In a backstage segment on WWE Raw on Monday night, John Cena said something fairly interesting, something that might simultaneously excite and infuriate fans.
Cena acknowledged that the fans were calling for change, and that the company would be changing with the WWE Network. He talked about the fans chanting for Daniel Bryan and some of the other young wrestlers.
He then said that the future of the WWE would be determined by Cena's match with Randy Orton in the main event. Cena said that his feud with Orton would finish that night, and whoever wanted to step up would have to go through him.
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Now, it was good that he acknowledged the fans chanting and wanting change.
However, WWE seems to be positioning Cena as a leader in this, that he would help bring about the change. This isn't a tactic that's going to work, as Cena, of course, is one of the people with whom the disgruntled fans are unhappy. And of course, stating that a Cena-Orton match would determine the future of the WWE had to send certain fans into an apoplexy.
Cena has attached himself to rising stars before, notably Zack Ryder a couple of years ago, and he has been a backer of Bryan as well. While it's not always a bad thing to attach rising stars with the established stars, in this case it doesn't help. It looks like Cena is playing the big brother, as if they need his help, and will only hurt these rising stars in the long run.
Cena did end up beating Orton cleanly in the main event, which would be a fine end to their feud, especially presuming Orton ends up retaining the WWE championship at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view.
The roster is getting strong enough that, if WWE wanted, the two superstars wouldn't have to truly cross paths for a while.
Now, what WWE does with Cena over the next few months will be interesting. While they will be tempted to attach him to Bryan in some way, I think it would be a mistake -- one that will hurt Bryan in the long-run and will not help Cena at all.
It's best, in my opinion, to have the two stay apart, and let Cena go on to work what seems like an inevitable program with Bray Wyatt.
The rest of Raw
-- The build between The Wyatt Family and The Shield continues to be a highlight of WWE programming. They've built this incredibly well, which is rare for a heel-heel feud. The Wyatt Family beat Rey Mysterio and The Rhodes Brothers, while Dean Ambrose lost to a returning Mark Henry by disqualification. It was after the Ambrose-Henry match that the build rose to a crescendo. As the three members of The Shield were starting to leave, The Wyatt Family came out. The two groups matched movements almost perfectly, moving to ringside, then up on the apron. Roman Reigns entered the ring, and Bray Wyatt started to do the same, but then he backed off, bringing his family with him. Also, with The Wyatt Family continuing to have great six-man tag team matches, and knowing what The Shield can do, this match should be a fantastic showdown at Elimination Chamber.
-- Bryan didn't wrestle on the show, though he was involved in two segments. At the beginning of the night, he came out to confront Orton and The Authority and demand a match with Kane. Triple H said that Kane had a leave of absence for his role last week, and that Bryan wouldn't be wrestling that night. Later, when Kane came out to explain his actions, Bryan returned and attacked him. It'll be interesting exactly where they go with Bryan and Kane, as they can't have a match at Elimination Chamber.
-- Betty White was the guest star at Raw. Her role pretty much consisted of saying she was "gonna kick some [expletive]" at the beginning of the show, and doing a sketch with The New Age Outlaws. The Outlaws tried to put a laxative into Betty White's tea, but she switched it with them, leading Billy Gunn to drink it. Then later, with the Outlaws on commentary for a match between The Usos and Ryback and Curtis Axel, Gunn showed the effects. Yes, we're in 2014 and there's a sketch built around one of the Outlaws having trouble holding it in. Unbelievable. What made it worse in my mind is that Gunn's discomfort overshadowed the match, which was pretty decent. The only plus of this segment was that there was some Outlaws/Usos talk for the titles, with the Outlaws declining to give them a title shot.
-- Lita was named as the third inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame for this year's class. A great choice, though she always was overshadowed somewhat by Trish Stratus in that era. There's rumors that Stephanie McMahon has been reaching out to Baltimore's Stacy Keibler, so it wouldn't shock me if Keibler ended up inducting Lita.
-- Alberto Del Rio defeated Dolph Ziggler. After the match, Batista came out and attacked Del Rio, eventually sending him through the announcers' table with a powerbomb. Later, Batista talked with Triple H, who made the Del Rio-Batista match official for the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. They also teased some problems between Batista and Triple H.
-- I'm really enjoying the Black History Month videos from the WWE. Last week, Ernie Ladd was featured, and this week it was Bobo Brazil. I'm glad they're not sticking with the normal featured wrestlers, like Ron Simmons, but reaching back further into their archives.
-- I can't be 100% certain on this one, but I believe that the WWE had the crowd mics turned down this week. The crowd seemed more muted, and not just quiet. There were a few quiet CM Punk chants throughout the night, but overall, it seemed like less than Omaha, Neb., had last week. It'll be interesting to see if the WWE keeps doing this over the next few weeks.
-- Sheamus and Christian teamed to beat The Real Americans in a pretty strong match.
-- Fandango beat Santino Marella. During the match, The Miz came out and complained about not wrestling again. So this seems like it will be some sort of disgruntled wrestler gimmick, and not just a one time rib last week.
-- Cameron pinned Aksana in a six-divas tag team match.