from 2000-2004. The show began its decline following Wrestlemania 16, lost another chunk with the TNN move, really lost fans during 2001 with the WCW/ECW Invasion failure, and kept declining with the overpushing of Triple H from 2002-2004. Then, a rising STAR from Smackdown was switched over to the RAW brand during 2005. His name was John Cena and he was WWE Champion at the time. RAW’s viewership numbers went up during 2005 and 2006, took a nosedive during 2007 thanks to Chris Benoit and remained hungover throughout 2008 (plus, Cena was hurt). But during 2009 with Cena back RAW’s numbers went back up.
The first half of the 2010s saw the WWE trying experimental WWE Title reigns with wrestlers who probably shouldn’t have been champion at the time. Sheamus, Miz, Alberto Del Rio, while always having belt runs for Randy Orton in their back pocket. As seen by 2011, 2013, and 2014, give the WWE Title back to Cena, the numbers go right up. The sad part is how how generous John Cena was was as a top guy. He put guys over such as CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and later AJ Styles in huge spots that gave each guy one of their best matches ever and clean wins as well. WWE pushed other wrestlers to the top instead and 7-10 years later, none of them have replaced John Cena.
WWE tried HARD to make Roman Reigns become the “next John Cena”, when in reality, he was like the “NXT John Cena”. A bad imitation as an overpushed Babyface wrestler. For one, Roman wasn’t experienced as a singled worker to handle the in-ring workload to look convincing as a top guy. Thus, his big matches with CM Punk, Randy Orton, Triple H, Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, and even John Cena looked liked struggles for him. Little did we know that he had Leukemia coming back during 2018, but his conditioning had him sucking wind to keep up with those top guys and the end result was a collection of bad guys. HE FELT FORCED and the fans knew it. LOOK at all of those big names that he pinned 100% clean… But it never worked.
It took some time off, a heel turn, changing his look and getting in better physical shape to FIX Roman Reigns. Now, to his credit, he has WWE Smackdown‘s viewership numbers stable at 2 million and big matches, when he is involved, will cause that to grow. If only Roman Reigns had a strong babyface opponent to really boom that Smackdown business.
Enter John Cena.
They are going to do HUGE business together and I’m hoping that we not only get a great “Match of the Year” contender at SummerSlam 2021, but follow-up matches as well. Why not? Give that good ol’ Extreme Rules 2021 that big rub. Maybe John Cena gets the win at SummerSlam 2021 and Roman violently attacks him afterward. Thus, it would set-up a more violent No Disqualification match at Extreme Rules to “settle the score”. Roman Reigns wins it back there but then the 3rd match is held Survivor Series 2021 OR you could have John Cena pick a team of 3-4 wrestlers to take on Roman’s Bloodline team? Then the final singles battle between these titans could be at Royal Rumble 2022. Roman officially dispatches John Cena there and he’s ready for whomever is next for him at Wrestlemania 38. Could you imagine if the Rock was available and followed up this business?
Scrooge McDuck money bin levels of cash here, folks. In the immortal words of CM Punk, “get me a snorkel!”.
THIS is what WWE has been lacking… Their Creative Team is awful, I know… But it was AWFUL during the 2000s as managed by Stephanie McMahon. Did you see that botched WCW/NWO Invasion angle? Did you see Triple H dominating the RAW roster and killing everyone’s momentum? Katie Vick? Hot Lesbian Action? Botching Eddie Guerrero’s WWE Title run. Divas Search contests? I mean, come on… What allowed guys like Batista, John Cena, Randy Orton, and future others to succeed because the Talent Developmental was great under Ohio Valley Wrestling and Florida Championship Wrestling had good trainers too. What has disallowed the poor flowing of new potential stars is the reign of Triple H recruiting MALE wrestlers into the Performance Center to train towards a specific role instead of learning the business for his NXT promotion. Under Triple H and Matt Bloom, nobody knows how to work a variety of matches nor do the know how to cut promos.
WWE cannot manufacture stars on the MALE side anymore because the Talent Relations, Scouting, and Development is not right. Honestly, not since the Shield crop did we have anything potentially decent to push as top guys. Those were the last John Laurinaitis signings and developed wrestlers in the last days of FCW before it morphed into Triple H’s NXT and Performance Center by mid 2012. We’ve had a parade of NXT guys tried on the main WWE roster such as Finn Balor, Keith Lee, Andrade, Bobby Roode, Aleister Black, Baron Corbin, Apollo Crews, and others… They are just midcarders and aren’t proving to be worthy of pushing as top guys. Furthermore, much of Triple H’s signings are the majority of the wrestlers receiving the axe lately for the 4/15, 6/2, and other bloody days of cuts.
WWE also made a DRASTIC mistake during 2014 on “who to replace John Cena as top guy”. They had the wrestlers to easily fill that void and they blew it.
In my opinion and I said this immediately on June 2nd, 2014 and received NUCLEAR HEAT from the Internet Wrestling Community… Breaking up the Shield was a MISTAKE.
Remember, they were on the momentum of defeating Evolution at back-to-back Pay Per Views. There was NO REASON to break them up, particularly as the trio actually went their 3 separate ways after Rollins turned on them. One would figure that Ambrose and Reigns would go chasing Seth Rollins for his dirty deed. Nope, they interacted briefly and then Roman Reigns was off to wrestling BACK-to-BACK Pay Per Views for the World Title and Dean was off to losing repeatedly on Pay Per View. Seth would suffer being Triple H‘s Authority stooge for the next 2 years until the knee injury. Remember that GREAT feud that he had with “Corporate” Kane during 2015? What a rush.
HOWEVER – If you would have kept the Shield together as a babyface stable and just had them working together to take down the Authority, challenge Brock Lesnar together, and fight off any heel wrestlers that the WWE had at the time. WWE could have sold tons of Shield merchandise and would also be able to use Dean/Seth to help prop Roman Reigns up against the fans. Roman, on his own as seen by early 2015 Royal Rumble win, was struggling to be accepted by the fans. However, within the Shield, they could have hid much of his inexperience and be pushed together as a team. Then, when you pull the trigger on the Roman Reigns push, then you could have had Dean and Seth celebrate with Roman as a champion. And THAT is when you possibly turn Seth Rollins, once Roman has the title.
WWE had no real set plan for replacing John Cena. They liked the LOOK of Roman Reigns and figured that they could get it right “on the fly”. Well, the didn’t as a babyface. WWE lost over 2 million viewers, thousands in attendance, lost merchandise sales, and probably should have received HIGHER offers from Cable Channels for their programming. Yes, Roman Reigns is fantastic as the #1 guy, but he was placed in an unfortunate situation during 2014 to follow John Cena’s footsteps. And he couldn’t do it because NOBODY could do it. John Cena is an ALL TIME GREAT.
Now, John Cena is back and he’ll PROVE why he’s one of the greatest wrestlers of all time and why he’s a wrestler that much of the Internet Wrestling Community has taken for granted.
HEEL Roman Reigns versus BABYFACE John Cena at SummerSlam 2021 is gonna RED HOT, folks.
Buckle in… This will feel great, sort of like how wrestling USED to feel like when it had bigger stars.
I’m back, baby!
So just chill… Until the next episode!
Comments and feedback are welcome. Follow and Tweet me @titowrestling or login in below to post comments.
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