WWE Child Psychology: the Youngest Cenationers Will Stay After a Cena Heel Turn

Marc MattalianoCorrespondent IIIDecember 28, 2011

ORLANDO, FL - MAY 18:  Pro Wrestler John Cena cheeers for the Boston Celtics against of the Orlando Magic in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Amway Arena on May 18, 2010 in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

I've heard over and over and over that a John Cena heel turn just doesn't make sense for a simple reason: because the majority of Cena's fans are kids, and if he turns bad, they won't watch, they won't buy his merch, they won't attend shows and they'll feel turned away.

That, my friends, is entirely illogical.

You have to understand, children are immature. They get attached to something, and even if it changes for the worse, they'll still keep it.

Perfect example: They love their favorite stuffed animal. Even after it's worn, torn, broken, arms ripped off, stuffing pulled out, dirty, smelly, filthy, they'll still hold it and clutch it like it was brand new. Even though their parents/guardians/big siblings/etc. say they should just chuck it and get a new one, they don't know what they would do with that void, so they stay attached.

Let me ask you this. Ever hear of a relationship between two young people breaking up and one side of it just can't let go, so they stalk their ex and drive by their job and send them cards and flowers?  That's because they're immature as well. 

If Cena turns "dirty," do you honestly think they're just going to stop wanting to see him? Kids will continue to want to watch Cena, even if it means they yell at him, jeer, spit, cheer for the other guy to beat him, AND (believe it or not) buy his opponent's merch just because they THINK it would piss Heel Cena off. Yeah. I've seen it happen with other top heels; it would happen with Cena too.

Kids buy Cena merch and have their parents buy tickets to house shows, yes. WWE made a choice some time ago to go with a strictly PG product and to put John Cena at the physical and metaphorical forefront of that new approach.

Thing is, they did it out of desperation. Hardcore wrestling fans were turning away in droves because of how the business was quickly changing into something far different, the Attitude Era was fading fast, the stars they knew and loved were disappearing and they weren't replaced with suitable substitutes.

WWE went with marketing to kids because they felt it was far more reliable.

Kids are loyal to what they want, and they'll milk their parents for every penny. Not only that, but if they put out a top star like Cena, who's completely harmless and a "good role model," of course parents will have no problem shelling out hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year so their kid can show their support for Cena (and, by default, WWE).

Look at the success of Twilight. Stephanie Meyer is a pariah among top literary names like Stephen King and Anne Rice, why? Because she's likely made millions off of movie rights after she wrote books that not only weren't written well, but completely neutered viciously visceral and romantic creatures like vampires and werewolves. She took creatures that make both the shedding and drinking of blood into a romantic, loving ritual and made the creatures who do that "vegetarians."

That takes serious balls. But you know what? Young kids eat it up with a ladle, and parents are fine letting their young'uns read it because it's not perpetuating values they hypocritically "don't feel are proper" for their kids to be appreciating.

Cena's the exact same. A guy who beats people up for a living, but is still harmless enough that parents have no problem letting their kids love him.

Thus, with WWE's stocks failing and ratings tanking, WWE took drastic measures to save themselves. They marketed to kids to ensure their future. For one thing, they'd be making new, young fans. That's undeniably important; no BS. For another thing, kids are easier to please, and more likely to miss the gigantic psychological holes in Cena's presentation.

He can defend the little guy one minute and stand up against a bully, yet he can bully Vickie Guerrero and call her fat. He can act all humble one minute, say over and over how he's always been there for WWE fans and say he loves the business, yet every chance he gets, he bitterly digs Rock about leaving, showing how truly arrogant he is about how much he's supposedly done for WWE.

How many times can you recall that Cena's been written off TV with a kayfabe injury, then when he comes back, he's got a new line of merch and a movie coming out? Not a coincidence.

Kids miss all that, because they're loyal and they don't pay attention.

That's why a Cena heel turn is so important. I guarantee you, kids will not stop watching simply because their hero turns his back on them. They simply won't, and any talk of that is just ludicrous.

Longtime fans out there, let me ask you. How many of your heroes have gone evil? Shawn Michaels?  Hulk Hogan? Ric Flair? Bret Hart? Triple H? Stone Cold? Rock? Undertaker? Fill in your own; we've all got at least three. They've all been heels, and they all deserve their own places among the best of the best because they've entertained better than anyone.

Cena should not be immune simply because "the kids would be disappointed" or "the troops love him" or "special interest groups attach onto him for endorsements." WWE has this huge attitude that they're some big part of societal lexicon and that professional wrestling is still half as popular as it was during the Monday Night Wars.

Truth is, it's not, and why is that? Because WWE has allowed special interests, parents, troops, Make-A-Wish and every other group under the sun the right to control their biggest star so that the most fans feel their favorite brand of entertainment is watered down, passionless and 110-proof marketing from bell to bell.

You know as well as I do that, at this point, there are a million ways and a million reasons John Cena can turn bad. Six to eight months ago? Probably not. But now? After Piper, Foley and Kane? After Punk has successfully stopped Cena twice from officially claiming the WWE Title for himself ? After Rock made Cena look like a downright fool at Survivor Series? After Awesome Truth stopped Cena from beating Del Rio?

All Cena has left are those few faint voices that try to urge their man on. The simplest fact is...

Those few faint voices have been appeased far too many times. The masses are becoming louder and louder in support of other faces, other names, other developments.

Cena is a man. A human. He's flawed, just like all of us. He's been in power for so long and is quickly seeing his power fade, as time ticks down to the biggest confrontation of his career. A confrontation that will quite literally make or break him.

You mean to tell me that none of you out there would seek aid from those in power to ensure victory? 

You mean to tell me that none of you who would fear a loss on WWE's grandest stage and turn to the managerial powers that gave you all those title shots and opportunities to help you?

You mean to tell me that none of you would collapse under the fear of such unbelievable loss and disapproval of your fans that you wouldn't stoop to extreme depths to pull out even a dirty win in such a situation?

Don't lie. Admit the truth. Cena has finally met his match this time. That's the whole purpose of this match with the Rock anyway. You know it, Cena pins Rock in Miami, the two shake hands and Rock walks off defeated? That will literally be the biggest letdown in wrestling history. There's no "well, the new generation beat the older generation, it's just an age and stamina thing." No.

Rock wins, it proves that Cena's head may have been bigger than his abilities, at least on that night.  Of course, if Rock wins, then the ball's in Cena's court to be the bigger man. At this point, if he lost tomorrow, he probably would be the bigger man.

Fact is, we've seen Cena be the bigger man. We've seen it too many times. No man is without his limit. No man is without his breaking point. No man can go forever and not bend. Fans young and old need to see Cena grow up, accept his limitations and act on them.

It's the most common lesson every child needs to learn. If they can't handle seeing a TV character disappoint them, how in the hell will they be able to handle losing a loved one? Losing a job?  Watching a friend die? Moving away? Compromising for any kind of greater good?

They won't learn those things by watching Cena stay a boy scout the rest of his career, that's for sure.