The only thing John Cena has managed to change over the last several years is the color of his shirts. Cena's routine, including his in-ring ability has remained the same for years now.
Cena has become stale.
The Doctor of Thuganomics used to rap about how he was slaughtering stale competition. What happens though, when you become the stale competition?
Cena has been stale for a while now. The same rise above hate attitude, the same routine in the ring and even how he never lets anything bother him. No matter the opponent, Cena never changes.
A heel turn, like so many fans want, isn't enough of an answer to help take Cena from stale to fresh. Instead, changing his gimmick to something else, even showing more emotion would be enough to take some of the staleness away.
Change Is Sometimes Bad
Cena wasn't always stale. Cena was entertaining with his Thuganomics gimmick when he was first entering WWE. He would come out to the ring with different raps each week. They were entertaining to say the least, and helped Cena build a solid fan base.
When he changed his gimmick though, from Thuganomics to an early start of what we see now, Cena began to move toward being stale. He would drop the rapping for the most part, and begin to enter the Rise Above Hate gimmick.
However, it's not exactly a gimmick. Cena tweeted over a year ago, a response to a fan stating how he was neither face or heel, but himself.
Cena himself then, is stale. He never gets angry, except for his brief feud with Kane, and always talks about rising above hate with one of his colored shirts on.
Even when Lesnar made his return and hit Cena with his F-5, Cena would walk out slowly to the ring the following week and slap Lesnar in the face. Why not charge at him, get revenge for what Lesnar had done the previous week?
Thuganomics Cena would have gone after Lesnar right away, not simply slap him and hope for the best.
It's not just the feud with Lesnar though, where we saw more of John Cena the person, and less of Cena the wrestler.
Cena's feud with the Rock, leading up to WrestleMania 28, was another example of him and how his Rise Above Hate gimmick has gotten stale. Fan's reacted big to Cena when he brought out his Thuganomics routine when cutting a promo against the Rock. However, Cena would still rant about how he needed to beat the Rock in other promos and even how he was going to beat him.
Yet when Cena lost at WrestleMania 28, he simply sat there, trying to believe what happened. Sure, he had little time to react the next Monday night because of Lesnar's return, but Cena has never seemed to let the Rock's win get to him.
Cena showed lack of emotion even when losing one of the biggest matches of his career. Would the Doctor of Thuganomics react the same way?
Cena supposedly acting like himself, instead of a face or a heel, makes him stale. When other wrestlers are playing a heel or a face role, how can Cena fit in and act like himself for years without being stale?
In The Ring
One of the biggest arguments for Cena being stale is his wrestling ability.
His "five moves of doom" are often referred to in proving how stale Cena’s in ring ability is. No matter the opponent Cena uses the same move set to finish the match, making him extremely predictable.
Sure, a lot of wrestlers have used a move set over and over again, but it still makes an in-ring performance stale after years of the same routine.
It’s not only about constantly using the same moves, though. A bigger problem is how he always wins. How many times can one man talk about rising above hate and constantly win? What hate is he rising above? The hatred aimed at how much he wins, how predictable it is? Wouldn't winning then add to that hatred?
It's not that people hate Cena winning. It's how he looks like superman because he never loses. It gets stale fast when a wrestler not only uses the same move set in the ring, but always ends up winning in the end.
If not for CM Punk and his dominate year, Cena would have been the same unstoppable wrestler that we have seen for years now.
Having Cena lose every now and then would surprise fans who expect him to constantly win. Changing up some of his in-ring moves would also help in breathing new life into Cena's current stale performances.
The Good Guy
Cena arguably started getting stale in 2008. Wrestling the same people, Triple H and Orton for example, over and over again became boring very fast.
He got a big reaction when he returned during the Royal Rumble, but his matches after the Rumble were all the same. It became extremely boring, and fans grew tired of it. Other stars like CM Punk and Hardy were pushed closer to the main event, but Cena would remain the biggest draw.
2011 happened and even more fans turned their backs on Cena. Was he really going to win a popularity contest against the Rock?
And how does Cena react to the fans dislike of him? He remains a babyface, vowing to never turn his back on the fans, even though a majority had turned their back on him. Why not turn your back on the fans who boo you? Why not go into WrestleMania 28 as the bad guy?
It would have made sense if he was a little upset about being out casted by the fans and their love for the Rock.
Instead Cena remained a face, one who was booed, and continues to get booed as the fans are forced to accept Cena as a face wrestler.
Cena is in the spotlight so much that when he doesn't change up his gimmick, and uses the same moves in the ring, it becomes much more noticeable.
He needs to surprise the audience, change it up—show emotions, get mad, lose a match or two and try to surprise the audience.
Or throw everything out the window, turn heel and pray it works.
Look what it did for Hogan.
The only thing Cena does change is the color of his shirt, which is not enough to stop him from getting stale.