Turning the top guy in the company is a extremely complicated thing to do. Let’s learn from history:
Perhaps the most famous heel turn of all time is Hulk Hogan’s at Bash at the Beach 1996. The cheesy vitamin and milk endorsing good guy joined the dark side by backstabbing another longtime top face Randy Savage (RIP Macho one). Hogan then went to cut the most important promo in WCW’s history. And it wasn’t just a home run, it was a grand slam. It was perfectly in sync the fans who have grown up and may have been sick of seeing him on top for so many years. And it was the perfect changing of the guard moment in wrestling history. A change that ushered in the edgy badass style of the 90’s. Verdict: SUCCESS
Fast forward a generation and we have the infamous heel turn of Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania X-Seven. The hell raising poster boy of the Attitude Era sold his soul to the devil by aligning with longtime enemy Vince Mcmahon. Total disaster. The fans were not ready to boo their favorite. Austin was not consistently shoved down peoples throats for such a extended time like Hogan and Cena. He had taken off a lot time due to injuries and he shared the top spot with the Rock. And a big problem was how to have him be a heel, when his actions always were semi-heelish at best. It was premature, illogical and very forced. For months fans were still cheering him. The WWE even resorted to the: “he’s a heel, we need to get him some cheap heat him by having him beat up J.R. “. Also, this heel turn spurned what is Austin’s worst contribution to the wrestling industry: the annoying and overused “what” chants. Verdict: FAILURE.
Now let’s get to the present from learning from the past. Cena has been playing the boy scout gimmick at the top of the mountain for way too long. Fans in certain markets have been booing him for years. Even some of his die-hard fans are admitting that a Cena heel turn is most logical now, with his match against the Rock coming up.
And after years of WWE ignoring the IWC, things look like they finally may be changing. “Cena Sucks” shirts are being sold at live events and Kane has been playing a Heath Ledger-Joker like gimmick of the instigator. It seems like we are on the cusp of Cena beating the holy hell out of Zach Ryder and turning his back on his fans. And I can’t wait. I don’t think there has been ever a time in wrestling history where fans where begging to boo someone so badly.
With power of the internet, the shock value of the old days is gone. Its not rating war anymore. The WWE is booking this nice, slow, and calculated. The appropriate booking for our generation.
If the heel turn does go through (even if only temporarily), we are truly witnessing something great. And this years WrestleMania main event will be one of those once in a lifetime matches.