Yet another post about John Cena…
A WWE Legends of Wrestling video on YouTube caught my attention last Friday. In this particular installment of the series, the roundtable discussion focused on wrestling’s greatest “overachievers” and “underachievers.”
The panel, which consisted of “Mean” Gene Okerlund, JJ Dillon, Jim Ross, Robert “Sgt. Slaughter” Remus, and “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, discussed the careers of several superstars that exceeded expectations and fell short of living up to the hype surrounding them.
In the fifth video of this particular series, Jim Ross and JJ Dillon get into a friendly banter about the career of Bill Goldberg, who was considered among the group as an “underachiever.” Ross took some exception to this, which caused Dillon to elaborate on his particular stance on Goldberg.
Watch the video here:
Here’s the quote from Dillon that stood out to me the most:
“…even Superman after a while, if there wasn’t such a thing as a kryptonite where a guy could be vulnerable to something, they’re gonna…they’re gonna not stand behind him any longer.
(Ted DiBiase) “He was one dimensional”
“He was one dimensional. He has to fail at some point for the people to relate to him emotionally…”
As a fan, looking back at the impressive career of John Cena is a mind-boggling experience. Multiple championship reigns, record-breaking blockbuster movies sales, more wishes granted with the Make-A-Wish Foundation than imaginable…the man is truly an institution in and of himself.
To put it mildly, John Cena is damn near unstoppable. Perhaps that’s why fans are starting to turn against him with each passing moment.
Remove all of the excuses, fluff, and speculation that attempts to justify why Cena receives the divided crowd reaction each and every week. JJ Dillon’s comments about Goldberg also fit the beloved WWE icon that fans love to hate and hate to love; a growing number of fans can no longer relate to the man that won us over with his “hustle, loyalty, and respect.”
John Cena has only been taken off of TV by two things: injuries (a torn pectoral muscle and herniated disc in his neck) and Aaron “Jesús” Aguilera. Outside of that, Cena has barreled through opponents and has pretty much defeated most of the active roster in one form or another.
Even with the odds stacked against him, Cena’s “never say die” attitude resonated with fans in a way that was eerily (and perhaps purposefully) similar to the offbeat and profitable shenanigans on Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea.
The one constant in Cena’s career, however, was exactly that; he never gave up and was eventually “rewarded” for his resolve to conquer all obstacles. I DO NOT think it is coincidental that Cena’s “hard work pays off” character has been pushed to and protected at the top by a company owned by the very Republican Vincent Kennedy McMahon, Jr…but I digress.
Cena’s gimmick changed slightly (i.e. he stopped rapping), but his work ethic remained the same. Moving into his tenth year being a WWE Superstar, today’s John Cena is not that much different than the kid who in 2002 attempted to show Kurt Angle what “ruthless aggression” was all about.
When you consider that Goldberg’s streak went to 170+ televised victories, it makes sense that the only thing that could take him out was a cattle prod. Cena’s character as he stands now and did nine years ago is in that same situation. In my opinion, this is why many fans are clamoring for him to turn heel; after nine plus years of the same schtick, it’s about damn time for some change.
So here’s today’s talking point question: is it time for John Cena’s character to “evolve?” If so, what should that evolution look like? If not, how do you maintain his popularity among the current fan demographic?
I was perusing the net today while working when I ran across something that talked briefly about interview with former WWE Diva Maria Kanellis.
You remember Maria, don’t you? Well if you don’t, here’s the most un-risqué picture I could find of her on a work computer:
The interview was with James Guttman from ClubWWI fame, and the piece contains snippets from said interview. Click the hyperlink to read them if you like, but I really want to talk about ONE thing that stood out to me in those snippets.
