Jim Ross has given his thoughts on John Cena’s lengthy run as WWE’s top babyface and whether they missed an opportunity by not turning him heel.
John Cena was positioned as WWE’s biggest superstar for over a decade from 2005-2016. During this time he was often to be found in the main event scene and ended his full-time wrestling career having equalled Ric Flair’s record of 16 world championship reigns. This was despite an increasingly mixed reception from fans, with some events seeing him being booed by fans in attendance at least as much as he was cheered.
Speaking on his Grilling JR podcast, the legendary commentator said that by not having Cena turn heel, the company missed an opportunity. Ross also explained WWE Chairman Vince McMahon’s reasoning behind the decision not to, which included Cena’s prolific Make-a-Wish history.
“Probably, but Vince had the same strong babyface feelings for John Cena that he did for Hulk Hogan. The superhero, the epitome of a babyface and what he was supposed to be and how he was supposed to represent. Cena did that well beyond just the lens of the camera. He’s granted more Make-a-Wish requests than anybody ever in history. A lot of stars and ballplayers do those, and so you try to make their life as comfortable as happy and provide these wishes. If they wanted to meet John Cena, more often than not, they got to meet John Cena if it worked out that way.”
The WWE Hall of Famer went on to say that, despite never being a full-blown heel, some feuds, such as his WrestleMania rivalry with The Rock, did give Cena a chance to show more “negative reactions” than usual.
“[Vince] loved Cena’s gameplan and how he represented the company and all that. But certainly, if you have a personal issue, and let’s say it was Cena and Rock and it was personal between the two of them, then all of a sudden it’s a little different presentation than Cena turning full-blown heel and being an adversary of every babyface that he encounters. He can only have negative reactions and physicality and so forth with this person he has this issue with. It’s a different turn. It’s a different presentation than a normal babyface turning to a heel.”
JR also said that Cena got “overexposed” as a babyface and could have had a “nice heel run” given the right situation.
“He got overexposed. He was kind of force-fed. That’s not John’s fault. He was running the plays that were called. With a top babyface and a personal issue that’s plausible and believable that’s created for the two to interact, he would’ve had a nice heel run. No doubt about that. But I think part of the issue, he didn’t heel, run, cower, lie, cheat, steal – he was just overexposed I thought. That was the thing.”
John Cena recently returned to WWE to face one of the company’s current top stars, Roman Reigns, at SummerSlam for the Universal Championship. Cena was defeated at the event, and when the show went off the air was also given an F5 by a returning Brock Lesnar for his efforts.
Jim Ross is now part of the commentary team for AEW Dynamite and also has a role as Senior Advisor in the company.
H/T to 411mania.com for the above quotes