Wrasslin’ Wednesday 11/5/2014Posted: November 4, 2014
VINCE IS BACK.
Derek: Okay, we got that out of the way. We’re coming to you live (two days later) from Buffalo! And THE CHAIRMAN is back.
Damn you, WWE. You give me weeks of disappointment. I turn on Raw half-asleep with zero expectations, wondering if we’re going to top 500 words on Wrasslin’ Wednesday without resorting to some kind of gimmick. Then you give me Mr. McMahon and I’m 100% back in. You bought me a nice shiny ring and I forgot all about that mess in Colorado.
Will: Excuse me; I need to jump in here. That Titantron video is just delightful. It’s perfect. Everything about it makes me happy. His peacocking down the ramp, his face on million-dollar bills, his sniffing a huge stack of cash, his Manziel money signs (or does Johnny do Vince money signs?), the eerie red camera filter accentuating his evil mug; it’s the best.
His entrance on Raw was spot-on. He rightly got a huge pop and lapped it all up. He shot his cuffs and tugged on his lapels roughly 75 times in the 45 seconds it took him to get into the ring. What a man.
Also, JBL cried out “What a gorgeous family!” of Triple H, Stephanie, and Vince once they got into the ring. Then Stephanie pretended to bow down to her father, which was really uncomfortable and made me wonder about things about which I would rather not wonder.
Welcome back, Chairman. We missed you.
Derek: Gotta say, it was a roller coaster at first. The first thing Vince does when he reaches the ring is start pitching the WWE Network, and I nearly do a complete 180.
Let me explain. For those of you less cultured readers who aren’t caught up on WWE programming, Hulk Hogan has been coming out to the ring sporadically for the last, oh, nine months or so. They made a big deal about him coming back at first, and announced him as the host of Wrestlemania. It was nice to have the Hulkster back home.
Sadly, Hulkamania isn’t running wild these days. Whenever Hulk comes out, he’s nothing but a pitchman. He stands in the ring and talks about the WWE Network and why you should buy it, then leaves. He stands in the ring and talks about why you should watch Upcoming Pay Per View X, then leaves. He stands in the ring and talks about how breast cancer is bad, the women who have it and fight it are the real heroes (the troops are offended) and then leaves. Hogan appearances are just commercials, and he’s almost as skippable as Rusev.
So when Mr. McMahon walks out, and my hopes are sky-high, and the first thing he does is talk about the WWE Network, it doesn’t feel good. I fear that we just have another once-great character using his past success to shoehorn yet another WWE Network advertisement into the show.
Will: Yes, that was a bummer. Listen, I would listen to Vince hawk anything from Ginsu knives to VHS players, but that is not when he’s at his best. He’s at his best when he is full of righteous indignation or white-collar condescension, or ideally, a combination of both. He’s at his best when he is antagonizing the world.
Derek: Then Mr. McMahon starts listing off the rivals he’s defeated. He talks about defeating Ted Turner and WCW and I’m so jacked I have to do some pushups.
Will: Ah, that’s better! Vince on Monday night, verbatim: “I remember when I beat the United States government. God, that was a great accomplishment.”
What a hero.
Derek: But then — THEN — Mr. McMahon adds a stipulation to the Team Cena vs. Team Authority match at Survivor Series: If Team Authority loses, they will no longer be The Authority! They’ll lose all of their power!
Do you realize where this could be going?! Will, explain where this could be going!
Will: I’m glad you asked, for I have a theory. I don’t know if or when this idea might come to pass, but here it is:
Fans have been calling for a Cena heel turn for
weeks months years. It will happen at some point, because wrestling, but it won’t happen until it is absolutely necessary, because merchandise sales. Such a turn would need to be executed well. The only thing worse than Cena remaining a face would be Cena’s heel turn being lame. He needs to be involved with a heavy hitter. And there is no heavier hitter in the wrestling world than Mr. Vincent K. McMahon.
Vince stipulating that the Authority will lose power if Team Authority loses at Survivor Series made Trips and Steph uneasy. We know this because they look at each other uneasily and say “What was that?” after Vince departs (in his limo, natch). If I know anything, this will not be the last time that we see trouble in Corporate Paradise.
Let’s say that Team Cena wins. Let’s say that Triple H and the current Authority are thrown from their perch. That will leave a power vacuum, which may as well be a wounded gazelle for Vince to pounce on. Vince is as reliable a performer as there is in wrestling and, not unlike Paul Heyman, he does it without fighting a match. WWE the Business is struggling, and Vince inserting himself into the action is a gambit to goose their numbers. So let’s say that Vince ascends to the on-screen throne once again. Let’s say that he embraces Cena as the face of WWE, and does so super-obnoxiously, as only he can.
Vince struts out every week and bellows about how Cena is the ideal role model, a hero surpassing even The Rock and Hogan, the man who should be entrusted with the future of sports entertainment. He tells the fans that he is the only one they should support or care about. Cena wins a bunch of matches, and Vince comes out to celebrate with him every time.
