Former WWE Talent Relations Boss Jim Ross has discussed John Cena’s run as WWE’s top hero and whether the company should have turned him heel.
After a spell as a villain towards the beginning of his WWE career, John Cena cemented his place as a fan favourite when he joined Team Angle in battling the monstrous Team Lesnar at the 2003 Survivor Series. From there, the world was Cena’s oyster as he went on to win his first WWE Championship at WrestleMania 21 in 2005 before going on to have a legendary career like no other in WWE history.
Part of Cena’s unique appeal could be found as early as the summer of 2005 as the cheers for John Cena were supplanted with more than a few boos from the WWE Universe. Nevermore was the crowd against John Cena than when he defended his WWE Title against Rob Van Dam at One Night Stand in 2006. With threats of a riot should ‘Big Match John’ pull out the victory on ECW turf, RVD was able to put him away to the delight of the Hammerstein Ballroom.
Speaking on his Grilling JR podcast, Jim Ross discussed the WWE missing an opportunity in never turning the perennial hero into a hated heel. JR explained Vince McMahon’s reasoning for keeping Cena as a fan favourite and says Cena’s incredible charity work probably played a part in that decision:
“Probably, but Vince had the same strong babyface feelings for John Cena that he did for Hulk Hogan. The superhero, the epitome of a babyface and what he was supposed to be and how he was supposed to represent. Cena did that well beyond just the lens of the camera. He’s granted more Make-a-Wish requests than anybody ever in history. A lot of stars and ballplayers do those, and so you try to make their life as comfortable as happy and provide these wishes. If they wanted to meet John Cena, more often than not, they got to meet John Cena if it worked out that way.”
The WWE Hall of Famer went on to say that, despite never being a full-blown heel, some feuds, such as his WrestleMania rivalry with The Rock, did give Cena a chance to show more “negative reactions” than usual:
“[Vince] loved Cena’s gameplan and how he represented the company and all that. But certainly, if you have a personal issue, and let’s say it was Cena and Rock and it was personal between the two of them, then all of a sudden it’s a little different presentation than Cena turning full-blown heel and being an adversary of every babyface that he encounters. He can only have negative reactions and physicality and so forth with this person he has this issue with. It’s a different turn. It’s a different presentation than a normal babyface turning to a heel.”
“He got overexposed. He was kind of force-fed. That’s not John’s fault. He was running the plays that were called. With a top babyface and a personal issue that’s plausible and believable that’s created for the two to interact, he would’ve had a nice heel run. No doubt about that. But I think part of the issue, he didn’t heel, run, cower, lie, cheat, steal – he was just overexposed I thought. That was the thing.”
H/T to 411mania.com