I titled this the way I did for an important reason, which will become evident as we go along. When I wrote the previous column, I didn't really expect to do a follow-up to an old column concerning the possibility of John Cena debuting with TNA. The current climate and the course of WWE has shifted that opinion a bit, making the topic well worth my while. I get the sneaking suspicion that my thoughts here COULD bring some controversy, but I will state my full opinion nonetheless and see where it all goes.
If John Cena gets fired from WWE, you can just bet TNA will be all over his contract. Make no mistake about that. Why wouldn't they? They'd almost be stupid not to, considering his proven ability to draw money. The questions begin to mount with that decision, though.
Will Cena have a curb on the Main Event like he has in WWE?
How will WWE recover such a loss?
How would Cena debut? Heel or Face?
Would his gimmick change back a decade to the Thuganomics era?
How could TNA capitalize on such an acquisition?
All are legitimate questions and worth covering at some length, so bear with me, all will be answered in due time. To begin, let me emphasize one thing, John Cena needs a break from the main event. So to answer the first question, NO. TNA is doing a great job of promoting such a good top crop of main eventers and they do NOT need another one at the moment. That said, John Cena may welcome the break from carrying the weight of a dying company on his back for so long.
I'm sure the last comment hit a nerve, but the truth is, WWE has been struggling to find some way to breathe new life into a FACE John Cena for a long time, teasing a turn without ever pulling the trigger on it, but instead re-establishing that he'll never turn, not in a PG environment. TNA would pull the trigger. Mark my words, they would freshen his character, reinventing something that worked a while ago. Don't get me wrong, he will no longer be allowed to wear the jean shorts. The Doctor wouldn't be welcome because of WWE's strict requirements of their talents to the trademark laws governing likeness and conduct. But they COULD allow black or camo shorts. Hey....it worked for the Dudleys in 2004. When WWE told them they couldn't wear camo shorts, they wore jeans and black Dockers and a "Trademark This" t-shirt. Since that time, the trademark has run its course and now Bully Ray is able to wear what he wants. I could see Cena going to black cargo shorts or even camo. It'd be a bit of a throwback to his Thug character, but he would have to distinguish himself as different in TNA to avoid any legal backlash.
SO....Cena begins in the upper mid-card. That's my position. Is he capable of more? Absolutely. He wouldn't be stuck there at all, I see him main eventing in no time, but not ALL THE TIME. Cena has worn out his welcome in his current schtick and that includes the main event. While leaving the jean shorts behind would be no problem, changing his moveset might be...for him. When WWE altered his moveset from his time in OVW, some of the pieces that made him interesting were left at the check in desk once his Thuganomics character took off. Variety in his matches began to evaporate and Vince increasingly restricted his movements in ring....hence his "five moves of doom" stereotype.
TNA would take off the governor from WWE's cash cow and let him breathe a bit. I see TNA working Cena in as a heel upon his debut and so long as he's having a good time doing it and he's having success, I don't see it changing for a while, at least until people begin to allow the face decade to move into the realm of the background. Not many people remember, but Cena was a top heel on the Smackdown brand for nearly a year before cheers made WWE take notice and turn him into what we see now.
So would WWE recover the loss? Without a doubt....unless Vince is as inept as many believe him to be. From my perspective, Vince is trying to determine if he wants to turn over the reins fully right now and a loss like Cena from the roster would sway him to hold on a bit longer, just until a new face of the company presents itself. I believe that the loss of John Cena would be such a bombshell that people would tune into WWE just to see how Vince handles it, at least in the short term. This gives WWE a chance to rebuttal, which is a short term window, and WWE would HAVE to find something to offset the loss. Critics and fans would not be kind to the plight of the machine forever and that kind of pressure is what made the Attitude Era work. With the loss of a few top stars, WWF had to find something new a different. Enter The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin. I see this as nothing different from that time.
This may come as a shock to you all, but John Cena isn't a game changer.....at least not to me. His loss means that WWE could put an end to the PG Era, which is something that critics like myself have held against them since they enforced it 2 years ago. That move could create something WWE never even planned for.....opportunity for someone new to take up the slack and walk.