Invariably, every top pro wrestling superstar will turn heel at some point.
Hulk Hogan did it to great effect in 1996 with the NWO. Stone Cold Steve Austin did it to less greatness in 2001 with the Invasion storyline and The Rock did it in 2003 with Hollywood Rock.
John Cena though? He never did it.
He started his career off as a rapping heel on SmackDown in the early 2000s, but after that gimmick really got over and he became a babyface, he stayed that way for the remainder of his career much to the chagrin of the WWE fans.
The fans booed Cena to death for years and Vince McMahon refused to change direction. Maybe speculated that Cena’s commitment to the Make-A-Wish foundation and role as face of the company played a role in that.
Cena did say he was meant to turn during his feud with The Rock around 2011-2012, but ultimately those plans were shelved.
Legendary announcer Jim Ross, who works for AEW these days but spent decades in WWE, has given his take on why he believes Cena was never turned on his podcast Grilling JR.
“The thing that’s always been funny to me is that Cena never turned heel. There’s where my brain fart starts. Why didn’t we do that? Why was that not done?
“I’ve heard John didn’t want to be a heel, I don’t really believe that one. I just think that Vince felt like he was such a pristine baby face but if you listen to the audience, there was a long time there where he wasn’t a pristine baby face.”
“It was timely. The audience more often than not will tell you what they want to buy, they will tell you what aisle to go down with your shopping cart and tell you what is in your cart to take home, you just listen, listen to their reactions.
“I was always amazed that Cena got booed so much. Cena getting booed was a lot like Roman Reigns getting booed whenever he was just getting rolling, and now there’s a reason to boo Roman Reigns because thanks to Paul Heyman he’s become a significant antihero.
“He’s a heel, and he’s a damn good one. The Cena thing, I never quite understood why we didn’t pull the trigger on that deal.”
Cena is not quite done wrestling, but he certainly is full-time. He now has a blossoming career in Hollywood.