How Do You Solve a Problem Like John Cena?

Hulk Hogan headlined his first Wrestlemania in 1985 when he was 32 years old. He went on to perform at the main event level until Wrestlemania 19 in 2003.

John Cena is 34.

Maybe the Hulkster is an extreme case, but it’s absolutely conceivable that the former Doctor of Thuganomics could be hustling, proving loyalty, and providing respect for another seventeen years. I’m sure Vince McMahon is cool with this as Cena has proven to be a reliable merchandise mover and squeaky clean front man for the company, but you have to wonder what’s next for him creatively.

Clearly his days of chasing the world title should be behind him. Winning the title for Cena now carries the emotional weight of finding a decoder ring in the bottom of your Apple Jacks. In fact, his most recent title win over Alberto Del Rio was so underwhelming that Cena had an embarrassed look on his face.

The Internet seems to think turning him into a bloodthirsty heel is the only logical step. I’m not against this idea, but it still seems too soon.

What I’d like to see is for them to continue down the path they hinted at after his Wrestlemania 22 victory over Triple H. If you don’t remember, Cena stood in the ring after what should have been the biggest win of his career and looked on in shock as boos rained down on him. The expression on his face seemed to say, “What do I have to do to get these people to respect me?”

Cena has amazing matches with Shawn Michaels, CM Punk, Chris Jericho, and others. He gets good-to-great matches out of lunks like Batista and Khali. Yet the fans chant, “You can’t wrestle.”

In a world of selfish athletes Cena signs tons of autographs, set a record for Make-A-Wish visits, and has never had a drug violation. Yet people still hate him.

“What do I have to do to get these people to respect me?”

Here’s how I’d book Wrestlemania, put the Rock over as clean as a sheet on Sunday. Have a win over the Rock become Cena’s white whale. And when Cena finally does achieve his victory, and the fans still don’t give him his due, then you pull the trigger.

Turning Cena heel? Yes, it needs to happen. But let’s test the waters of “Cena’s Hunt for Respect” first.

Here are some more Wrestlemania thoughts…

Undertaker vs. Triple H – Hell in the Cell with Shawn Michaels as Special Referee

Holy crap, this match looks like something I’d doodle on my math worksheet in third grade. Except maybe there’d be a few more tanks and explosions. Anywho, I’m a big believer that the Undertaker’s streak doesn’t ever need to end. I doubt the benefit it would give any talent would eclipse the value in having a special Undertaker match every year. That being said, I do have one idea for breaking the streak that I should write up someday…

CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho – WWE Championship

I don’t care who wins as long as it’s good. Both of these guys are capable of putting on amazing matches, and they’re sure to be motivated by their third-tier placement on the card. But, if you’re going to put a spinning elbow to my head, I’ll say Jericho wins the match and the title so they can continue the feud.

Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus – World Championship

I hate to see Bryan lose the title. He’s doing a fantastic job with it. But, Sheamus is doing a great job on Smackdown, and it’s about time a Royal Rumble winner gets to cash in at Mania.

Team Johnny vs. Team Teddy – Winner Runs Both Shows

Bah…from a storyline perspective I’m sure we’ll see Team Johnny win. All I care about is Dolph Ziggler looking good. He’s the next big thing, I hope they realize it.

Beth Phoenix and Eve Torres vs. Maria Manounous and Kelly Kelly

Maria isn’t really a celebrity, so she doesn’t really need a Wrestlemania win.

Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show – Intercontinental Championship

Cody’s gotten the best of Show in the build-up and he’s about ready to move past the Intercontinental title. Here’s hoping Big Show keeps the cool classic belt around.

Randy Orton vs. Kane

Someone will have to tell me how Randy won after I get out of the bathroom.

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