John Cena embodies the gold standard of the good guy in WWE programming. While a younger version of Cena did portray a villain as the Doctor of Thuganomics, his heel side has never really flourished. Cena is synonymous with hope among fans, so it’s only natural for him to keep being a babyface.
The WWE legend held 13 championships and three World Heavyweight titles during his run from 2005 to 2017. While he has consistently been some of the most beloved babyfaces of all time, the WWE creative team still tried to find an angle to villainify Cena. There was even merch made for Cena before his potential heel turn.
Brian Gewirtz was the head writer for WWE Raw and recently appeared on the “Cheap Heat” podcast. Gewirtz recalled that the team worked on turning John Cena into a heel. He revealed that there were many attempts at turning Cena heel. While Vince McMahon wanted to try it, he ended up not taking a chance on the star’s already huge fandom.
Yes. For sure. There was a time we all did … We did push plenty of times for John to turn heel, and there was a lot of reasoning going into it. [Vince McMahon] was tempted … but ultimately, there was like the merch [sales] and everything John does.
John Cena himself was on board with the idea of going heel. He told the creative team that he would turn heel on Vince McMahon’s say-so. However, he would want to go “full boar heel.”
Alright, listen, you want to turn me heel? If that’s what Vince says you guys want me to do, I’ll do it. But just so know, I will go full boar heel. He was like, ‘There won’t be none of that like, 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, that’s what he wants to do, which would have been awesome.
Gewirtz said that Vince McMahon eventually backtracked on the idea. His reasoning was that the logistics of finding another star to be the lead babyface, Cena’s potential opponent as well as the merchandising that Cena does, it’ll be too hard. Gewirtz did appreciate WWE choosing to let Roman Reigns have a heel run. John Cena would have been fabulous as a heel, though that’s something we’d have to settle for seeing on the big screen only.
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