As any wrestling pundit can tell you, becoming a fan-favorite or “babyface” in professional wrestling is no mean feat. A striking example that manifests this well and has remained consistent over the years is John Cena, WWE’s paramount poster boy for over a decade.
On Busted Open Radio, esteemed wrestling figure Bully Ray unfolded the underlying reasons behind Cena’s extraordinary run. “The Cena playbook is foolproof. It’s babyface 101,” Bully stated, emphasizing that Cena’s strategy involves doing absolutely anything to put a smile on the fans’ faces, or as Bully put it, “put their hand in their pocket and keep them coming back for more.”
It’s no secret that Cena has unstintingly dedicated time and effort to satiate his fans. He strived to always do the righteous thing onscreen, never straying into the territory of villains or ‘heels,’ thereby rooting him firmly as a role model offscreen as well.
Cena’s generosity extended off-stage too with considerable time dedicated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In addition, fans always got a piece of him at WWE events, be it a towel, shirt, or wristband. Essentially, if Cena was on the card, fans knew they were going to get their money’s worth.
However, Cena’s “foolproof playbook” doesn’t seem entirely exclusive to him. Recently, Cody Rhodes, following his WWE comeback, has also been seen emulating a similar formula to Cena’s, much to the delight of fans in AEW. The crowd connection has been at the heart of Rhodes’ approach since his return, from an interactive entrance sequence to staying behind post-show for fan interactions at ringside.
Moreover, Rhodes has brought his own unique flair by presenting his weight belt to a fortunate fan at ringside, further increasing his popularity in the process. The strategy has catapulted Rhodes into considerable fame, even to the point of recently besting Cena’s merchandise sales at WWE Payback, proving to be a fruitful decision for ‘The American Nightmare’ so far.
John Cena’s legacy continues to echo within the wrestling industry, particularly through Rhodes. Who said the old ways were dead? For Cena and now, seemingly, Rhodes, ‘babyface 101’ is very alive, very effective, and eternally crowd-pleasing. The Cena playbook, it seems is not just a legacy but also a strategy to win over fans, revalidating its fool-proof nature. The ring awaits its next babyface!
Sources: Busted Open Radio and Wrestling Inc.