by Craig Higham - November 27, 2013
Last week I discussed, why I feel, while still being a fully active member of the WWE roster, John Cena will continue to be the face of the WWE, whether many die-hard fans want him there or not, and Survivor Series just proved my point. If you missed my article then here it is:
What I like to discuss this week is where on the WWE roster can a new ‘face of the company’ come from once John Cena finally decides to either retire, move to part time etc. And again I will use history of the WWE to show it is not always the superstar you think that will replace the leaving face of the company….
While it make sense that the next most popular superstar would fill the vacant face position, this has not always been the case. A dark horse, a wrestler who grabs the opportunity at the right time is usually the wrestler who will fill this void. And they can come from a tag team, from under the shadow of a dominate manager, overcome a terrible gimmick or have the right gimmick at just the right time. Before I look at possible futures let us look back at where the past faces came from before heading the WWE.
The other important thing to note before we look at possible replacements for John Cena, is acknowledging that the face of the company needs to be a ‘face’ superstar and not a heel…initially anyway. Bret Hart, The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin all had heel runs while being the face of the company, however they also long runs as faces. The casual fan, and the younger fans, are more likely to by the shirt of a ‘good guy’ than a heel, and considering research has shown these genre of fans buy the most merchandise, then continue the trend, the replacement face of the company for John Cena will need to be a face persona wrestler. This does narrow our selection down.
Let us look at WWE history to help us determine where the next face of the WWE could possible come from:
Having a superstar already prepared to take over the role is the first option. This is done by having this superstar regularly in main event matches and story lines whilst current ‘The current company face’ is still around. This is what the WWE did with Bret Hart. Before Hulk Hogan jumped to WCW, if you look at the PPV’s in 1993, Bret Hart wrestled the main event at Wrestlemania 9, won the King of The Ring, and he was one of the survivors of his team in his Survivor Series match. When Hogan left the company, while it left a big hole, the fans did have a “face in waiting”, someone they were already cheering for and someone they were already used to seeing main event PPV’s.
Using this option with the current WWE roster, then the likes of CM Punk, Ryback and Daniel Bryan head the list of possible candidates to fill the role when John Cena leaves. We are already used to seeing these three main event PPV’s, used to seeing these three in main event story lines, and they all have held their own against John Cena.
Having a rostered mid-card superstar thrust into the spot light through a main event feud worked for Stone Cold Steve Austin. After Bret Hart left for WCW we saw the evil Mr McMahon emerge and feud with Stone Cold, who had only just left The Million Dollar Man and The Ringmaster gimmick. This feud became the main event of nearly all the WWE and history showed it was the catalyst for the WWE in winning the Monday night wars.
The Rock after becoming the head of the ‘Nation of Domination’ became embroiled in a feud with DX, who at the time were riding a wave of popularity. The feud between The Nation and DX, helped escalate The Rock’s popularity by show casing his ability in the ring and on the mic
Using this option with the current WWE roster then the likes of Antonio Cesaro, or Jack Swagger could be the next faces, leaving Zeb Coulter just at the right time, a slight repackage of their character and placed into a main event feud. Although with Jack Swagger having 2 attempts already to move up the card and failing, then maybe this option rest with Antonio Cesaro. Other current WWE superstars that could emerge from this type of scenario include Roman Riegns, Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre.
A member of a strong tag team breaking up usually has one wrestle climbing to the top of the WWE roster, while the other suffering from ‘The Marty Janetty’ factor. Bret Hart made the transition from member of The Hart Foundation to the top of the WWE. Being a multiply tag team champion gave Bret Hart the building blocks for his fan base, which grew as he made the successful transition to single star.
Using this option with the current WWE roster, then any member of The Shield could easily make the transition to successful single wrestler, as well as the likes Antonio Cesaro, Jack Swagger, and Cody Rhodes.
As we saw in 2011 with CM Punk, giving a stand-out, memorable promo can lift you from mid-card to main event over-night. Unfortunately for CM Punk, his promo was delivered during the John Cena reign. But we have seen in the past with Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock, delivering a stand-out memorable promo at the right time can in fact move you from mid-card to the very top of the WWE. When Steve Austin delivered his now famous Austin 3:16 speech after winning the King of The Ring, the following night on RAW we started to see AUSTIN 3:16 signs all around the arena. This was the catalyst for the rise of Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Rock after being booed during his initial run as his smiling Rocky Maivia, came back and joined heel group The Nation of Domination. It wasn’t so much his heel turn that had the fans talking, it was his ‘Die Rocky Die’ promo on why he turned that made people sit up and take notice. It was this promo that began his rise to the top of the WWE.
Using this option with the current WWE roster, then we have to look who current on the roster has the skills to give a memorable promo. CM Punk heads that list, but you could also add the likes of Damien Sandow, Dean Ambrose or Bray Wyatt
Just like having the right promo at the right time could elevate you to the ‘face of the company’, so can having the right gimmick, persona or look at the right time. When Vince K McMahon took over from his dad, he wanted a poster wrestler to represent his brand to the world. He chased Hulk Hogan because he believed Hogan had the perfect look and image he was after and was looking for to be the face of his WWE.
Both Steve Austin and The Rock thrived in the attitude era, as both their persona’s suited this era, whilst John Cena rose to the top as his gimmick / persona was perfectly suited to the PG audience that the WWE moved to from the attitude era.
Using this option with the current WWE roster, and looking at the history of what Vince McMahon likes in his top stars then you need to look at Sheamus, Roman Riegns, Ryback, Jack Swagger or Drew McIntrye as possible John Cena replacements.
Lastly, a wrestler is able to become the ‘face of the company’ through hard work, and outstanding performances in the ring. After breaking away from The Hart Foundation, Bret Hart’s rise to the top come through delivering top quality matches against a variety of opponents. Stone Cold Steve Austin match against Bret Hart at Wrestlemania was his match that showed the fans his toughness in the ring which gained him the respect of the fans, and helped further his eventual rise to the top.
Using this option with the current WWE roster, then Daniel Bryan is a standout. I was not initial fan of Daniel Bryan as I did not know of his Indy work, but watching him deliver match after match, had me joining all the other fans in appreciating him as a performer.
What do you think makes a wrestler become the “face”?
Next week Part 3 – I will let you know who I think will be the replacement when John Cena leaves the WWE
Hooroo and see you next week.
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