Last Sunday I had the opportunity to attend the Bragging Rights pay per view live at the Target Center in Minneapolis, MN. With the thrill of being at a live show still running through my veins, I put together a write-up for the VIP blog early in the week. During my look back at the show I delved a little into the current situation involving Randy Orton, John Cena, and Wade Barrett. I had many thoughts about the Bragging Rights main event and its implications that I didn’t get to go into as much as I wanted. And now that we are set for an Orton-Barrett rematch at Survivor Series I thought I would go back and take another look.
There have been very few things I have not liked about the Nexus storyline since its inception. It was a great program over the summer and has progressed very nicely over the past several months. However, I now find myself at odds with the program. My problem with the storyline has nothing to do with Nexus itself or John Cena at all, but the involvement of one individual; Randy Orton.
The match at Bragging Rights between Orton and Barrett focused around the involvement of John Cena. The stipulation was that if Cena did not see to it that Barrett won the match, he would be fired. The climax of the battle saw Cena enter the ring while Orton was about to finish off Barrett, teasing that Cena was going to take out Orton, but instead Cena dropped Barrett, which ended the match in a disqualification. So Barrett walks out of the Target Center without the WWE title. One would reason that Cena would then be fired. If that were the case, that means that Cena just sacrificed his career to keep his dignity and save Orton from losing the WWE Title. Seems like quite a sacrifice on Cena’s part. So at the end of the show, Cena and Orton are staring each other down, both realizing what just happened. Cena goes to hand Orton the championship belt but Orton drops Cena with an RKO. It is understandable that there is some tension between the two, but to take Cena down like that? That’s something we would expect from the era of Steve Austin. What should have been a powerful moment of the show was turned into a spot for Orton to hit his finisher. It really made no sense.
The next night on Raw we were told that Orton and Barrett would be having another match at Survivor Series but that this time Cena would be the special guest referee. This time, if Barrett wins, Cena is freed from Nexus, but if Orton wins, Cena is fired. Seems like quite a moral dilemma. Cena has the opportunity to free himself from the reigns of Barrett and company, but at what cost? If he does that he will have cost Orton the WWE Title.
Here is the trouble with the angle. As good of a wrestler is Randy Orton is, he is simply not a sympathetic baby face. Whether that is his fault or just the design of the character is up for debate. But if there is no sympathetic baby face at the other end of this, just how troubling is Cena’s predicament? Cena did a great job on Monday night of selling the idea that he could be free of Nexus. His character is the driving force in the Orton-Barrett feud. You have Cena caught in the middle of this situation where he either does right by himself or makes a deal with the devil. But on the other end of Barrett is Orton, someone who really matters little in this whole Nexus program. Without a sympathetic baby face to pull on the heart strings of the audience, there is little reason that Cena has to help only himself in this whole situation.
Yes he is on Smackdown, but just think how more effective this whole scenario would be if Rey Mysterio were the WWE Champion right now. Now there is a guy that would make Cena’s dilemma all the more intriguing. How crushing would it be if Mysterio ended up losing the title for Cena to gain his freedom from Nexus? Better yet, if Barrett lost the match, Cena would be able to do the “fired” angle with his head held high because he would have done it for the right man. Instead we are left with Orton, a shady character whose “flawed hero” character just does not fit in this specific situation.
I use Mysterio as one example but he would be perfect. Perhaps therein lies the real issue; Raw does not have a big enough baby face to carry this storyline. That’s fine. WWE does not need to bring over another baby face from Smackdown. What they need to do is pull the sympathy out of Orton. They have a few weeks until Survivor Series. What we need to see in the meantime is a series of interaction between Cena and Orton that build upon their respect for each other. They don’t need to become best buddies. Given the history between Cena and Orton that would be flat out contradictory. They don’t need to trust each other. After all, the lack of trust makes the angle more compelling. But there needs to be something. Just what that is I do not know at this point. I hope for the benefit of the angel that WWE does. If they can make Orton sympathetic and build the respect between him and Cena, ending the Survivor Series show with a sacrifice on Cena’s part would be much different this time around.
Maybe you think I am taking this all too seriously. Perhaps I am. Perhaps Orton is the right guy for this, or maybe it really doesn’t matter who the baby face champion is in this situation. I understand why some would feel that way. I guess I keep coming back to this whole idea of Cena being caught in the middle. If he really is, his character is the arc between the devil and the angel. However, instead of having an angel on one side, we have a less evil demon.
Thanks for reading this week.