The only thing better than loving Vince is hating Vince. He’s a better heel than Dean Smith. He drums up all sorts of vitriol in the crowd, and Cena becomes a heel by proxy. Cena does his same old schtick, but now his fans who know him only as a face don’t know how to feel about it. Basically, Cena becomes Vince’s house boy.
Cena is not okay with this. He wants to be the face of the company, sure, but not this way. He can’t live in a world of boos, even if that’s what his world has mostly been for the past couple years. He needs to distance himself from Vince and make his own name. He expresses as much, but Vince tells him to be careful. You do not cross Vince McMahon unless you want to wind up back on the mean streets of West Newbury, Mass.
This all comes to a head when Cena delivers an AA to Vince. It makes him the enemy in the eyes of the Chairman, but a hero to the anti-establishment crowd, which is basically everyone who watches wrestling. He turns heel and back to face in the course of a couple months, but with a new, more self-centered identity. He’ll never be Stone Cold, but he can co-opt bits of the “Don’t Trust Anyone” ethos.
Could this be something? Will Cena ever actually be re-invented, or is this just wishful thinking?
Derek: That’s probably the best Cena heel-turn scenario we can hope for. I don’t think we’ll ever see Cena turn heel the way Hogan did. I don’t think it’s so much the merchandise, but the children.
WWE likes to point this out, and it’s one of the most baffling facts in the world: John Cena has granted more Make-A-Wish Foundation wishes than any other single individual. In the world. Ever.
Not Justin Bieber. Not LeBron James. Not Peyton Manning. I mean, think of every single famous person in the world who is currently alive. Every athlete and singer and actor is behind John Cena. Two of the Beatles are still alive! Yet, when a dying child wants to meet a famous person, and they have their choice of pretty much anyone in the world, it’s John Cena.
As much as WWE must love this, it kind of puts them over a barrel. Could they make Cena a heel on Brock Lesnar’s level knowing that there are dying children watching Raw, wearing Never Give Up wristbands and looking to Cena for inspiration? Would Cena even be willing to go along with it knowing what it could do to them? Could I personally go along with it? Is my entertainment really worth it? Could I watch Heel Cena and not have this in the back of my mind?
I could go on, but I think that’s quite enough drama for a wrasslin’ column that is meant to celebrate the return of Mr. McMahon. The point is, I don’t think we ever a get a Cena heel turn that makes him a legitimate bad guy, as fun as that would be to watch. We need Reluctant Heel Cena.
There was a stretch in 2010 when we got Reluctant Heel Cena, and there may have been other times I’ve not heard about. In that arc, Cena was pretty much Wade Barrett’s slave, and it ended with him getting “fired.” I think your idea is better, though. It involves more screen time for Vince, and the part about business not going so well for Vince at the moment makes it even more interesting. If Vince relentlessly pitched the WWE Network as a heel move and shoved Cena down our throats, it would be awesome.
Then, Cena could move from Reluctant Heel Cena to Stone Cold Light or Diet Stone Cold or whatever you want to call him. You’re right about him never being Stone Cold, but it would be the most entertaining way they’ve used him since I started watching again last year.
Speaking of Stone Cold, here’s another theory: what if Team Cena wins and Stone Cold himself fills the power void? What’s he doing now, besides his podcast? I know his body is shot and he can’t wrestle, but how cool would it be to have him as an on-screen authority figure?
Will: Excuse me again for a minute:
OH MY GOD, YES! IN! They could make up a story about Stone Cold swindling his way into a minority share of the company or something. Or not, whatever, I don’t care.
Everyone is in the ring sorting out the wreckage of Cena v. Authority, and then suddenly:
Derek: I think something like this would be WWE’s best move. They keep releasing all of these awesome documentaries (not that I subscribe to the WWE Network or anything) about the Monday Night Wars and Austin/McMahon and Mick Foley and all of the other Attitude-era greats. Why not just bring them back?
I mean, look at us. We’re approaching the 2,000 word mark and we haven’t discussed a single thing that happened on Raw except for the five minutes that featured Vincent Kennedy McMahon. And it was a pretty good episode! I have to think there are like-minded twenty-somethings out there who would hear about Chief Operating Officer Stone Cold Steve Austin and tune into Raw for the first time since 2000. Or what if Mick Foley started his own stable of outcast wrestlers? The characters are so great they don’t even have to wrestle.
Obviously, I have no idea about the logistics of this or the availability of those guys. Maybe they’ve been trying to do it for years. Still, one of their chief selling points for the WWE Network is “Remember when this happened? Subscribe to the WWE Network and watch!” If that’s such a huge part of the pitch, then I don’t know why they don’t just embrace the past and mix it with the present in a meaningful way, instead of “Whatchagonnadoooo when the WWE Network runs wild on you, brother?!”
So, we’re running a little long, but we should mention one more thing: Rusev is the new United States Champion. He was also asked to join Team Authority, but hasn’t given an answer yet. We’ve been openly anti-Rusev in previous installments of Wrasslin’ Wednesday. Does this increase your interest-levels at all?
Will: I love the symbolism of the evil Russian wearing the American belt, and I think this is a smart direction to take him, but nah. No chance in hell. This Raw was about one man, and one man only.
Team Vince for life.