Why John Cena’s WWE Heel Turn Was Really Scrapped

John Cena WWE

John Cena may have been booed heavily by some fans during his WWE run and now he’s revealed just how close he and the company got to embracing that as a heel.

John Cena’s WWE career saw him rise from a plucky underdog to a cocky, rap star that got the WWE fans firmly against him. However, as any wrestling fan knows, the more the crowd hates you, the more they’re going to love you, and when Cena became the unlikely fifth man on Kurt Angle’s team at the 2003 Survivor Series his babyface turn was complete and he never turned heel in the company again.

Despite John Cena’s rise to the top for the next decade in WWE and his adherence to his belief in ‘hustle, loyalty, and respect’ some fans came to loathe the star. Cena’s mixed reactions became the stuff of legend but rather than accept it and give fans a heel Cena, the company presented him the same way leaving the audience to decide if they were with or against the star.

But it was all so close to being very different.

John Cena Reveals WWE Heel Turn Plans Were In Place

Speaking to Chris Van Vliet, John Cena revealed that after his first WrestleMania match with The Rock saw The Rock defeat Cena, he was going to turn heel in a major way and had made all the necessary plans to present a completely new version of himself:

It was Cena Rock 1. I got word that they were going to do it. I went out and recorded a new song. I went out and got all new gear. I wasn’t prepared for ruthless aggression, that was the last time I wasn’t prepared. I mean, I heard rumblings of we’re going to do it. And in 48 hours, I had a new track, a new studio mix theme song, final mix. I had seven new singlets, low-cut singlets with boxing-type robes. I already had the boots in storage, so I dusted them off. I was ready to go and already thinking about like what I could do with the story.

Okay, what is a heel? A heel is not just new gear. The objectivity or the message behind the singlet and the boxing robes and the boots is the exact opposite of what you saw with the street gear, the jeans shorts, the t-shirt, the ball cap, the sneakers, no, go the opposite route. And now lean into the opposite of everything you stand for.

So I would begin to not work as hard. I would show up less, I would be untrustworthy and unloyal. I would lack respect in what I did. Like all you have to do is turn that on its [head]. I would give up a lot. All those things you can take and make interesting stories. And this is the stuff that’s running through my head, not what moves can I do. It’s like how can I take the intellectual property that people are familiar with and twist it so it’s like this guy’s f*cking insane?

However, one conversation put an end to the whole idea with John Cena looking to commit in a major way that would have affected WWE’s bottom line and his own dedication to charity:

It’s everything I’ve come to love and now I genuinely hate it. And in being a real bad guy, and I think that was the conversation that was eventually had where it’s like, okay, it’s a bad idea.

I’m like, hey, I know this is going to sting but I’m not going to sell another T-shirt. I’m going to take all merchandise off the market. I’m not going to put on anything new. I’m not going to do any more appearances. I’m not going to do any Make-A-Wish. I’m not going to do anything like that. I’m going to be a bad guy to make your good guy so your good guy does all that. And that’s what I was like, we’re kind of in too deep. So it worked out the way it worked out. But bro, I was ready.

Ultimately, given his tenure and legacy in WWE, John Cena now receives the universal acclaim of WWE fans when he appears at shows. John Cena’s last outing in a WWE ring saw him decimated by Solo Sikoa at Crown Jewel in 2023.