The WWE is losing money and desperate for ratings. Their ratings only seem to spike these days when they bring back 50 and 60-year-old men like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Scott Hall to talk on the mic for two or three minutes.
So what's the best way to shake up the monotony? Hows about turning your biggest star from the past 10 years heel?
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It's time. It really is.
It's time for John Cena to break bad.
A few ways Cena could get "Hulk Hogan-joining-The-Outsiders" heat for the next year-plus:
The Heyman swerve
Over the past few weeks, Paul Heyman has been trying to get Cena to finally tell the fans to "go stick it," much like Hogan did in his famous 1996 Bash at the Beach speech. Well, what better way for Cena to stick it to his loyal fans than to join the "one behind the 1 in 21-1?"
I could see Heyman turning on Brock Lesnar at the end of the Night of Champions main event match this Sunday, giving Cena the win. Then the two could beat Lesnar unmercifully, maybe even draw a little blood (gasp), creating something of a double-switch.
Heyman has been going out of his way lately in trying to put over Cena as the greatest WWE champion of all-time anyway. (It's a clue!) And don't be fooled by Cena "beating up" Heyman last Monday night. All he did was push him. It's a lot like when The Rock joined The Corporation back in the day, even though he gave Vince McMahon The People's Elbow just days prior. In the words of Vince Russo, "it was just an elbow! A People's Elbow! That doesn't hurt!"
Lesnar as a good guy? Really?!
Lesnar could be something of a modern day Andre the Giant, only showing up when the babyfaces absolutely needed re-inforcement. And if Kurt Angle is really returning to WWE (as it looks like he just may be), having them together as the top two good guys in the company for a few months wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. They could bill them as two grappling purists, trying to put the "wrestling" back in WWE. And Cena would be the ultimate antagonist to a Angle/Lesnar faction ... ya, know ... because he "can't wrestle."
The Punk factor
Yes, I think C.M. Punk is coming back. Probably not until the Royal Rumble (which would mark exactly one year since he last appeared), but still. There's just way too much money being left on the table here. And wouldn't a babyface Punk vs. a Cena/Heyman heel team make the WWE gobs and gobs of money? All the elements are there for a classic feud and WrestleMania match.
Punk is obviously best as a heel, but when he comes back, he's not getting booed by anyone for at least six months. Absence makes the wrestling heart grow fonder, of course.
Fake reality imitates fake life
Brie Bella is a good guy (or gal), now. Nikki is a bad guy (or gal), now. Wouldn't it make sense to continue to have Brie's husband Daniel Bryan as a face and have Cena - Nikki's boyfriend - as a heel? They have commercials for Total Divas during RAW. Ninety-five percent of those who watch WWE know who's dating who, already. Why wouldn't a face John Cena come out during RAW and tell bad gal Nikki that her morals are out-of-whack? A Cena heel turn makes this whole situation easier. Nikki might play one hell of a Sensational Sherry too, who knows?
For all intents and purposes, "good guy Hulk Hogan" came onto the WWF scene in 1984. Twelve years later in 1996, he was the biggest heel in the fake sport's history. John Cena came onto the WWE scene in 2002. It's 12 years later, right now.
Don't think it's a coincidence that Cena is wearing "red and yellow" colors right now either.
16-time World Champion
Internet fans already hate the fact that WWE actually acknowledged that Cena won his 15th World Championship at the Money in the Bank Pay-Per-View. What it means is that he's one step closer to tying the hallowed mark set by Flair. If Cena wins the title on Sunday and turns heel, there's no doubt that his 16th title win will be a huge talking point for the WWE's top villain going foward. As seen at this past WrestleMania, wrestling fans love tradition. It stung like hell when the Undertaker's streak was snapped. Watching Cena boast about being better than Flair would be 167,984 times worse than when Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron's home run mark. Talk about tainted.
One can already hear Heyman introducing Cena: "Ladies and gentlemen ... the reigning, defending, 16-time, record-setting, first ballot Hall of Fame-bound, 21 and 1 conquering, Ric Flair-besting ... the FRANCHISE. The LORD. The SAVIOR. The G.O.A.T., one CeNation, under JOHN ... CENA!!!!!!!"
Follow Metro Boston sports editor and columnist Matt Burke on Twitter: @BurkeMetroBOS