Monday 7 May 2012

The Many Opponents of John Cena

Are WWE trying to convince us of John Cena's versatility as a headline wrestler? I ask because I cannot remember the last time his pay-per-view schedule was as varied as it has been lately.
The Royal Rumble (WWE’s January PPV offering) saw Cena battle Kane in what was a fairly standard Cena outing. That was followed at February’s Elimination Chamber with an arena-touring Ambulance match brawl. At WrestleMania he had a mildly underwhelming but still very well received sports entertainment extravaganza with The Rock and Extreme Rules saw him tackle Brock Lesnar in a gripping pseudo-worked-shoot affair that was a far cry from anything WWE has done for a very long time and was an even further cry from Cena’s comfort zone.

Nobody else on the roster has had anywhere near as much variety throughout 2012 as Cena.
Last Monday night's RAW brought us the news that Cena will be facing John Laurinaitis at Over The Limit on May 20th. While the Executive Vice President of Talent Relations and permanent General Manager of RAW and SmackDown may be a former wrestler he is to all intents and purposes a non-worker. That means this match will likely have some sort of relaxed rules gimmick applied to it before the event rolls around. It’s highly likely Lord Tensai and his manservant will play a role in the match too, considering they joined the GM in a beatdown of the company’s top star on the April 30th RAW. This means there are already plenty of shortcut options visible for this match.

This is what WWE thinks its audience wants to see...

Why WWE has made the Laurinaitis v Cena match remains unclear. It’s possible it will turn out to be a stepping stone to a Cena v Tensai feud. That’s been rumoured since before Matt ‘Tensai’ Bloom returned to the organisation. Their meeting on the April 16th RAW was enjoyable by Cena standards, which makes me hopeful that that’s WWE’s long term plan.

If this isn’t their plan then it’s a very peculiar direction to go in. It’s well established that Cena is a limited worker so putting him in the ring with a man even more limited is not a smart way to get a good match. By extension that means the overall quality of the pay-per-view will be lowered. At a time when WWE is finding the numbers for its secondary shows falling quality is something they should have an eye on.

Hopefully Over The Limit will give us another chance to observe Laurinaitis's superb selling

Does anyone anywhere actually want to see a Laurinaitis v Cena match? I know I don’t. I’d much rather see Cena make an attempt at elevating some new talent. You also have to ask what ‘Big Johnny’s’ storyline logic for making this match will be (presumably that will be revealed on the May 7th RAW). Why would he want to book himself in a match with someone who is tougher and (supposedly) better at wrestling? Why would he want to get rid of the promotion’s most successful draw? It just doesn’t make any sense.

But that’s WWE storylines for you, they rarely worry about logic.

Can WWE convince us that Cena is a varied worker with their recent booking of him? In fairness I can’t be sure that that’s their goal but it certainly seems like it is. Personally it’s going to take more than a bearable match with ‘Mr Excitement’ to convince me Cena has suddenly turned into an amazing worker but it could be a nice diversion on a B Level pay-per-view, if it’s given a logical reason for happening. The show is still a few weeks away so there's enough time for that to occur.

I will say this though: if Laurinaitis hits an Ace Crusher on John Cena the bout will be closer to success than failure.

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