John Cena Isn’t the Champion We Deserve, but He’s the Champion We Need

John Cena holds up the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

It’s a dangerous thing to support John Cena these days. Just look at Vince McMahon. People threaten his business, his family, even his life, simply because he sticks a gold strap on a faux-marine’s shoulder for a little extra cash. And Cole’s infamous “mixed-reaction” phrase? It’s just WWE’s polite way of addressing fan discontent without implying that the company is actually going to do something about it. Like saying, “we know people don’t like him, but F-U.” A five-moves-of-doom political comeback.

So what I’m about to say might not settle well with 99.5 percent of adult male wrestling fans who echo everything I said above. Feel free to tweet your hate away. But – just like Cena in a last-man-standing match – I’m not going to let anything keep me down.

There’s been extensive coverage on whether or not the WWE Network has been a bust, and how business is hurting (mostly) because investors are unhappy. Creative discontent is nothing new to the house that Hogan built, but finances haven’t been an issue since before the Attitude Era. No, the company won’t be sinking away anytime soon. But, it is crisis-time for a place that’s been willing to coast for over a decade.

Daniel Bryan was to be the dawning of a new era. He was poster-boy for the post-PG, CM Punk-less, “the crimson curtain still exists!” internet generation. That’s why he headlined the biggest event in wrestling history and beat pretty much everybody that was anybody. So when injuries happened – at the same time Vince McMahon found his fortitude held to the flame by investors – how could Vince McMahon do anything BUT put a championship on his best known quantity.

I can already hear you typing the phrase “creatively stale.” So, then, who would you put the championship on? Cesaro? Roman Reigns? What about Bray Wyatt? Keep in mind that whoever has that championship is likely going into SummerSlam with it, and is likely going to lose. Cesaro versus Brock Lesnar is not your second biggest main event of the year – not yet, anyway – and a loss that quickly after becoming the top guy could cost Cesaro his entire push (just ask Ziggler). John Cena versus Brock Lesnar is a name main event. It draws eyes and buys. Casual fans want to see who wins, while smarks tune-in to see who loses (Cena, they hope).

I’ve heard rumblings of meaningless championships as well. Really? Really!? You do remember that CM Punk held that belt for a record-breaking 434 days. Then, The Rock (a multi-time champion, worldwide celebrity, and the best talker of all time) snagged it for one final run. After that, we had Cena for a few months, Bryan (briefly), followed by a Randy Orton run that lasted from SummerSlam until ‘Mania. Look at those names again and tell me there’s no prestige.

Also remember that WWE is a business which, like any business, has a goal of making money. The phrases “Emmy Nominated” and “Longest Running Weekly Episodic Televison Series” mean two very different things. So as the hype for WWE 2K15 picks up (a solid moneymaker every year), it makes sense to have your poster boy front-and-center.

This doesn’t pardon all of WWE’s sins. It doesn’t excuse vomiting segments, Hornswaggle segments, or anything involving 3MB 1MB.

But from a practicality standpoint, John Cena is in the right place at the right time. He’s not a “forever” champion. He’s a champion who gets a quick pop from the kids and thus merchandise, who gets hyped by a record-breaking title-run, and who drops the belt to Lesnar on a huge stage.

To quote a recent PPV theme song: “Money money money, money.”

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