I’m watching Survivor Series 1996, with one of the feature attractions being Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Hart was returning from an extended leave of absence (following his WWF Title loss to Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XII – “Tell him to get the fuck out of my ring” … heh heh heh), and during Hart’s break, Austin began to shine after winning King of the Ring. But Austin’s push was on and off – he was on Summerslam, in a dark match, and he was off Mind Games in September. Austin really blew up, though (and thank god, since our other top heel choices were Sid, Mankind and horse-riding Hunter Hearst Helmsley), after challenging, badmouthing, and finally wrestling Hart at Survivor Series. Sure, Austin lost the match, but on that night a star was born.
Like it or not, John Cena’s return from neck fusion surgery (six f’ing weeks ago) is imminent. And in somewhat of a parallel, Raw is short on really good, main-event heels. Randy Orton is about to return, and Chris Jericho is on fire, but JBL and his tits have grown old, and Kane is by no means a headliner anymore. And who else is left? Anywhere? The Great Khali? Vladimir Kozlov? Mark Henry? Maybe Big Show if they’d make up their mind how – or if – to use him.
Two things could happen when John Cena returns: He can wobble out to the stage, flopping and flailing around all willy-nilly like he always does, in his stupid oversized jersey and his trucker hat, looking as awkward and directionless as a newborn deer. Or he could return with a purpose, to shut the mouth of some new heel on the horizon who says they’re sick of hearing about John Cena’s return (and Orton doing that on Raw doesn’t count, and in fact, him doing that might have fucked the whole thing up, but not necessarily) and who challenges Cena to a match at whatever PPV he’ll be returning at.
So who out there would best fill this role? Let us discuss the top three options:
Ted DiBiase: DiBiase would be perfect, as he has the size, the in-ring ability and the gift of gab. Too bad he looks exactly like Cena, but whatever. He has a lot of things going for him that a lot of other people don’t, and he doesn’t seem to have a lot of the attributes that might be keeping others from reaching that upper echelon. His pedigree doesn’t hurt, either, being a third-generation wrestler and all. And the other slick thing is, with his mic work and his newness, crowds might get behind DiBiase and cheer him against Cena, adding another layer to the attempt at getting DiBiase over.
(But DiBiase has two other buddies, you say. Why not Cody Rhodes? Because he’s a midget. Why not Manu? Because he’s the smaller Italian Big Show. And as far as other Raw heels, it obviously can’t be Santino. Lance Cade just got released, but he kinda sucked and wouldn’t have had the personality to carry a feud like this anyway. William Regal’s ship has sailed. Chuck Palumbo, Deuce, Paul Burchill or Snitsky? Heh.)
MVP: What about someone from another brand? MVP would be perfect; he could get sick of being punked out all the time and decide this is his chance to make people take notice. Here’s the thing: Everyone loves him, and everyone knows he needs that one last piece to make his puzzle complete. His mic work is awesome, his wrestling skyrocketed after his series of matches with He-Who-Shan’t-Be-Named, and with a slight costume change (OK, we get it, you’re a free-agent athlete who wears a Breathe-Right and Under Armour) and one big angle to sink his teeth into, MVP could elevate himself to where he deserves to be. Standing toe-to-toe in a serious match with John Cena might do this for him.
Mr. Kennedy: The obvious choice… a year and a half ago. But Mr. Unbreakable has proved to be not very reliable, health-wise or running-his-mouth-wise. He oughta get a T-shirt made that says “Fragile: This Side Up” on the front and “I’m With Stupid” and an arrow pointing to his brain on the back. I hate saying these things, because all in all, Kennedy would have been the perfect top heel for Smackdown, or right underneath or alongside Edge. It wasn’t his fault he was turned face, so it wasn’t entirely his fault his momentum had been derailed (unless you count all of his injuries). But his mic work is incredible, his wrestling is OK, and even if he’s kinda smallish, his personality makes him stand out. So in another time and in another universe, Kennedy would be the guy to call out, challenge, wrestle, and beat John Cena. Here and now? I’m not as sure.
(What about Shelton Benjamin? Eh. I wish, but I doubt it. R-Truth can kiss my ass, and is a babyface anyway. Not Umaga or Vladimir F’ing Kozlov. Mike Knox would not produce a good enough match. I guess Boogeyman is back, but he’s probably a face, too. And while I’m still inside the parentheses, let me just eliminate Jack Swagger, Ryan Braddock, Hawkins & Ryder, Hurricane Helms, Kenny Dykstra, The Brian Kendrick, Bam Neely and Chavo Guerrero. Oh my god: “And in one-on-one action, John Cena answers the challenge of Chavo Guerrero! It’s the Surviiiiiivor Serieeeeeees!” Nooooo!)
And why did I leave off John Morrison, or even the Miz? Their time will come, but until they distance themselves from these somewhat goofy personas, they’ll have to rap on “The Dirt Sheet” about how John Cena makes poo-poo and pee-pee jokes and how that’s whack-a-doodle-doo.
Anyway, it’s a ready-made situation, and WWE would be dumb not to do it. Prediction: They are dumb. -Eric