They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but mere days from the two week anniversary of John Cena’s much hyped return to the ring, and I feel no different than the day he left. I do not hate John Cena or his domination of the WWE narrative over the last decade, nor does the man elicit excitement in me, even in the wake of returning months early from an injury that we were told would keep a mere mortal out of action for half a year. I am not upset that John is back and carrying the World Heavyweight Championship (a title that he was all but handed and did not hustle to acquire, nor did he display loyalty or respect to the fellow superstars who surely were more deserving of a championship opportunity than a guy that had been out of action for months… but I digress), only saddened that his return to action elicited but a blip on my emotional radar (and that blip was Sandow’s Failed Cash-In).
This week I had the pleasure of reading a piece on the Era of John Cena written by the delightful and talented TJR Writer Hugh Firth (if you haven’t read it yet, you should) and his piece reminded me of the time where John Cena did garner genuine excitement from me. Those certainly were the days. Now watching him feel’s like groundhog’s day, where each and every feud, rivalry or storyline hits the same familiar beats.
I have stated it before, but it is worth repeating that my two major gripes with the John Cena character are that he takes very little seriously and is essentially unflappable, and that he has no true foil. All his struggles are physical ones that he eventually overcomes. I don’t claim to know how every other viewer feels but I’d love to see Super Cena put in a situation he can’t punch or power his way through. A situation where he struggles emotionally with a choice he has to make, or intellectually with an opponent thinking several steps ahead of him.
Which brings me to Damien Sandow, the man who tried and failed to pry the World Heavyweight Championship from John Cena by cashing in his Money In The Bank briefcase. I was very interested to see how Sandow would be booked following his failure and I’ll say while I’m not disappointed (which considering the WWE, I was ready to be) I’m not terribly excited either. They seem to be parlaying Sandow’s defeat and perceived embarrassment into him becoming a more serious, determined and dangerous challenger for the title. While that is all well and good, it’s fantastically conventional.
As those who know me can attest, I have a flare for the more outside the box options and couldn’t help but start the wheels turning in my head about how to follow up Sandow’s failed attempt to cash-in Money In The Bank briefcase. There has to be a way to use this to put John Cena in a position he’s never been in before, excite the WWE Universe with something new, and establish Damien Sandow as a truly worthy (albeit likely short-lived) foil to the uncompromising hero known as John Cena.
The way that I see it, the character Damien Sandow is at a crossroad: either settle into the role of perpetual underachiever (given that winning the Money In The Bank match is the only signature victory on his resume and how often he lost right after), or establish himself as the WWE’s Diabolical Super Genius. Weighing the two options, I am certain there is more fun to be had with Damien Sandow graduating from Intellectual Savior of the Masses to Diabolical Super Genius, who uses his superior intellect, not brute force to best WWE’s resident Superman.
Last week I bandied about the idea of Damien Sandow’s failed cash-in being part of a grander, more diabolical scheme. While I suggested the thought mostly in jest, having had a week to think on it, I can’t help but get excited about the possibility. The idea of intentionally losing your Money In The Bank cash-in match is so monumentally foolish that having that be precisely what Sandow did as part of a bigger plot would be completely unexpected, and incredibly intriguing.
Imagine if you will that on January 26, 2014 at the Royal Rumble, the World Heavyweight Championship match is Damien Sandow challenging John Cena. The prior months have seen Sandow maliciously target John Cena’s already hurt arm, as well as his other limbs, to no avail as Damien Sandow has yet to record a pinfall victory over John Cena. He lost to John at Survivor Series, where John pinned him in a triple threat match that also involved Alberto Del Rio, and John overcame all odds when he mustered up the strength to put Sandow through a table at TLC. The Royal Rumble is the last opportunity he is affording Sandow, and it is here that John intends to settle the score with Sandow, who has made his return from injury extremely difficult by never ceasing to aggravate the injury, and creating others.
Despite being told by several people that he should take a few nights off to rest the accumulating nagging injuries caused by Sandow, Cena powers through and wrestles (and endures relentless sneak attacks) on Monday and Friday every week leading up to the big match at Royal Rumble. At the pay-per-view John Cena gives it everything he has despite being exhausted and battling through multiple injuries Damien has zeroed in on. John hits the Attitude Adjustment out of nowhere and can see the end of this long grueling match in sight, but Sandow kicks out… something he hasn’t managed to do in any of the matches the two have had prior. Sandow wins the bout soon after (Not without the help of a well timed cheap shot to the injured arm with pipe).
The next night on Raw, the new World Heavyweight Champion Damien Sandow enters to address his historic defeat of John Cena. It is in this promo he claims that the occurrences of the last few months were all part of a carefully calculated plot to wrestle the World Heavyweight Title Belt from John Cena’s grasp. Sandow will say he didn’t just want to beat Cena and have the title, but as the Intellectual Savior of the Masses, he wanted to teach John Cena a lesson. He’d ask John to think back to the night he cashed in Money in the Bank “didn’t that win feel a little to easy after the way that I brutalized your already injured arm?” He’d then point out that all the wins were a little too easy for John Cena, because it was all part of the master plan. Sandow just wanted to push John to the edge, and every time Cena hit that AA out of desperation, Sandow would claim he laid down despite having the awareness and stamina to have kicked out had he desired.
He did this, as well as target John Cena’s remaining limbs to help build the legend of John Cena, The Unstoppable. He wanted John Cena to believe that he was more than a man and could will his way through any adversity, no matter how broken and exhausted he felt. Damien knew he wouldn’t take any time off before their big match because he can’t go a week without pandering to the people, and he truly believed he could do anything, and at The Royal Rumble, Sandow reminded John Cena and the world that he is a Diabolical Super Genius. He kicked out of Cena’s last ditch effort to win, and with Cena running on empty, it wasn’t hard to secure the World Heavyweight Championship soon after. Damien Sandow will say that winning the title is the crowning achievement of his career, but he will always be most proud of the lesson he taught John Cena about not buying into your own hype. “I made all you people and John Cena himself believe he was Superman, only to remind you all that I am Kryptonite… You're Welcome!”
This narrative would be mutually beneficial to both superstars because it makes Sandow’s claim of being incredibly intelligent ring true, thus making him a more serious threat in the landscape of the WWE, and it gives John Cena a different kind of story to tell, one where someone used his strengths, those being his will to compete and connect with the fans, against him. He will encounter a kind of adversity he has never before wrestled with, the adversity brought on by a superior mind. Of course this will lead to John Cena recapturing the title unless Wrestlemania plans take him in another direction, but it’s worth repeating that John Cena facing real adversity would be more exciting to watch than him cakewalk through the WWE roster.
Thank you for indulging my creative side, but as always I want to know what you think! Can Damien Sandow graduate to Diabolical Super Genius? Or is he destined to perpetually underachieve like Mr. Wade Barrett? Does anyone else miss his purple kneepads and pink trunks? And would you be more entertained watching John Cena have to overcome some real adversity as opposed to the melodramatic shenanigans he finds himself in on a weekly basis presently?
Until next time folks, I’m Matty J. Douglas saying that this new season of Misfits has been surprisingly strong! Watching WWE would be much harder if I didn’t get pleasant surprises like this season of Misfits and other quality programming. Have a great weekend everybody!