Thursday, July 4, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Should Cena be threatened by Orton? (9/29/10) - [a case of the summer]

In the second edition of Throwback Thursday, we take a look back at my blog post from September 29, 2010 (a day after my birthday!), where I discussed the rising popularity of Randy Orton and whether John Cena -- WWE's alpha dog -- should be threatened about losing his top spot.  Here's the original post:

I will reproduce the story below, with my current comments in bold italics, inside parentheses.

Should Cena be threatened by Orton?

Since the build towards this past year’s WrestleMania, Randy Orton has undeniably exploded with popularity, which has left many wondering whether or not posterboy John Cena is still the undisputed “top face.” Some are even proposing that Cena should turn heel (and now, you have people making this plea every week). Not only do I think a heel turn is extreme, but I actually don’t think Cena even has to worry about losing his coveted “top spot.” (I, of course, ended up being right about this.  Strangely, though, it wasn't even Orton that ended up being the biggest threat -- it would be CM Punk a year or so later)

The fact of the matter is, there’s a reason why John Cena is at the top. His merchandising sales are a huge reason, but that’s not it (although I do think people underestimate how over this guy actually is – and not just with the little kiddies). The truth is that he’s extremely reliable and “safe.” He’s a public company’s dream employ…..independent contractor (comedy!). Aside from injuries to his pec and neck, each of which took him out for a few months, he hasn’t shown to be susceptible to injury (he has, of course, suffered a couple more injuries since then.  But none of these injuries kept him off the shelf for any significant amount of time). This is actually what sets him apart from virtually every other main event talent (aside from Chris Jericho). Superstars like Triple H, Edge, Randy Orton, The Undertaker, Batista, and even Rey Mysterio seem to have to take extended breaks due to injury every year or so (funny that I say "even Rey Mysterio" back then.  Now, he's almost ALWAYS on an extended break due to injury). But Cena, for the most part, has remained injury free. While Orton has been lucky the past couple of years, he has nagging shoulder problems that may make the company weary of hitching their horse to his wagon (as best as I can remember, he's continued to remain injury free since the original posting of this article).

While these standards might not be fair, Cena’s promotional work outside of the ring is incomparable. He’s constantly making signing appearances or attending charitable functions. He’s also represented the company on a number of non-wrestling television shows, such as various Kids and Teen Choice Awards, and Late Night programs (and since then, the poster boy for breast cancer awareness and Fruity Pebbles).

And this may be a personal bias, but I find John Cena far better on the mic and more interesting in the ring. As far as mic skills go, I find Orton boring and by-the-numbers, with little emotion or personality (still feel this way). And I don’t find him particularly sympathetic, which make the “face in peril” segment of his matches (which tends to be the most significant part) difficult to get into (also why Triple H, in my view, is an unsuccessful face) (for what it's worth, I feel like Orton has improved SIGNIFICANTLY in this regard). Sure, the reaction tends to be split, but the audience is ALWAYS lively during a John Cena match. I have witnessed quiet crowds while Orton is in the ring with the wrong opponent. And while many online fans are tired of this supposed “Super Cena,” I think there’s something to be said for one of the few genuine good guys (I’m talking character here) overcoming the odds and succeeding.

Perhaps the biggest difference between these two – and the strongest reason why Cena should feel secure in his spot – is their public image. Again, while Orton has seemingly behaved himself the past few years, he has had severe behavioral issues during his tenure with WWE. He also has at least one Wellness Policy violation against him (I believe he now has two). These issues have resulted in suspensions from the company and even trouble with the law. John Cena, meanwhile, was able to represent the company – quite eloquently and respectfully, I might add – during their greatest PR nightmare, when WWE contracted Superstar Chris Benoit murdered his wife and seven year old son before taking his own life. Cena came across as intelligent, level headed, and sensible – an image they desperately needed to portray given the circumstances. I honestly do not believe they would feel comfortable putting Randy Orton in that sort of position. Between their PG image, their business relationship with family-friendly Mattel, and Linda’s possible Senate seat election, I think the company feels much, much safer branding themselves with John Cena’s likeness (while Orton seems to have grown up a great deal over the past couple of years -- and has continued to stay out of trouble -- I do think the sentiment of this point still rings true.  Do I think Orton is going to trash hotels?  No.  Is he going to defecate in people's bags?  I certainly hope not.  But I still don't know if he's able to come across as positively as Cena typically does during difficult public relation situations).

Quite simply, John Cena is a safe, reliable, money making machine. And until that’s no longer true, he’ll ALWAYS be the #1 face in the company. Like him or not, from a business perspective, he’s a smart decision (who would have guessed that a couple years later, Orton would become a non-entity?  He now stands firmly behind CM Punk, and likely behind Sheamus and Daniel Bryan, and quite possibly behind Alberto Del Rio.  While I didn't see him overtaking Cena's place as #1, I definitely didn't see THAT coming).

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