Sunday 24 November 2013

Fantasy Booker: John Cena v Alberto Del Rio

Hell in a Cell saw John Cena come back months earlier than originally expected from an elbow injury. On the show he faced World Heavyweight champion and proud Mexican Alberto Del Rio, and beat him. Cena became the World champ essentially out of nowhere.

I predicted ADR would leave with the title. With hindsight this was obviously never going to happen, although in my defence I noted that ‘The Essence of Excellence’ would win via cheating or on some daft technicality. I was being optimistic. I do that sometimes.

Like I say, a win for Cena was obvious. This is the man who, since 2005, has consistently been booked as a winner, someone fans can rely on to pull out the win when the chips are down. It’s okay for him to lose to the likes of The Rock in these “guaranteed victory” situations, but guys on ADR’s level are not privy to winning matches against the megastar.

Just out of shot is a really funny sign
It’s this reliability that has kept Cena on top for so long. A portion of the audience continues to support him because he has proven he won’t let them down. A guy in Cena’s position can only lose so many times before they lose their shine and start to look like everyone else.

Had things happened differently WWE could have created some compelling television.

Imagine if Cena had come back to face Del Rio, with the match receiving the same video package and build-up, along with the same promos and initial reaction from the champion, and had lost. Other than Del Rio going down to a single AA the match was fine as it was. They could have done exactly the same stuff but tweaked to have Cena selling his injured arm far more. An altered finishing sequence of Del Rio applying the cross armbreaker again and again, with Cena continually escaping but becoming increasingly fatigued before finally having nothing left and the referee stopping the match, could have been very effective.

This would have put over Del Rio’s finisher as one of the most fearsome WWE has ever known and allowed him to brag on the following evening’s RAW. It would have been a great source of material for the arrogant ADR.

Meanwhile Cena would have been granted another few weeks off to heal and created interest in a rematch with Del Rio. Plus, as an added bonus, Cena’s detractors would have seen him putting someone over cleanly. He could have returned after a couple of weeks off selling the injury to admit that Del Rio to set up a rematch. The attacks and verbal showdowns we’ve seen would have had far more impact to them had Del Rio still been carrying the gold and had a recent victory over ‘The CeNation Leader’ to boast of.

The Survivor Series rematch would be getting looked at differently if the above had happened. I’m sure Cena would still be the heavy favourite but the outcome wouldn’t seem quite so clear. They’d be able to tell an interesting story about Cena desperately trying to protect his still tender arm and avoiding the cross armbreaker at all costs with Del Rio determined to go two in a row over the company’s top star. In this situation the first successful application of the armbreaker would get a huge reaction.

Another positive approach to taking this approach would have been making Survivor Series feel like a bigger deal. Any time a WWE pay-per-view, particularly one traditionally viewed as a big deal, can be given such a boost it should be.

This was obviously never going to happen, of course. Cena is simply not booked to make stars and Del Rio is not someone company bosses consider in need of an increased push. That this fairly simplistic set of circumstances seem so incongruent with the current WWE approach is a large part of the reason why the promotion’s in the shape it’s in.

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