Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What’s Next for John Cena After Falling to A.J. Styles at Summerslam?

Submitted by: Joren B. Apiquian
            If you told any professional wrestling fan a year ago that John Cena would go toe-to-toe with A.J. Styles in the rivalry of the summer, they would call you a moronic individual who should keep dreaming. They would call you even more morose names if you were to say that A.J. Styles would be the inevitable victor in the feud without resorting to any underhanded tactics. Alas, that became a reality during this year’s Summerslam extravaganza as Cena fell to The Phenomenal One after several Phenomenal Forearms and Styles Clashes.
            In the eyes of the hardcore fans, John Cena’s biggest issue was the fact that he was never booked to put over younger stars on the come up, diminishing any momentum they have earned up to that point. Performers such as Wade Barrett, Zack Ryder, Ryback, Bray Wyatt, Rusev, and Kevin Owens have fallen victim to Cena’s dominate booking over the years. Many thought A.J. Styles was destined for the same treatment, but this particular booking decision proves that management is keeping a keen eye on Styles’ future, which is delightful for longtime fans of his work.
            After Cena accepted defeat at Summerslam and Styles’ music faded as he returned to the locker room, The Face That Runs the Place sat in silence amongst the raucous Brooklyn crowd. He removed his armband that stated” “Never Give Up,” kissed it, left it in the ring, and gave the crowd a defeated look as he disappeared for the rest of the broadcast. Although answers may be given on tonight’s episode of Smackdown Live! this has sparked many questions regarding Cena’s future. Let’s take a look at some possible directions that John Cena can taking following his sixth consecutive loss at Summerslam.

Cena Starts Working Part-Time
            John Cena has been atop WWE ever since he won his first WWE Championship in 2005, making him the most consistent face in the company over   his predecessors. He’s seen the best and worst come and go, yet he has always stuck around. Over the last couple years, he has found considerable success in other outlets of pop culture such as hosting the ESPYS, Teen Choice Awards, and American Grit. He also made a big splash on the silver screen as provided comedic relief in the sleeper summer hit Trainwreck and Sisters late last year. Most recently, Cena has been entertaining housewives across America with his new Hefty Bag commercials which exposes him to a whole new audience as well. Cena seems destined to follow the same path that The Rock took after his full-time WWE career came to an end at the age of 39. Although he has gotten mixed reactions from fans throughout his career, he will go down as one of the all time greats in the industry. He’s done everything one can imagine in the business. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see him working on different projects outside of professional wrestling. Chris Jericho, Steve Austin, Brock Lesnar, and The Rock have found success outside of sports entertainment and Cena will be no different. Once they have a lighter schedule and appear more sporadically, it makes their return to Vince McMahon’s universe that much more special. If Cena’s look of woe towards the audience in Brooklyn was his swan song to a full-time WWE schedule, he did a superb job saying sayonara to the audience.

Cena Will Resume the Burials
            As stated earlier, Cena has a notorious track record when it comes to burying younger talent. He may have taken his loss to A.J. Styles as a sign that he is losing his touch. He has always represented himself as an individual who had nothing short of an iron will. For instance, when was the last time Cena has lost a match via submission? He rarely gets beaten clean and when it does happen, he usually ends up defeating the individual on the following pay-per-view. While this probably won’t be the case for Styles, Cena may start to feud with other younger talents to improve his win-loss record which is already stellar. Younger Smackdown Live! Superstars such as Baron Corbin, Dean Ambrose, Apollo Crews and even tag team tandems like The Vaudevillians, The Ascension, and Breezango can square off with Cena in the weeks to come. Unfortunately, not many of the aforementioned Superstars will have a realistic shot at beating the leader of the Cenation. Casual fans are still head over heels for John Cena and even hardcore fans can admit that he has stepped up his in-ring performances over the last few years. Cena remains the most marketable personality in the company. Daniel Bryan seemed like he was on course to take the throne, but injuries shortened his career. Hopefully, Finn Bálor is not on the same route. John Cena is still the lead merchandise seller in the company and Vince McMahon usually rewards individuals for their sales. Although it would be much to the chagrin of internet fans around the world, it would not be surprising to see Cena go on a rampage by devouring a vast majority of the Smackdown Live! locker room in order to maintain his status as being the top babyface in the company.

Cena Finally Turns Heel

            Fans’ mouths have been watering for years over the idea of John Cena turning heel and heading over to the dark side. In this day and age, it seems unlikely due to the fact that he has been a marquee name within the industry for well over a decade. He serves as a role model to fans of all ages as he preaches his “Never Give Up” sermon to people associated with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Susan G. Komen, and the Armed Forces. It is a highly doubtful to say the least, but anything is possible. He has feuded with villains and heroes over the years, but he has rarely displayed heel tactics. If WWE really want fans to believe in their whole “New Era” spiel, there would be no better way to do it than turning Cena heel. However, they would have to execute it perfectly in order for it to work. Who would he turn on? How would he change his appearance and demeanor? Will he align himself with other heel Superstars? For example, Cena can congratulate A.J. Styles for his victory at Summerslam and as he is hoisting his arm in the air, Cena can pull Styles in and floor him with a devastating clothesline. Not only would this enrage fans for his conniving tactics, but it would execute a double-turn by making A.J. Styles a sympathetic babyface. The double-turn is rarely ever used correctly, but take a look back at when WWE performed it with Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler in the summer of 2013. They have been booked terribly after the turn, but Ziggler was idolized as a heel and Del Rio was berated as a face. It was simply perfect booking for the moment. This is not a case of Steve Austin aligning himself with Mr. McMahon. John Cena receives a polarizing amount of cheers and boos while Austin has been beloved his entire career. Imagine the reaction of the crowd if he were to come out to a completely new song and attire. Would he bring the rapper gimmick back? Would he have The Ascension as his henchmen? Would he become cowardly and leave the ring in the middle of his matches? The possibilities are endless and if the time is indeed right, WWE should fire on all cylinders.

What does the future hold for Cena? Let us know in the comment section!

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