If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. - James Whitcomb Riley
I wonder if Riley ever imagined his simple phrase for inductive reasoning would become so complex in the grand scheme of things.
In the beginning of last year, WWE Superstar John Cena entered in a feud with one of the greatest superstars of all time in Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
Originally, the battle was supposed to be a battle of two different generations. One generation being the gritty and in your face aura of the Attitude Era. The other, the more polished and clean "PG Era."
But the journey of John Cena throughout the past year witnessed this path being altered into something vastly different. A path that has lead to a questioning of roles, ideas and what we all thought we knew so well.
The twist and turns first began with the unexpected rise of CM Punk. When Punk's contract was expiring back in June 2011, his future in the WWE viewed very cloudy at best. Bischoff and the boys over at TNA were polishing their printers for a Straight Edge contract.
Meanwhile, John Cena was enjoying another WWE title after he finally disposed of The Miz and was able to keep The Rock at bay.
Then the infamous shoot happened. One night CM Punk was given the freedom to express what a large part of the fanbase for the past five years agonized over. He shot fires over the stale state, the problems of his era, and the man in particular who represented this era, John Cena.
Punk would go on to enter the Money in the Bank 2011 WWE championship match as a huge crowd favorite and would go on to win the title.
Chicago's less than lovely welcome of Cena was actually topped by Survivor Series several months later. When the "Never Before, Never Again" tag team with Rock was advertised for Madison Square Garden, New Yorkers heavily "marked out" for the return of The Great One.
"You Can't Wrestle" and even some "F- You Cena chants" were shouted. Quite frankly, not a single you know what was given to Cena on that day.
But negative crowd reactions are nothing new to Cena. It seems to be the norm now and he seems to readily accept it, even when the WWE brass don't. Cena himself has addressed the audience and even tries to thank them for it in several promos.
What is new, however, is that for the first time in a long ass time, Cena is not being booked as a dominant force. As a matter of fact, he is being booked as a heel.
Which brings us back to Riley's timeless words.
When Cena lost to Rock at WrestleMania 28 I will be the first to say, I was surprised as hell to hear the news. The Rock and John Cena had been going back and forth for a year, with the majority of fans siding for Rock. But that never before stopped WWE from letting Cena have his "Rise Above Hate" moment.
Cena had just been "rejuvenated" winning the feud with Kane. Cena had been in a funk for a while, but his win against Kane in the ambulance match was meant to confirm that Cena was back better than ever and that WrestleMania 28 was meant to be his.
But shockingly, that wasn't the case.
First of all, the way Cena lost spoke volumes. Cena's character always shows humility and happiness for everything and anything. And for Cena to pretty much blow the match with cockiness and mocking of the People's Elbow seemed to have begun a brand-new story in the saga of John Cena.
I'll be honest, that was a blatant heel move.
Now before you go to click on other articles from being tired of hearing the ol' "CENA IS TURNING HEEL!" mess, not so fast. I'm not saying Cena is turning heel. He very well probably isn't.
What I am asking is a question.
WWE and Cena in particular has made it blatantly clear that he is not turning heel. Fine, I accept that. Hell, as one who is very neutral on Cena and was rooting for The Rock either way, I had accepted that.
However, with Cena now looking even more weak against Brock Lesnar and coming off a clean victory against Cena, I can't help but wonder.
If you don't want Cena to be heel, then why are you booking him and making him look like one?
The standard formula of a heel is the fact that for all of their talent, their attitude keeps them lower than their face counterparts. Heels usually gain the upper hand every now and then in order to add to the face's adversity, but in the end of it all they are bumped down a peg or two.
After all, this has been the long time standard of Cena's own feuds against the likes of Edge and Randy Orton.
But now the shoe is on the other foot. John Cena for the past year has upped the ante on his "good guy" persona and trying to exemplify perfection and greatness to counter his enemies. But with the feuds of Punk, Rock, and now Lesnar, in the end he's been the one pegged down a notch.
Quite frankly, another actual clean loss against Lesnar views shockingly realistic, though it's odd to have the top face of the company be stood up big time two feuds in a row and then after the Punk saga of last year.
Cena in his program with The Rock was able to gain his own momentum every now and then. Hell, he was even allowed to go back to his Doctor of Thuganomics roots in order to try to win back some of the fans' support.
But in the end, his heel-like cockiness cost him the biggest match of his lifetime. And to many, it showed that no matter how great Cena is, he is still only a superstar, not a legend.
In addition, Cena has been addressing the fans and telling him what he *won't* do. That he is not gonna turn his back on his fanbase.
However, Cena can be viewed as a hypocrite in that regard. If you love the fans and appreciate the audience so much, then why won't you listen to what they are telling you?
Why won't you adhere to the call of change when you are the first to say "Adapt and Overcome"? What makes you too good to listen to their advice when legends of the past like Austin and Hogan did?
And now Cena has been getting destroyed by Lesnar. Similar to Rock, Lesnar shows absolutely no fear against Cena and faces him head on.
So Cena has been in two straight feuds that have seen the crowd go largely against his favor. He has seen two great foes who will face him man to man without any help actually conquer him.
He has lost a match due to arrogance and him doing so much to buy into his own persona and greatness. And quite frankly, he doesn't give a damn about how the fans feel about it.
But yet, WWE insists on making a new "Rise Above Hate" shirts in new bright colors and selling him as the mega-face of the WWE.
But if you are gonna sell him as the "man" of his era, why make him look so weak, naive and inconsistent to those of the past generations and in effect actually proving his detractors correct?
Therefore, I will leave this article the way I begun it with a question:
If he gets booed like a heel, acts like a heel, and now gets booked like a heel, then why not make him a heel?
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