Friday, August 8, 2014

Reference Points: John Cena and Mitsuharu Misawa

What could Cena have in common with Emerald Destiny?
Photo Credit:
I know what you're thinking right now. Really, I do. What in the world could John Cena have in common with the guy who was unquestionably the ace of maybe the finest era of heavyweight wrestling ever? (If you don't know who the 4 Corners of Heaven are, and why they're so important to how pro wrestling is percieved, get thee to any one of these websites.) The answer is as simple as it is esoteric; Cena has always been made to seem, both by booking and by the way the wrestler carries himself, as the franchise. This isn't a bad thing really.

The reason why I'm recommending you watch Mitsuharu Misawa isn't because I want you to see another wrestler be portrayed as superlatively dominant. It's because Misawa, better than any wrestler I can remember, was brilliant at giving the crowd the belief that his opponents would win. And later, when he was older, he was equally brilliant at portraying himself as the man who wanted to stop being the ace, but could not find a worthy successor for the life of him.

This is the part Cena struggles with. He has been the man in WWE for as long as Misawa played both of those roles I mentioned above. And yet, do you think of him as anything other than invulnerable? Name me, if you can, the last time Cena felt well and truly vulnerable to you, as though he was really and legitimately being threatened with a loss. I'll wait. No, really. Take your time.

I'm not saying this just because of the way Cena and Brock Lesnar are being booked, but some of the best fun that existed for me as a wrestling fan was watching Misawa against the monsters. You could see him almost thinking through the problem in front of him, trying to figure out how much it would take to knock the giant down. Do I think Cena will knock the monster down at SummerSlam? Probably. Will I enjoy seeing him try in the same way I enjoyed seeing Misawa try? That, to be perfectly honest, I'm not so sure about.