At Extreme Rules, a show that was pretty much pedestrian (minus a few Singapore Cane shots) until the top matches, WWE made the mistake of booking a non-finish in a Last Man Standing match on what was hyped as their most extreme night of the year.
For those of you who didn't order the show, WWE champion John Cena and challenger Ryback had a pretty fun brawl that eventually led them to the entrance stage. Cena attempted to nail the Attitude Adjustment off the stage but Ryback slipped away and grabbed Cena, plowing him through the LED light boards to parts unknown.
There are sparks of electricity and referee Charles Robinson put on his best 'WTF' face as he scampered to find out what happened to these combatants and where they disappeared to. We eventually discover Cena laid out precariously over some metal piping with Ryback also out cold on the concrete floor.
Now, let's ignore the fact that as a Last Man Standing match goes, the rules should have been that should Ryback get to his feet first (he did), Cena would be counted down and Ryback would be the champion. None of this happened. Instead, for the sake of all that was moral and for the sake of everyone's health, the match was halted.
Ryback walked off, with help. The last time we saw John Cena, he was being stretchered off to a hospital to be checked out.
Even if you disliked the non-finish as much as I did or felt it didn't do anything for either man, at least WWE now had the drama of Cena going to the hospital, which could conceivably lead to a bigger grudge match, some angry promos, Ryback claiming he was the true champion - something!
Instead, we learned on the PPV post game show that just minutes after he was put on the stretcher, Cena demanded to be taken off and of course, he was and walked off, seemingly of his own power, with several trainers helping him.
So, tonight on Raw, we can predict that John Cena will basically walk out like nothing happened, smile and cut some goofy promo that a big part of the audience rejects. So, the big bump, the Last Man Standing match, all of it - WILL HAVE BEEN FOR NOTHING.
A complete waste of time and money and with nothing to show for it. There will be no injuries sold. There will be no greater grudge. It will just be another episode of Raw that drolls on for three hours and forces everyone's eyes to glaze over because it's far too long and the nucleus of the show, Cena, is once again presented as a wisecracking superman who would die if he ever had to tell jokes to save his own life.
Cena gets compared to a lot of the older super-hero characters of WWE lore, but there's a major difference. When Hulk Hogan or Ultimate Warrior needed to be laid out to sell a big match or a big angle, they were and WWE treated it like it a national tragedy. Of course, they eventually returned, conquered and saved the day, but the drama - for what pro wrestling was at the time - was there and there were certainly doubts in the eyes of some of the fans that these characters might be defeated.
Compare Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy, Andre the Giant, hell even Paul Orndorff, to any John Cena feud.
Compare Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage to any John Cena feud.
The major difference is not that fans boo Cena. It's not that Cena's smiling. It's not the lame verbiage. It's that when the time came for the super-hero to get his ass kicked, get serious, and somehow find a way to come back and fight the good fight and vanquish their enemies, they did. But, they had to be knocked down before they stepped back up and faced their rivals.
John Cena, in comparison, just went through the wrestling equivalent of a car wreck (and possibly a fall down several feet) and walked away. How can anyone ever take Ryback seriously as a threat going forward? He damn near murdered Cena and Cena bounced back up like it meant nothing. So, if the unstoppable Ryback (who, actually, you know, hasn't won a PPV match in over half a year) can't get the job done, how is anyone supposed to take any other challenger seriously?
Don't even say Brock Lesnar to me either - Cena already beat him!
There is a new Superman movie coming out this summer and one of the reasons that it took forever for this most recent film to come out was a simple one - when you have an unstoppable hero, it's impossible to create sympathy for him because he can careen through anything and it's too much of a stretch to expect the audience to accept that.
WWE has gone far beyond any stretch of the imagination with John Cena. Last night was just the latest example of how stupid it comes across.
To take a cue from another DC Comics storyline, we need a year without Superman.
WWE needs to book John Cena as the babyface in peril and if they can't do that, well, it's time for John Cena to disappear for awhile. Until things change or he goes away long enough for the company to build other assets, WWE will continue to book him in a way that enables this silliness and place him into a position where he's the only horse that can pull the company cart.
By refusing to book Cena as anything but the Superman character, the company is cutting down their other potential stars one by one - either because they don't have faith in them or that the company has become so clueless, they don't see the landscape. Everyone from the Shield to Antonio Cesaro to Brock has fallen to Cena and for what?
It's time someone dropped a big piece of Kryptonite on John Cena the character for the sake of the entire company. It's time for Cena to step off the grind (one that has beaten him hard, based on all the injuries Michael Cole recounted last night) and it's time for WWE to stop blowing it by booking Superman Cena.
It's beyond done. It's not working. The audience, and quite frankly, the company itself, deserves better.
Mike Johnson can be reached at MikeJohnsonPWInsider@gmail.com.