Cena sucks. Those are the two words claimed to take a toll on John Cena by eating away at him day in and day out. Wherever Cena goes there are always at least a few who boo him. This past Monday on Raw, Kane cut a promo on Cena, who stood atop the Raw stage, no microphone in hand. The Big Red Machine’s words on that night struck a chord somewhere in Cena. Over the last few weeks a fire has started between Kane and Cena that evolves with each passing week. Instead of a simple wrestling feud started by Wrestler A attacking Wrestler B, thus leading to a match at Insert Wrestling Event, the Cena-Kane program has developed a depth that will carry John Cena to his match with The Rock at WrestleMania.
Kane started this war with John Cena just a few days before the TLC pay per view. He returned to WWE programming after a multi-month hiatus by marching down to the ring during the night’s main event pitting Cena against then-World Champion Mark Henry. Being that Henry had put Kane on the shelf during the summer, the expectation was that Kane was seeking vengeance for being put in the Hall of Pain. That would not be the case. Kane, once again donning his mask he had not worn since 2003, marched to the ring with a purpose. Henry abandoned ship as the Big Red Machine entered, but he was not the target. Kane shocked the audience by going after Cena instead. Cena and Kane came face to face the following week when the monster attacked John yet again, but much more viciously, leaving Cena with a bloody mouth. This past week, Cena was set on getting his hands on Kane, but was stopped by a wall of fire preventing him from going any further. Kane then proceeded to tell Cena to embrace his inner hate. The audience warred against itself with dueling chants of “Let’s go Cena” and “Cena sucks.” Kane wants Cena to acknowledge that the hate spewed at him by a certain segment of the crowd eats away at him, tormenting him to no end.
Kane seemed to reference an exchange between John Cena and Roddy Piper several weeks back during a Piper’s Pit segment. On that night Piper told Cena he had to deal with the crowd and their mixed reactions to him. If Cena is to go to WrestleMania and face The Rock in the biggest match of his career, he needs to be at his best, and if Cena cannot handle his perception by the crowd then he will not be in control. Piper was trying to light a fire under Cena, thinking it would help him. Cena didn’t see it that way. He has dealt with the crowd’s dualistic personality for years. When Kane tore into Cena, he wasn’t so much trying to a fire under Cena, but luring him to play with it.
It’s amazing that WWE has gone this long without ever doing a program between Kane and Cena. It is one of the last fresh matches for Cena among his fellow veterans. The mask makes this all the more intriguing. Kane’s character is a tortured soul who embraces pain, because pain is all that he has. By embracing it he is able to gain a measure of control. He now is a demon, a devil on Cena’s shoulder, whispering in his ear.
This all serves to build the match between Cena and Rock. After Survivor Series, Cena was left without a primary opponent. He needed to cool before the storm with Rock. Kane is a monster standing before him, the troll on the bridge between Cena and WrestleMania. The two will spend the next few weeks in a very intense rivalry, yet this is not about Cena and Kane. In this case, Cena is not fighting Kane, he’s fighting himself. Kane will continue to attack Cena and antagonize him. The only way for Cena to triumph over the Big Red Machine is to embrace the hate and resort to the lowest of deeds to vanquish the demon. But in doing so, Kane wins by making Cena as miserable as he is.
So where does this lead? Will Cena turn heel during this feud and go into WrestleMania as a villain? Cena will need to look strong going into his match at Mania with The Rock. The direction this could go would change Cena’s character indefinitely. Cena is the top baby face in the company. A heel turn is not coming. Worst case, it would be a temporary one, much like Shawn Michaels during his program with Hulk Hogan in the summer of 2005. A heel turn would barely scratch the surface of where this can go. Cena can go into this war with Kane and come out triumphant with his integrity intact, but forever scarred. The thing about scars is that we carry them with us as reminders, and they make us stronger if we can move on. Coming off an intense feud with one of the longest-running WWE stars currently on the roster is the best primer for Cena going into WrestleMania.
Where it all ends between Cena and Kane is not certain. They may end this on an episode of Raw, or have it fought at either the Royal Rumble or Elimination Chamber. It cannot go any longer since the hype for Cena-Rock will rev up very shortly. In the meantime, Cena will spend his days warring with Kane, yet it is not a standard one-on-one match going on here. Kane is merely the embodiment of who John Cena is really fighting a battle against – himself, and just as Cena fights his own demons, the crowd also continues its own inner-conflict in how it feels about wrestling’s top star.