For many years fans have wondered what a heel John Cena would have been like in WWE, and now the reason Vince McMahon refused to turn him has been explained.
John Cena burst onto the WWE scene in 2002 in an explosion of ruthless aggression as he answered Kurt Angle’s open challenge. The early days of Cena’s career were not all that memorable until he introduced the world to the Dr. of Thuganomics and a star was born.
Although initially a bad guy in this role, the fans soon gravitated to the rapping star, and by the time Cena won his first WWE Championship at WrestleMania 21, he was beloved. But that didn’t last long. Within the year, fans of a certain persuasion had grown tired of John Cena’s character, and the more he won, the louder the boos got.
In years gone by, a wrestling company might have turned their star to the villainous side as a result of the crowd reaction but Cena and Vince McMahon held firm and for the remainder of his career in WWE John Cena was a babyface – or at least was presented as such.
Former WWE Head Writer Brian Gewirtz has commented as to why John Cena was never turned heel while a main event star during an appearance on The Cheap Heat podcast. Gewirtz explained that there was a time when the company was ready to pull the trigger on a heel turn but Vince McMahon could never quite follow through with it:
“There was a time. We did push plenty of times for John to turn heel. There was a lot of reasoning going into it. Vince was tempted. He was very tempted a couple of times, but ultimately, there was the merch and everything John does.”
“John himself said when approached with the idea, he was like, and this is what is so great about John, is he was like, ‘Ok, listen. If you want to turn me heel, if that’s what Vince says you guys want to do, I’ll do it, but just so you know, I will go full boar heel. There won’t be any of that, oh, he’s a fun heel, he’s a cool heel, he’s winking at the audience, heel. He is going to go full heel.’”
“I think Vince was like, John is captain of the ship here. There’s the issue of who he would work with. Who would replace him as the top babyface? The merchandise and everything else John does off-screen. So, ultimately, Vince didn’t want to pull the trigger on that. I think he made the right decision because John has been the standard bearer.”