January 17, 2012
In a real-life battle of good versus evil, John Cena will face one of the gravest challenges of his career Jan. 29 when he squares off against Kane at the 25th anniversary of WWE’s Royal Rumble event. Devoid of championship implications, yet worlds removed from being a matter of simple bragging rights, this main-event-caliber showdown had been constructed around a single, base emotion: hate.
Now that Kane’s plan to “spread the hate” has ensnared Cena’s good friend Zack Ryder, however, another emotion has potentially been added to the mix for the Cenation leader: guilt. With Kane having attacked and seriously injured the United States Champion, Cena heads into the Royal Rumble event painfully aware that his rivalry with Kane has already brought harm upon one close ally.
Long before Ryder became entangled, though, this was a matter all about hate. On one side of the equation is the righteous Cena, who proudly advocates a “Rise Above” mentality whenever the topic is broached. On the other side is hate incarnate, the restrengthened Big Red Machine, who has been a destructive force without peer since resurfacing – with mask – last December.
Although these two Superstars have faced off before, their upcoming bout at the Royal Rumble is made unique by this compelling piece of subtext, which, it must be noted, came about because of the WWE Universe’s mixed response to Cena.
For years, Cena has served as WWE’s ever-so-marketable face. As such, there have been precious few moments in time when his back hasn’t had a bull’s-eye on it. Fragmented by dueling chants of “Let’s Go Cena” and “Cena Sucks,” the WWE Universe has grown accustomed to seeing the polarizing Superstar turn back one opponent after another.
The Devil’s Favorite Demon, though, appears to have shaken Cena to the core with his message of hate. Originally intent on convincing Cena to “embrace the hate,” Kane insisted for weeks that the Cenation leader tap into a thread of DNA that may not even exist.
His endeavor has proven fruitless, as the diplomatic Cena continues to hold firm in his belief that the WWE Universe should be free to cheer or boo whichever Superstars they see fit – even him.
Cena’s principled ways, however, have come at a high cost – in this case, repeated attacks by Kane that have spilled over to include Ryder. Seemingly conceding that Cena is unlikely to stray from his beliefs, The Big Red Machine now says he’s out to ensure that Cena suffers the consequences of rejecting hate.
Though Cena barely thwarted Kane’s devious plan to drag Ryder into hell on the Jan. 2 Raw SuperShow, luck was not on his side, or Ryder’s, a week later when Kane used Ryder as bait to lure Cena into a trap.
The WWE Universe watched on in horror Jan. 9, as The Big Red Machine injured Ryder by chokeslamming the U.S. Champion off a loading dock platform onto wooden pallets. Although Cena tried to run interference and prevent Kane from further assaulting his friend, The Big Red Machine overpowered the Cenation commander-in-chief, leaving him lying, unconscious, as the show went off the air.
On Jan. 29, live on pay-per-view, Cena will have his chance to avenge Ryder, while Kane will have his opportunity to reap the consequences that he seeks. Who will succeed? Has The Devil’s Favorite Demon’s relentless attacks worn down Cena? Or will Cena, outmatched physically by the terrorizing monster, somehow manage to out-will Kane?