LaBar: John Cena leaving WWE for Hollywood?
I think John Cena's days as a full-time WWE performer could be numbered. Hollywood is already calling and drives a hard bargain to turn down.
Cena will always be a WWE guy. He will be active or associated with the brand in some capacity for as long as he's alive.
Cena successfully defended his WWE World Heavyweight Championship on Sunday and ended the event holding his head high. Without injury or storyline justification, Cena wasn't on Monday Night RAW the next night. The reason is he was scheduled to be in New York that day to continue filming for one of the two big-budget Hollywood films he has roles in.
They are “Trainwreck,” directed by Judd Apatow, and “The Nest,” which has an all-star comedy cast of Saturday Night Live alums. Both are scheduled to be released in 2015.
The work ethic and company weight he's carried on his shoulders for the past decade is something most couldn't do. Cena certainly deserves a Monday night off from being in a wrestling ring — especially if the night off from wrestling involves making a nice payday for less physical demand.
I won't be shocked if that exchange of schedule continues to become more frequent.
Who could blame him for leaving behind 300-plus days on the road as his body aches for the big money that can be made while having a stunt double? Vince McMahon shouldn't blame him. Cena has been all McMahon's had to rest his money on many times in his tenure. Besides, if McMahon could be Jerry Bruckheimer right now, you can bet he wouldn't be at RAW every Monday night.
McMahon loves telling stories. He loves movies. Go back and listen to his quotes in the 1999 documentary “Beyond The Mat.” He directly references the audience getting hooked on WWE characters before they find out what they're really all about, “making movies,” he says before drinking a big gulp of water with a smirk on his face.
WWE did follow through somewhat on that vision and created WWE Studios. It has produced dozens of films, some straight to DVD and others to theaters with big name stars such as “The Call” with Halle Berry.
This gave the movie platform for Cena to get his feet wet with the film-making process. Make no mistake, the WWE films he's starred in were the minor leagues compared to what he's involved in now. Valuable experience which he was compensated for.
Now, the big leagues are calling.
WWE is live theater with one take and everyone does their own stunts. It's a natural transition to Hollywood for those who are good enough. A lot of WWE talents have the talent to embody a character and tell a story.
It's those special few that also have big name value which can add something to the IMDB listing of a big Hollywood project. Nobody is bigger or more fit to that criteria in the past decade in WWE than Cena.
After Cena's absence this past Monday, PWInsider.com is reporting a lot of chatter backstage in WWE about people feeling Cena is a lock to be lured away to movies.
The same thing happened to The Rock in 2004. It was just about the same time when Cena was on the rise to take his place as the new top guy for WWE.
Of course, we all remember these two having their feud in recent years where they headlined WrestleMania 28 and 29. A major plotline in the feud was Cena saying The Rock turned his back on WWE, while Cena bleeds for the business and is never leaving. It made for good tension building in the feud, but anybody who would actually hold Cena to those words either is out of touch with reality or is terrible at business.
Cena has given it all to WWE. He's accomplished it all. Even if he doesn't become a leading man in Hollywood, it's still worth it considering the break it gives his body.
It won't be an overnight departure. I can see him easing into a new schedule. A schedule in between Brock Lesnar and Chris Jericho. WWE gets two or three big fights a year guaranteed out of him similar to Lesnar. I don't see him coming in and out as sporadic as Lesnar does where he's here one day and gone the next. I think he will take after Jericho by coming back for a few months in a row before leaving to go work on his next project.
When Cena's ready, he should head west. Any fans who give him crap for it haven't walked a day in his shoes. Any wrestler who criticizes him for it is jealous and would do the same. Cena leaving is earned and deserved. Plus, Cena leaving forces a new star to step up and seize the opportunity.
Justin LaBar is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7949 or firstname.lastname@example.org.