The powers that be in WWE claim that they do not care about the hatred constantly being leveled at John Cena. Anytime the situation is questioned, we hear the same thing; John gets a huge reaction every time he’s out there and that’s all that matters. But I for one do not believe a word of it. Why?
But his name is not John Cena, its Daniel Bryan. And I think that drives WWE insane.
Bryan is running Cena’s gimmick. Period. The current angle involving the McMahon family endorsed WWE champion Randy Orton and the Shield is right down John’s alley. This is what we expect from WWE to get John over.
We should all be used to it by now; they have done it for years.
Putting him squarely in the crosshairs of the boss, placing him at a disadvantage every time he’s on TV, mounting the odds against him; this is the John Cena formula. This how WWE has done business with Cena for years, from the very moment that he first turned face and suddenly the crowd began to turn on him.
They have done everything in their power to make him a strong, unbelievably resilient protagonist, a cowboy that puts John Wayne to shame. Promos, vignettes, backstage spots, a rap album, TV appearances, commercials, it has all been done to convince fans that they should love John Cena.
And if you don’t believe that then you are fooling yourself.
WWE wants him to be loved. They want him to be respected. There is no other reason for the company to constantly remind us that he never backs down, that he will always keep fighting. There is also no other reason for John to consistently remind the crowd that he’s okay with the fact that a great number of them hate his guts.
And there is absolutely no other logical reason to explain why John brought up his work with the Make-a-Wish Foundation several weeks ago on Raw. The fact is that even to this very moment, WWE will not give up trying to convince fans they should love John Cena.
But from the moment that Daniel Bryan was inserted into the Triple H/Randy Orton storyline, he got over. He’s over right now. He’s more over that he has been in his entire career. He is absolutely red hot and is only getting hotter.
Is the angle custom made for a babyface to get over? Absolutely. Would John Cena be over the way Bryan is if it had been him in the angle? Not a chance. In fact, there’s probably a very good chance that Orton’s heel turn never would have worked.
That’s how much fans hate John; he can’t even heel a guy out.
But look at Daniel. Listen to the reaction. Fans are losing their minds over him; they can’t get enough of him. They’re chanting “yes” at non-wrestling events at this point.
This is what WWE wants for John Cena. It’s what they have wanted from day one. And they will never get it.
Now, having said all of that I will say this. It’s not time to declare John Cena’s WWE career over. He makes far too much money for them the way things are; the fact is that many fans likely buy tickets just to go hate him in person. And it’s also not time to crown Daniel Bryan as the company’s next top guy. He has not consistently proven through ratings that he is capable of doing that at the moment.
But Daniel Bryan is still a work in progress. It’s not over yet. And the more that WWE works with him, the more he’s getting over. If the company truly decides to commit to him, I believe that he can reach that top spot. Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow. But he’s only getting bigger, he’s only gaining ground.
Daniel Bryan is running John Cena’s gimmick. Only, he’s doing a much better job of it.
Tom Clark is a WWE Featured Columnist & Consultant for Bleacher Report and a Contributor for JBL’s Layfield Report
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