Maria is asked about her stint in the WWE, and goes on to talk about the good and the bad when it came to working for the company. Mr. Guttman points out that Maria was released from the WWE just as her stint on Celebrity Apprentice began, to which she responds with the following:
“It’s funny. It happened with me. It happened with Ashley. It happened with Stacy. Jericho has left again. It’s just one of those weird things that happened. I think that it’s because WWE thinks that we get a big head about it. It’s not necessarily that we get a big head about it, it’s just we start to learn. We start to learn what’s out there. OK. This or that is going on. I want to fix it. I want to put it in my contract. I want to be able to talk about it. As soon as you start doing that, it was like you lose all leverage.”
Prior to that snippet, Mr. Guttman inquires about her transitioning from a WWE fan to a WWE performer, to which she apparently doesn’t really answer the question but provides some valuable talking points:
“I was surprised by how unhappy people were. It’s the greatest company in the world, but there are so many people within that company that still struggle with their creative abilities not being used. I think you see that in so many people that come out of it. They have motorcycle shops or they have tattoo parlors or they are designers and want to do fashion. Maryse just came out and said she wants to do fashion. Torrie wants to do fashion. Trish has her own yoga studio and her own yoga line. So many of us just feel creatively stifled.”
Thank you, Maria.
What struck me as intriguing about the bits of the interview I caught here was the notion that the WWE was “creatively stifling” for the obviously talented hordes of individuals that are fortunate enough to ink a deal with the company. I’m not surprised by this, because usually people who are released from their contracts — whether by force or intention — often cite the WWE’s vice-like stranglehold on their lives.
The most recent notable case of this involves former WWE Diva Gail Kim, who asked for her release because she felt disrespected by the WWE. As you remember, Kim notified WWE officials of her departure from the company ten minutes before the airing of a live episode of RAW…after which she promptly eliminated herself from a Divas Battle Royal.
In the interview listed above, Kim also sited that she was frustrated with the direction of the product, probably more so with the direction of the Divas division itself.
All things considered, the WWE is typically depicted by disgruntled employees as a dictatorship that steals souls and consumes fresh baby meat by the truckload on an hourly basis. The way it seems, Hitler would’ve been jealous of the power Vince McMahon exerts over his defenseless independent contractors.
My question is: what large U.S. for profit corporation doesn’t do that?
Politics exist everywhere and are not unique to the WWE. No matter what field we choose to make our livelihood in, there’s a fine and fancy dance we must all learn in order to advance in the ways we’d like to advance. Some people choose to tip-toe around the matter, while others wear the soles of their shoes ragged as they tap dance to the tune played by their bosses.
What sticks in my craw is when individuals pretend as if this isn’t the norm and act as if that entire system is not engrained in our North American system of values and work ethic.
Large corporations don’t give a hoot whether or not you’re creative if they’re not paying you to be creative in the first place. The way it works now, we’re all cogs in an intricate system and must function as such until we’re a) worn out beyond functional use or b) finely tuned to the point we can be relocated and operate elsewhere in a more productive fashion.
In the case of the WWE, wrestlers are hired to fulfill a particular role; if the WWE doesn’t provide that opportunity for you, then yes you will be creatively stifled. That, my friends, is the beauty of the world wide internet and water cooler gossip among coworkers: if you KNOW the WWE won’t let you do side projects without their approval, and you desire to do side projects…DON’T WORK FOR THE WWE.
Don’t get me wrong; you could be one of the plucky individuals that rages against the machine and affects some sort of change…but I guarantee you that won’t happen unless you get enough people to follow your lead. Seeing as everyone chooses to sell their souls to a given company (in this instance, the WWE), it’s obvious that it’d be extremely difficult to be “creatively free” in the WWE.
But again, that’s not just in the WWE; I would assume that’s in most major corporations in this company. You think my boss would let me go cut a rap album in two months when I’m supposed to be behind my desk proofreading documents and typing up these memos? Forget-about-it!
So here’s my question to you, lucky reader: do you think Maria’s comments, as poignant as they are, are warranted? Or do you think that there’s a slight chance that a good number of people are simply whining about something that the rest of the country deals with on a regular basis? Should the WWE receive so much flack for something most of us would lay down for in our own jobs?
Comment away below…and spread the word to others!