Bell To Bell: The Value of Loyalty
For the most part, wrestling fans are big on loyalty and respect for the performers that earn it. That’s why they’re not big on outsiders and newbies. If you work hard for them and earn your stripes, they might not like you, but at the very least they’ll respect you. Obviously a strong percentage of the fans don’t like John Cena, but the mature ones respect him for his tireless efforts for the sport and the company he loves.
Still, a lot of us still just aren’t that into him. For years he’s been stuck in this G.I. Joe superhero character that, while popular with some, is often cliched and corny. Hell, the night after he lost to The Rock at Wrestlemania, he actually went out there and said: “No one goes undefeated in life, and a true champion retains the will to win even through their most disappointing loss.” Look John, that’s a great sentiment. But do you have to be so damn preachy about the whole thing? Seriously, why don’t you just go make a friggin’ after school special.
Re-enter Brock Lesnar.
Fans are extremely excited to see Lesnar back, as they should be. His character, if not the man himself, is the antithesis of John Cena. He doesn’t say much, he certainly doesn’t spout WWE press releases and superhero sound bytes. He’s a legit tough guy, having won a UFC Championship, in addition to an NCAA Heavyweight Wrestling Championship. He’s a bad ass, a predator, a man’s man, and a hell of a wrestler.
But as much as the fans love him, the fact is that for years Brock was gone. He left WWE, and its fans completely in his rear view mirror. Yes, he wrestled in Japan for a little while. But then he went to play football, and then switched to MMA. Brock left professional wrestling, just like The Rock left professional wrestling. But while The Rock would at least check in with a satellite message or even a one-off guest appearance once in a blue moon, Lesnar was simply gone. And in both their absences, it was John Cena who carried the ball for mainstream wrestling. It was John Cena on the road night after night, town after town, show after show. But by and large, who hears more cheers from the crowd? The Rock does. Brock Lesnar does.
As much as I love The Rock, and as happy as I am to see Lesnar back, there’s something that feels very wrong about cheering them over Cena. I guess it’s like dating the super hot high school cheerleader, but then she dumps you, and you wind up with the more “regular” looking girl with a heart of gold. But then the cheerleader suddenly decides she wants you back, and you’ve got to decide between the cheerleader who left you, and the girl who’ll love you no matter what. (All wrestling fans have been in that situation, right?) On paper it seems like a pretty easy decision. But once you actually get there, maybe it’s not.
WWE has obviously been toying with this dynamic all year, and they’ve been able to successfully convert more than a few fans to John Cena’s side. Cena’s love for the wrestling business is one of the few qualities he has that still endears him to just about everybody. Everything else divides the audience like the Red Sea.
But apparently, even something the fans treasure as much as loyalty only gets you so far. Evidently, Cena’s won’t be getting rewarded for the loyalty and respect he’s shown us over the last decade. And considering his character has now had two other characters question his suitability for his role as the company’s top dog, a role he’s rightfully earned, that’s actually pretty sad.
Have we become hypocrites?
Thoughts from Raw:
— Major kudos to Beth Phoenix for working through a nasty ankle sprain mid-match. She’s a credit to female wrestlers everywhere. It was terrible to see how much she was legitimately suffering in there. Here’s hoping she comes back at 100% ASAP.
— That being said, I can only assume the match with Nikki Bella ended as planned, with Nikki picking up the win and the Divas Championship. And with that in mind, I say… WHAT A LOAD OF CRAP. So let me get this straight, Beth Phoenix, the most dominant woman WWE has on their roster (remember, Kharma hasn’t wrestled yet), who’s held her title for over 200 days, loses the title in a non-advertised match to one of the Bella twins? What a total slap in the face to Beth. She deserved to lose the title to someone a hell of a lot more credible, like Natalya, Tamina, Kharma, or even Kelly Kelly again. Nikki Bella has undoubtedly worked hard to improve in the ring, and I respect what she’s accomplished with her sister Brie in WWE. But this isn’t how it should have gone down. Once again, the creative geniuses at WWE have dropped the ball.
— Yikes. Um…can we not give Brock any more big monologues? “This is a real feeling that you’re feeling, because I am feeling it.” WHAT????? Lesnar only needed to say four words in that segment. After the reluctant Cena signs the contract, Lesnar takes the mic from Laurinaitis and says: “Now I own you.”
— The chain on Cena’s right hand during the contract segment was a nice touch. It made him look afraid of Lesnar, which is obviously what they’re going for heading into Extreme Rules.
— You think it’s a coincidence that they showed old footage of Lesnar beating up Jeff Hardy, Hulk Hogan and Kurt Angle, all of whom are major TNA names? Me either.
— CM Punk was hilarious last night during his “drunk” skit, and Jericho’s reactions were perfect.
— What exactly did The Miz do to warrant this three-week banishment from Raw? They had three hours this week, and they didn’t do anything with him! He got the pinfall for Laurinaitis’ team at Wrestlemania, so he had momentum on his side. What happened?
— I actually like the Brodus Clay/Hornswoggle pairing. The little guy’s jovial nature goes well with Brodus’ dancing gimmick. God knows it’s better than having him be one of the main characters on the show, as he was a few years ago.
Front page image from lasvegassun.com. Images 1 and 3 from wwe.com. Image 2 from sportsillustrated.cnn.com.