Professional wrestling, when done right, is glorious. No other art form comes close to the amalgamation of suspense, thrill, agony, ecstasy, and most of all – the theatrical nature of professional wrestling.
Often interpreted as the product of ballet and Hollywood, professional wrestling opens doors to worlds that people would’ve otherwise never imagined. Similar to the ‘magician’s truth’ – a universe arcane to the spectators, the wrestling business covers itself with an invisible cloak.
This aura of uncertainty, and the fact that the business has always been covered in a cloud of mystery, catapulted the business into mainstream attention in the 80’s. However, as more people succeeded in peeling away the layers that has helped maintain the ‘kayfabe’ aspect of the wrestling world, it was no longer the entity that could succeed in making the fans wait with bated breath.
While that was true in the early part of 90’s, as the business started to come out of its shell – especially after realising that, instead of going through an identity crisis, it could morph into something unique, the industry began to go in a different path. No longer was professional wrestling confined to the rules and regulations that are imposed on other sports.
Similar to a play in a theatre, the business was well within its rights to dictate its fate, and define its boundaries. There were few constraints however – the elementary rules of professional wrestling. The building blocks on which the business was built on dictates that, no matter how unscrupulous people get, the fundamental reason for the existence of the business cannot be forgotten.
While everybody understands how puppet shows operate, there is no point in highlighting the strings attached, or the presence of the puppeteer. While the audience is under no illusion pertaining to the mechanics behind the workings of a puppet show, pointing out the fact that the entire show is in fact a charade grossly undermines the intelligence of the people.
How the John Cena – Roman Reigns promo fails to tick the first box
Firstly, let me acknowledge the absurdity in dissecting a scripted promo failing to adhere to the rules of a scripted sport. But as someone that analyses a business that inherently thrives in a contrived environment, I’m quite used to this.
Considering the first rule in professional wrestling is to not break the fourth wall, promos that shatter the imaginary glass wall often stand out. When CM Punk lashed out at the WWE management six years ago, during the now infamous ‘Pipebomb’ promo, the world lauded Punk’s genius – not because of how obvious he made everything look, but because he did not forego the nuances, break traditions just for the momentary “wow” factor.
Instead, the entire build – up, the premise to the promo and the aftermath had a purpose. But what we witnessed this past week on RAW was anything but engrossing. Except for pandering to the niche section of the audience, that have, for years, tried to peek behind the curtains, it left more questions than it answered.
To put things into perspective, John Cena’s issue with Roman Reigns lies with the fact that Reigns never “earned” his spot. Cena also pointed out the fact that the WWE fans do not appreciate Roman Reigns. The Leader of CeNation also alluded to how Vince McMahon and the corporate machine tried to make Roman a “cheap knock off” of John Cena.
In two promos, Cena claimed that the WWE management wouldn’t let anyone get in Roman’s way, while also trying to make people believe that, in the scripted nature and under the confines of a regulated environment, he would ‘beat the system’. That argument holds as much water, as someone saying that they know a game is rigged, but they would beat it anyway.
Cena has always carried himself with gravitas that isn’t common in the business today. John, while being told to disappear into the light, remained the beacon of hope for millions of fans worldwide. While the industry itself is a well orchestrated lie, Cena has remained true. However, the moment he used the term ‘heel’ in his promo, he was no longer being true to the business.
Cheap pop: Roman Reigns’ claim that John Cena buries young talent
It isn’t often that Superstars are urged to ignore the line in the sand – to break the proverbial fourth wall. Mentioning it too many times wouldn’t serve the purpose, and overdoing it would take away the interest it is meant to generate in the first place.
For years, the fans have talked about how John Cena buries young talent. From Wade Barrett and Nexus to Rusev, a lot of examples have substantiated those claims. However, when Reigns stated that Cena couldn’t bury him, his argument started falling into the gaping abyss.
Cena isn’t the only Superstar that has been accused of burying young talent. Even Roman Reigns, in the past, has halted Superstars’ momentum. From Bray Wyatt to Sheamus, there were Superstars that Roman worked with, that never quite recovered from the losses they suffered at the hands of Reigns.
The moment both Superstars acknowledged that they were being pushed by the WWE machine – to the extent of them sitting atop the elusive throne, and that they could finally be the one to beat the system – and thus each other, their rivalry started to defy the physics of wrestling. Similar to stars imploding, the logic behind their promos has left a massive black hole, that sucks any semblance of reasoning and rationale.