John Cena never turned heel in WWE after becoming a very popular face around Survivor Series in 2003.
That’s a long time to be running as a babyface and 16 world title reigns followed.
Over the years, fans have complained about Cena’s stale character. Knowing the charisma he possesses and undeniable quality on the mic, many fans wanted to see WWE’s resident Superman turn heel to freshen things up.
Cena is in Hollywood more these days, but he only really made the transition from full-time performer two years ago. That’s a hell of a run as a good guy.
Former WWE writer Matt McCarthy appeared on the We Watch Wrestling podcast and spoke about what Vince McMahon saw in Cena being a heel and why ultimately it didn’t happen.
“Vince kept trying to figure out how do we do like a Bret Hart thing? Where he’s a heel in some places, but he’s a babyface in the rest of the places. Cena was like, ‘If I’m going heel, I want to go full heel,’ and it did get close enough to the point where, and I’m sure he still has this gear, like Cena had gear made for the heel turn, you know? No longer the jorts.”
“I don’t know what the gear was, but he had specific gear made ready and waiting and then obviously we know it never happened, and there was a point in the discussions where it was like, ‘Well, the people who are gonna cheer him are going to continue to cheer him and the people who are gonna boo him, are just gonna keep booing him.’ So the thinking was, that’s the most heelish thing he can do is to stay that white meat, smiling, pure babyface.”
Cena has spoken in the past about wanting to turn heel during this lucrative feud with The Rock. The pair met at WrestleMania 28 and 29, but it was always a face versus face battle with the WWE title on the line in the second meeting.
For context, Bret Hart was beloved in his home country of Canada, but he was despised in America during the apex of his run with The Hart Foundation in 1997.
How McMahon thought that would work with all-American John Cena isn’t clear. Despite WWE portraying it as mixed reactions at the time, Cena was pretty universally booed for a number of years.
And that was never indicative of his talent or of the respect the fans may or may not have had for him – it was purely their desire to see something fresh in his character.
Cena is now rumoured to be making a return to WWE for SummerSlam on August 21 in Las Vegas. WWE are returning to touring in July and SummerSlam is going to be their first full stadium show since the Coronavirus pandemic began.