Although he received jeers from the crowd at stages of his career, the reason Vince McMahon never turned John Cena heel has been revealed.
Making his WWE debut by answering Kurt Angle’s open challenge with some ruthless aggression back in 2002, John Cena really shot to prominence when he became the Dr. of Thuganomics.
Despite his heelish antics at first, he quickly grew on the crowd and was getting cheered for his rapping exploits, with his rise to fame culminating in him winning his first WWE Championship at WrestleMania 21. However, despite not doing anything to directly insult the fans, they gradually grew tired of Cena’s routine and the reactions started to become more and more negative.
Although many wrestling companies would have pulled the trigger on a full-on villain run at that point, Vince McMahon stuck to his guns and continued to present John Cena as a babyface for the remainder of his time inside the squared circle.
Speaking on The Cheap Heat podcast, Former WWE Head Writer Brian Gewirtz has discussed the reason why John Cena was never switched to being portrayed as a villain. He explained how Vince McMahon could never quite make the final call to do it, even when there was a lot in place to make it happen.
There was a time. We did push plenty of times for John to turn heel. There was a lot of reasoning going into it. Vince was tempted. He was very tempted a couple of times, but ultimately, there was the merch and everything John does.
John himself said when approached with the idea, he was like, and this is what is so great about John, is he was like, ‘Ok, listen. If you want to turn me heel, if that’s what Vince says you guys want to do, I’ll do it, but just so you know, I will go full boar heel. There won’t be any of that, oh, he’s a fun heel, he’s a cool heel, he’s winking at the audience, heel. He is going to go full heel.’
I think Vince was like, John is captain of the ship here. There’s the issue of who he would work with. Who would replace him as the top babyface? The merchandise and everything else John does off-screen. So, ultimately, Vince didn’t want to pull the trigger on that. I think he made the right decision because John has been the standard bearer.
With thanks to WrestlingNews.co for the transcription.