WWE superstar John Cena, returns to the ring on Sunday for the 2017 Royal Rumble. Of course, Cena is not competing in the battle royal himself, instead Cena gets the opportunity to win his 16th world championship. Many were surprised when it was announced that Cena would face off against 2016 sensation AJ Styles, in a world championship bout. After all, Cena rarely enters the ring these days, his film and TV work keeps him busy elsewhere. Nonetheless, AJ Styles vs. John Cena is a mouthwatering prospect for WWE wrestling fans.
As previously reported in the Inquisitr, Cena has been WWE’s favorite “face” for many years, and the prospect of a Cena heel turn was unthinkable. With Cena now being a part-time wrestler the prospect of him turning heel may just make sound business sense. On Tuesday nights SmackDown Live, AJ Styles called out Cena, and demanded more respect from the WWE network. Styles, quite correctly, stated that he had been “holding down” SmackDown Live in Cena’s absence. Styles went on to claim that Cena knows that Styles is “the better man,” and demanded to know if he will get the respect he deserves after beating Cena at the 2017 Royal Rumble.
Cena hit back at Styles in a fashion that Fox Sports says was “straight out of 2005.” Cena trashed Styles, saying that “there’s only one John Cena, and I’m still a bad, bad man. Recognize.” Cena’s promotional performance was described as, turning the clock back to the time when he was the self-styled “Doctor of Thuganomics,” a persona that helped to turn Cena into a WWE superstar.
Cena pointed out that where Styles had held down SmackDown Live for six months he had done so for over a decade. The leader of the Cenation also pointed out that, every time he enters the ring 10,000 people tell him that “he sucks, and that he shouldn’t be there.” It was classic WWE network theater and it sets up their Royal Rumble bout beautifully. Cena’s performance also strengthened rumors that a heel turn is on the cards.
So, Is The WWE Network Set For A John Cena Set For A Heel Turn?
In many ways, John Cena has been the face of the WWE network for over a decade. Cena has multiple successes under his belt and a win over Styles at the 2017 Royal Rumble would see him tie Ric Flair’s record of 16 World Championship wins. It was being widely rumored that Cena would gain revenge over Styles, for the defeats he suffered at the champions hands last summer.
Many believed that a Cena victory would set him up for a match against The Undertaker at WrestleMania in April. Suddenly that picture does not look so clear. WWE network boss, Vince McMahon recently claimed that Cena Vs. The Undertaker would not happen in 2017. If McMahon was “shooting straight” this would seem to rule out The Undertaker winning the 2017 Royal Rumble.
Cena has a string of defeats to Styles on his record, and a defeat at the Royal Rumble would set the scene for a Cena heel turn. Forbes argues that a Cena heel turn would be great business for the WWE network. With Cena’s other business and entertainment commitments, he clearly has fewer opportunities to appear in WWE wrestling bouts. Operating on a virtually part-time basis arguably makes it difficult for Cena to maintain his position as the WWE’s leading face.
Forbes also points out that AJ Styles tops the bill when it comes to merchandise sales. It seems that WWE fans love to love the bad guy. WWE star Roman Reigns is becoming increasingly popular as the WWE network’s top baby face, so that may make it easier for Cena to take a heel turn. If Cena were only to make an occasional appearance on the WWE network, a role as a bitter and slighted underdog would make for great entertainment. Cena, at 39-years-old, has potentially another decade as a WWE star to look forward to. Less frequent appearances would increase his longevity and free him to pursue his TV and film career.
It is likely that the prospects for a Cena heel turn will be clearer after the 2017 Royal Rumble.
[Featured Image by John Palmer/MediaPunch/IPX/AP Images]