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"Exploring the Hypothetical: John Cena's Potential Heel Turn after WrestleMania XXVIII"

What if John Cena turned heel?

As the lights dim and the familiar “Duh-Nuh-Nah-Nah” blares throughout the arena, the WWE Universe erupts. 

It is the Raw after Wrestlemania XXVIII, one that hosted the “Once In A Lifetime” match between John Cena and The Rock. After coming out on the losing end of their match, one that saw Cena on the receiving end of various boos and “Cena Sucks” chants, the fifteen-time champion made his way out to the top of the stage. 

Yet there is something different about Cena’s demeanor. No longer is he wearing his traditional jorts, bright-colored oversized shirt, and ball cap with a big grin. No longer is he bouncing around and pandering to the fans. Suddenly the upbeat theme music that everyone had become accustomed to, was remixed into a darker more solum beat as Cena made his way to the ring minus any sort of emotion. 

Stepping between the ropes, there would be no posing, no throwing up any hand gestures. Instead, fans saw a black suit-wearing, more serious individual. While this wasn’t exactly the Doctor of Thuganomics of 2002, Cena certainly had a different agenda. 

“For years I’ve carried the WWE on my back. Through blood, sweat, and tears I sacrificed my body, time, and life for two things: championships and you. Yet when the Rock decides to show up after a seven-year absence, claiming that he is the People’s Champion, you cheer him and declare him as the Great One? Where is my loyalty and respect?”

Cena’s promo would continue with insults directed towards the fans who jeered him, targeting their fickleness (in Daniel Bryan's words). Removing his jacket, Cena removed his famous armband, one that covered a large welt, a result of “The People’s Elbow”. Tossing the armband into the crowd amidst a shower of boos, Cena would leave the ring to a chorus of boos. Stopping atop the ramp, the once proud leader of the “Cenation” turned a final “You Can’t See Me” hand gesture into a vicious middle finger salute. 

During the weeks that followed, Cena’s matches became brutal affairs. His signature high-flying offense powered by the cheers from the youngsters in the crowd turned into vicious strikes, inflicting maximum pain. The famous “Five Knuckle Shuffle” was no longer a playful act with the fans, but rather a vicious strike that left his opponents out cold. No longer the hero, Cena focused his efforts on the young upcoming stars and veterans that he felt were past their prime. 

Cena’s new persona continued to call out the hypocrisy of the fans, the backstage politics, and the manufactured storylines. As weeks turned into months, Cena continued to run through the WWE locker room and anyone who dared to step in his way. On the mic, he would target the core of the WWE Universe, the young fans who once worshiped every move he made. Rather than speaking of “Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect”, he challenged the narrative and shattered their dreams. 

Whether they were fan favorites or hated heels, Cena dominated anyone who stood in his way. From Daniel Bryan to CM Pun, Sheamus to Mark Henry, Cena was driven by a darker fire than anyone had ever seen. Fueled by the goal of capturing what he felt was taken from him, the WWE Championship, Cena repeatedly dropped mic bombs about The Rock. 

Fast forward to the 2013 Royal Rumble in which Cena, who entered the ring in the nineteenth spot, captured his fourth Royal Rumble match victory, guaranteeing a main event title shot at WrestleMania 29. Less than thirty minutes later after The Rock defeated CM Punk for the WWE Championship, Cena appeared on the stage as The Rock soaked in the cheers of the crowd. 

The next night on Raw, Cena announced he would challenge The Rock at WrestleMania 29, but rather than using his words, the more aggressive, edgier Cena attacked the newly crowned champion, leaving him in the middle of the ring in a pool of blood. Grabbing the mic, Cena stood over his fallen foe, gritting his teeth as he spewed out four simple words, “Hell In A Cell!”

The Rock vs. John Cena WrestleMania 29

In front of 74,300 fans at MetLife Stadium, the feud between the two generational wrestlers would come to a climax. The electric crowd who showered the ring with a volatile mix of cheers and boos knew this wasn’t just a wrestling match, it was a battle for the soul of the WWE Universe. 

The match itself proved to be a brutal affair, a testament to the hatred between two of the greatest wrestlers to step into a WWE ring. Fighting with a ferocity that he had never displayed before, each of Cena’s punches, kicks, and clotheslines was fueled by the sting of betrayal from the WWE Universe and the hypocrisy of the man who stood in front of him. 

No longer bound by the shackles of pleasing the crowd, Cena unleashed a vicious attack that made use of anything and everything he could turn into a weapon. The Rock, on the other hand, fighting to solidify his place on the WWE Mount Rushmore of wrestling, countered everything Cena threw at him with a similar edge. 

Gone was the PG-friendly WWE as both wrestlers channeled back to the days of Ruthless Aggression and the Attitude Era. Despite the violence, the match would be a masterpiece of storytelling, a clash of ideologies fueled by personal animosity. 

Battered, bloody, and bruised, a desperate Cena used the chain-link fence to deliver a thunderous Attitude Adjustment, but The Rock would kick out of the follow-up pin attempt at the last second. In a flashback to WrestleMania 13, Cena locked The Rock into a STFU as a crimson mask continued to cover the champ’s face. Rather than tap out, The Rock’s body would go limp as the official called for the bell. 

What followed was a muted celebration. The victory came at a cost. As the crowd was still unsure how to react, Cena stood in the ring soaking in the wreckage. Was this the official death of the hero the WWE Universe once knew or the birth of a ruthless icon?

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