Bell To Bell: A Character vs. A Person
The Rock and John Cena were in the ring again this week. Based on this week and last week’s shows, I think I’ve got the format down: First guy gets in the ring and talks for awhile, second guy comes out and shoots him down, second guy leaves, first guy retaliates and closes the show. Fair enough.
Of the many elements that make this program so appealing, for my money the most important one is that when you get right down to it, both men are right. Whether you like Cena or not, The Rock is right when he says WWE has forced him down our gullets for the past several years. Whether you like The Rock or not, Cena is right when he says he up and left WWE, and didn’t so much as pop in for a visit to the fans that, in his own words, made him who he is. No matter how many promos these guys cut, nothing can change either of those things. So now we’re left at an impasse, and all that’s left to do is enjoy the ride.
And my God, what a ride it is. But why? Yes, we’ve got two of the biggest stars the industry has ever seen, facing one another at the industry’s biggest event. But it’s more than that. We’re getting something here that we don’t often get in WWE these days, particularly from John Cena.
Do me a favor. Find the footage from last night’s show where Cena is sitting in the empty arena, talking about this match. Then, watch his exchange with Rocky later in the show. Something is different. Tell me what you think it is…
In the first clip, we’re getting the John Cena we usually get. He’s a man who loves what he does, and is very passionate about giving the people a great show. But he’s also reciting, he’s saying his lines, he’s acting. Somebody either wrote this for him, or helped him write it. How do I know? Because what he’s saying sounds like a persuasive essay, not someone speaking from the heart.
Here’s an oddball comparison for you. At one point, when speaking to George Lucas about some of the dialogue he’d written for the original Star Wars movie, Harrison Ford said: ”George, you can type this shit, but you sure as hell can’t say it.” It’s the same principle here. Cena’s not talking, he’s remembering and regurgitating. Typically when he gets in front of a crowd it’s more of the same, but with a bit more ad-libbing and the volume turned up.
Compare that to what Cena said later in the show. My God! There’s a person under there! A real, live person with thoughts and feelings of his very own! He’s not reciting sterile dialogue penned by writers who’ve likely never been out in front of a crowd that size, and can’t relate at all to what he’s doing. Cena knows the gist of what he’s supposed to say, but he’s saying it his way. He’s got bullet points. Watch any promo The Rock has ever done. Same thing. Watch one of CM Punk’s lengthier promos. Same thing.
I don’t claim to be an expert in the inner workings of pro wrestling or crowd psychology, but as a fan for over a decade, let me tell you something: this is how you create stars, ladies and gentlemen. This a big part of what’s missing from today’s product. Individuality. Give three talking points to three different people, and tell them to write a monologue that covers all three of those points. All three speakers will be talking about the same things, but they’ll get there in their own way. That’s what we need to see more of in WWE, and that’s a big part of what will create new names to put on those big marquees. Don’t just show me a character. Yes, the initial spin you put on a wrestler is important, but at the end of the day the character isn’t real! Show me a person. A person is something I can root for! Something I can get behind!
Something I care about! Monday night, we saw the difference between John Cena the character, and John Cena the person. No matter what happens at Wrestlemania, here’s hoping we see more people on our TV screens in the near future.
Thoughts from Raw:
— I’m a huge Shawn Michaels fan. He’s the best of all time, in my book. But why add him to The Undertaker and Triple H’s Wrestlemania match? We’ve already got two of the greatest of all time inside Hell in a Cell. That’s all we need. We didn’t need Shawn to spice it up any more than that. But wow…next week HBK and The Undertaker back on camera together? That’s must see TV if it ever existed…
— Go figure. Jack Swagger, the “All American” wrestler, wins the United States Championship, and then absolutely NOTHING comes of it. Just like when they gave him the World Heavyweight Title. A complete dud. And why is that? Because the man has the personality of a fruit fly. Great athlete? Yes. Good wrestler? Yes. Future superstar? Sorry, Jack. Not at this rate. Santino deserved the title, though. Hard work and charisma pay off.
— Great acting, John Laurinaitis. “I’ll get you Teddy! I’ll get you!!!!”
— Few things make me smile more than Daniel Bryan’s entrance. “YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!”
— So we’re reading Tweets on the air now, huh? That might be interesting if Michael Cole can smooth out his delivery a bit.
— I like the fact that this Cody Rhodes/Big Show angle is making use of Show’s terrible Wrestlemania record. Some of it was pretty cringeworthy, after all. Getting shunned to WWE New York during the biggest show of the year? Yikes… I’m just waiting for him to get to the infamous sumo wrestling match with Akebono. Big Show’s butt cheeks. Now THERE’s your Wrestlemania moment.
— On a side note, Cody really needs to knock off that fake supervillain laugh. It’s terrible.
Front page image from nerdreactor.com. Image 1 from cagesideseats.com. Image 2 from 4shared.net. Image 3 from bleacherreport.com.