Turning John Cena heel has seemed like something unforeseen in WWE, until now.
Fans have called for John Cena to completely tweak his character and go rogue for the first time since his days on SmackDown in the original brand split. He rapped and talked smack in the mid-2000’s before becoming the Face That Runs the Place, a persona that has seen him win 15 World championships and become WWE’s most polarizing figure of the past decade.
The call from fans has been for Cena to turn heel and move on to something fresh to do after having the same character for so many years. While he has teased signs of aggression before, it would be nothing more than just having an angry moment or two by taking out a heel that called him out.
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However, since returning from a fall hiatus, Cena has used a bit of an edgier tone to his work on SmackDown. It started with his verbal attack on the “new era BS” and continued with being full of himself by saying, “this is the ‘My Time is Now’ era.”
Are we actually seeing the early sign of a heel turn? It’s nearly impossible to tell since this aggression like this has been seen plenty of times from the Leader of the Cenation. If there is ever a time to finally pull this off, though, it would be on the post-WrestleMania 33 edition of SmackDown.
The shows after the Showcase of the Immortals provide some of the biggest moments of WWE’s year. New feuds start, heel and face turns get underway, and debuts of NXT stars occur. It has been a few years since we have received that one groundbreaking moment from a post-WrestleMania event, something that would send shock waves through WWE programming. The latest one to fit the bill was Dolph Ziggler when he cashed in Money in the Bank to win the World Heavyweight Championship in 2013.
If John Cena were to follow up on Ziggler’s act from four years ago, it would certainly outshine that and everything else that came before it. The only thing is there needs to be a logical flow from the weeks before the Royal Rumble until Tuesday, April 4.
ave the edgy personality of the 39-year-old as a starting point, but that aggression could develop with a WrestleMania feud against the one fans have clamored to see—the Undertaker.
Two polarizing figures in one ring, both of whom have fanbases that stretch across the WWE Universe. Someone usually takes a bit of a heelish role in a program like this, though, similar to Undertaker and his use of the low-blow to take down Lesnar. This received negative reaction as the Phenom looked for any way to conquer the then-unbeatable Beast Incarnate. In this case, if WWE wants to do a slow burn for Cena’s eventual heel turn, you have him get cocky with the WWE Championship (which he would defeat AJ Styles for at the Royal Rumble). He would hang it above the head of Undertaker’s and tease him with “you can’t see me, and you can’t see this.”
The boos would begin from the WWE crowd, who would feel that the star of “The Wall” is taunting one of the company’s greatest Superstars. Even worse, he could drape the word “retirement” over Undertaker to see how desperate is for the title. That would have to come without a Royal Rumble win for him.
So, if Cena wants to lure the Dead Man into a championship vs. career match, he would have to say that he’s well aware of who he’s going up aginst, and wouldn’t just do this without Undertaker putting something on the line himself. That is when Cena comes in with the line of “if you put your career on the line, I will put this title up for grabs.” It is not the typical thing to hear from the Champ That Runs the Camp, which would just be yet another layer towards building to the inevitable.
Over the next few weeks, Cena would continue to cut promos on how he will have to retire the Undertaker at WrestleMania 33, receiving boos from crowds in the process. He would question them like nothing he said was wrong.
Then at the Show of Shows, Cena would do what will eventually happen to Undertaker—make him retire. He would put the Dead Man away in the main event of WrestleMania 33 with every bit of offense he has in the tank, including as many Attitude Adjustments as possible in his arsenal. They would shake hands and not ruin the moment by Cena acting full of himself or anything in that regard.
However, this would set up a promo from John Cena to open the post-WrestleMania edition of SmackDown. He steps into the ring and talks about the Camping World Stadium show and puts over everything that happened. Of course, the attention would then turn to the Undertaker’s retirement, which would see Cena get viciously booed by the crowd. He would attempt to address it, but get cut off by the WWE Universe every time.
Then he would snap:
“You know what,” Cena would say. “I’ve had enough of this.” He would drop the microphone and storm out of the ring, walking up the ramp with a stern look.
To close SmackDown, there would be a No. 1 contender’s match for the WWE Championship between AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, the Miz, and Bray Wyatt. For a quick breakdown, Styles is going into his third singles match with Cena at Royal Rumble, and if the title switches hands, they would be bound for a fourth, so that takes him out. Wyatt and Cena have crossed paths before and had a lengthy feud. It was three years ago, but it’s not the most appealing thing to go back down. The Miz and Cena also feuded during WrestleMania 27 season and we likely are not going to see the A-lister turn face anytime soon.
That leaves Ambrose in play. As we know from their No Mercy feud, he and Cena despise each other. Neither liked the other’s personality and how they carried their business, which led to them coming to blows and trading some vicious verbal jabs on SmackDown and Talking Smack.
Remember how Ambrose tried telling Cena that this is his show now?
Cena then came back with his own parting shots at the Lunatic Fringe, who he was angry with about accusing him of not being around:
This ties back to the promo that Cena cut in his return to WWE on December 27, where he questioned why anyone thought he would be leaving for Hollywood. This and other signs of a heel turn were seen, which Alfred Konuwa of Forbes broke down. Like Cena said above too, it’s Ambrose’s own “twisted reality.”
With that being said, Ambrose would end up becoming the new No. 1 contender to Cena’s WWE Championship and be set for a match on a future SmackDown PPV. This would lead to Cena making his way to the ring for the first time since storming out of the opening segment of the show. He would go into the squared circle and shake Ambrose’s hand, congratulating him on the win. They would have a few words for each that that do not get picked up by a microphone, which leads to the current Intercontinental Champion’s music playing to seemingly end the show.
As Ambrose would go to one of the corners to go pose on the turnbuckle, Cena would attack from behind and beat the daylights out of him, throwing sharp and heavy right hands to the back of his head. This would go on as a stunned Amway Center arena watches Cena lock a vicious STF on Ambrose, not willing to let go, and AA’ing him through one of the international announce table at ringside. All of this would come with the same stern look he displayed to begin the show as fans boo him out of the arena.
The resulting heel turn there seems simple in retrospect, but it would take a lot to get there. Months of storytelling, multiple matches, and the resulting turn on someone who we know is not a friend of John Cena’s. There is nothing close to a guarantee that we will even see a heel turn out of the long-time WWE star, but if the time could be at any point, it should be soon.