John Cena is to WWE what Tiger Woods is to the PGA. Both are the heirs apparent to the kings of their respective sporting fields.
There are other similarities. Both are in their 30s. Both are considered the faces of their respective sports. Both have been lauded extensively for their endless charity work.
Also, both have failed marriages. Unlike Cena, though, Woods’ post-divorce personal life and reported peccadillos were and are continuous tabloid fodder.
That, though, is where the similarities end. Unlike in professional golf (and other pro sports), the outcomes of pro wrestling contests are scripted. Everyone knows who will win going into the contest, but that is overlooked as long as the contest is highly entertaining.
So while it was expected early in Woods’ career that he would overtake the Golden Bear’s major record, his play – and his health — lately indicate that Nicklaus’ record may be safe.
The Nature Boy’s record, on the other hand, definitely is in peril.
Cena has a few more years left in his ring career, and that means he definitely will have a few more opportunities to get that 17th championship.
Are there other WWE Superstars who are more deserving than Cena of wearing the titles? Absolutely. Were any of them in the title belt ladder match Sunday night? Definitely.
The crowd wanted Roman Reigns to win. His good looks and rebel attitude have landed him legions of adoring fans – especially among the highly desired demographic of women.
Some wrestling pundits like me were hoping that Bray Wyatt would win. Putting the title around him would have created the most interesting and watch-worthy storyline in WWE heading into the second half of 2014.
But apparently Vince McMahon wanted Cena to win. And that was the only decision that mattered.
That tells me that WWE definitely is on a mission to have Cena surpass Flair as the greatest champion in WWE history. Face it, John Cena fits the mold of what a family friendly WWE wants as its poster-boy champion.
He spews the virtues of hard work, hustle, loyalty, honor and respect. He is a tireless supporter of kids, the military and charity. He wears dog tags and sports a crew cut, symbolizing the all-American soldier who lives and dies for his country’s honor. He welcomes the cheers but also eats up the jeers from the crowd – mostly from those who still yearn for the old Attitude Era days.
Outside of the Undertaker and CM Punk — and possibly Chris Jericho — there is no one better at putting young talent over with the crowd than John Cena. If you somehow made your way onto Cena’s dance card, you shot to the top shelf in WWE. Wyatt, Reigns, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins owe a large portion of their white-hot success to the fact that they got themselves aligned with the WWE Superman.
With all that, you would think his entrance theme should be “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” instead of “My Time is Now.”
On the other hand, Flair’s image is that of a playboy lush who would rather be fly than fly around the ring. He now only shoved his lavish lifestyle in your face, he also shoved it down your throat.
There is no doubting his in-ring ability. The man is a two-time honoree in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Obviously he had all the right stuff because he would not have captured all those world titles. But we all know in today’s society that the image of an athlete goes beyond the field of play – and Flair did not always work and play well with others.
Flair’s personal life has been his undoing. Four failed marriages, bankruptcy, reports of drug and alcohol abuse, the drug-related death of his son, his instability as a so-called “company man” – that is, unfair as it sounds, part of the whole Ric Flair formula.
Also take into consideration the fact that not all of Flair’s world titles came with WWE.
So it only stands to reason that as long as McMahon has breath in his body, the “Company Man” will eventually overtake the self-proclaimed “Man” to become the greatest champion in WWE history. As the Nature Boy used to crow, “To be the Man, you gotta beat the Man.” Cena seems poised to do just that.
Love him or hate him, John Cena is Money in the Bank for WWE all year long, not just on one June night each year.
Bill Atkinson is a frequent contributor to Camel Clutch Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.
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