To say that 15-time WWE World Champion John Cena is one of the most polarizing individuals in the history of sports-entertainment is one of the overused statements in all of wrestling today. But it's true. John Cena is one of the most polarizing Superstars in WWE history. A large part of John Cena's career, and overall legacy for that matter, is the fact that Cena has a love-hate relationship with the WWE Universe. What separates John Cena from other top WWE Superstars such as Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, or The Rock is the fact that while those stars of yesteryear largely enjoyed tremendously positive crowd reactions during the peak of their careers as the top babyfaces (good guys) in WWE, John Cena has been a hot topic of debate and has often endured harsh criticism from the wrestling fanbase. To put it plainly: half of the fans like John Cena and half of the fans detest John Cena.
What nobody can deny though is that whether Cena is being cheered, being booed, or if there is seemingly a 50/50 mixture of both, John Cena ALWAYS gets a reaction from the audience, and a passionate one at that. Whether the WWE fans spend their money to support Cena or if they hope to see Cena lose, nobody can deny that John Cena has cemented his legacy as one of the biggest box office draws in the history of WWE and professional wrestling as a whole.
WWE officials are in search of a new top babyface star who can eventually take over for the 37-year-old John Cena. It's no secret that since the very beginning of the faction known as The Shield, WWE officials were keeping a close eye on the muscle of The Shield, "The Powerhouse" Roman Reigns.
Since The Shield broke up in June of 2014, Seth Rollins has become one of the top heels, or quite possibly the top heel, in all of WWE at the moment. "The Lunatic Fringe" Dean Ambrose has gotten over well with the WWE Universe as an unpredictable, loose canon and is undoubtedly one of the most popular Superstars on the roster at the moment. However, the later half of 2014 proved to be rather uneventful for Roman Reigns as he was forced to take time off due to injury.
Roman's return to action has been lukewarm at best. He is still seemingly being pushed to be as much of a powerhouse as he ever was, but since breaking away from his former Shield brethren, many have questioned if Roman Reigns could be being pushed a bit prematurely.
An obvious problem for Roman at this stage is his promo skills... or lack thereof. There have been reports that Roman has worked with an acting coach in order to become a better overall performer and to deliver his lines better. But there have also been reports that certain people backstage in WWE, rumored to include Vince McMahon himself, could be at fault for Roman's less-than-spectacular lines on the microphone. Whether or not Reigns will get better on the microphone remains to be seen, but history proves that most successful WWE Superstars have to have some degree of charisma and personality.
Another issue that Reigns faces is his ability, or lack thereof, to perform at a high level in one-on-one matches. Reigns often looked fantastic as one-third of The Shield, but now he's on his own. Some fans have noted that while Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose both seem to be adjusting comfortably to their respective singles careers, Roman Reigns does seem to be struggling to find his chemistry in the ring.
But in fairness to Roman Reigns, it could be that his injury in 2014 came at the worst possible time for him and it may have taken him off his game. Or it could also be that Roman Reigns was not quite ready for a singles push when WWE decided to split up The Shield. Whatever the case may be, many fans would agree that Reigns seems to be falling behind Ambrose and Rollins at the moment.
Getting back to John Cena, all signs (and reports) have indicated that WWE officials are hoping to eventually have Roman Reigns take over John Cena's spot as the true face of WWE. Reigns may in fact have the ability to do this someday, but one has to wonder if 2015 should really be the year that WWE aims to shoot for the stars with Reigns.
As was previously mentioned, a large part of John Cena's legacy is the fact that everywhere WWE goes, Cena seems to get a mixed reaction. While this has become commonplace with Cena, one would think that it would be best for WWE to try to make sure that the "next" John Cena does not face a similar situation. The way things stand right now, the WWE fans don't seem quite ready to embrace Roman Reigns as the next face of the company. If WWE tries too hard to push Reigns before he's ready for it, this very well could lead to a backlash from the WWE audience.
There have been a lot of instances over the years where WWE has tried to push a Superstar and the fans just didn't respond as WWE would have liked. This could very easily turn out to be the case with Roman Reigns if WWE isn't careful about how they use him.
What if WWE books Roman Reigns to be the top babyface and the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion coming out of WrestleMania 31 this year and the fans are booing him out of the building? This would be a disaster for WWE if they ever hope to have Reigns become the top babyface in the company at some point.
It might be best for WWE not to try to push Reigns to the moon at this point. Reigns himself doesn't seem to be quite ready for it yet, and the WWE Universe doesn't seem ready to accept it yet. Plus, there's the Daniel Bryan factor. Most of the WWE fans just can't help but love Bryan and would very much like to see him get back to where he was at after last year's WrestleMania: on top of the world. And Reigns doesn't just face competition from Bryan, but also his former Shield stablemate Dean Ambrose. Some fans would argue that Dean Ambrose would be a better choice as the top babyface at the moment instead of Roman Reigns.
One way that WWE could better utilize Roman might be to turn him back into a heel at some point in 2015. WWE tried to make Randy Orton their top babyface star on Raw back in 2004 by having him break away from Evolution but Orton's babyface run just didn't work and he went back to being a heel from 2005 until 2010. By the time Orton started to slowly turn into a full-fledged babyface in 2010, he was already getting better crowd reactions than most of the other top babyfaces, including John Cena. This could also turn out to be the case with Roman Reigns. If the WWE Universe and Reigns himself aren't ready for him to try to become the top babyface, maybe it would be best to turn him heel again for a while and let him fully adjust to being on his own. Push him as a monster heel for a few years and then slowly tease the big babyface turn.
Although John Cena is a huge draw for WWE, it seems hard to imagine why WWE would want to have another John Cena situation on their hands where half the fans are booing the top babyface out of the building. If Roman Reigns isn't ready at this time then he very well could end up being the "next" John Cena, but not in a good way. Why not try to get as much as you possibly can out of guys like Daniel Bryan and Dean Ambrose while they're still as popular as they are? Why not let Bryan and Ambrose stand out as the two top babyfaces for a while until Reigns is as ready as he possibly can be?
Roman Reigns is still a fairly young man. He's only 29 years old. He could still have an unbelievably bright future ahead of him. In a few years, he very well could turn out to be one of the most popular babyface Superstars that WWE has ever had. But if it's not his time then it's not his time. Why risk having the fans completely turn on him and possibly ruin his chances of ever getting good babyface reactions from the crowd for the next 10 or 15 years of his career? Why not save him for the right time and then let him emerge as a huge draw who can carry the company for the next decade?