Times are hard. Ratings are down for every WWE show, profitablitity and revenue have plateaued as the company has begun to run out of new avenues to pump money out of, and the product has grown stagnant and lacks true stars more than any time in recent memory. At a recent board meeting, very serious men and women in business suits sat around a big oak table and tried to make the hard decisions that would steer the company in a better direction. They slashed budgets, they diversified further, and the massaged the books just enough that they should be able to turn a profit for the upcoming quarter, but at the last second a clerk ran in and told them that they were $700,000 short. This is a very serious issue. Without a number in the block, investors will begin to lose faith and sell their stock, beginning a downward trend that will be hard to come out of. You now have to immediately come up with a way to cut this money and, looking at the budget, you see that by far the easiest way is to cut a major top level talent. With a heavy heart, and a sense of dread, you look at the list below and attempt to answer the question…
The coin toss dictates that Badger will go first.
Firing someone is never a nice thing to do, but being the boss you have to make the tough decision and put the company’s interests first or do what’s “best for business” as HHH and Steph like to say. Looking at the list provided, there is one name that jumps straight out at me. I hear voices in my head, they counsel me, they understand, they talk to me. These voices are telling to me to fire if you haven’t guessed by now….
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A blue-chipper athlete back when he debuted in 2002 after coming over from OVW and a third-generation star, Randy looked like he had it all but despite his 13 world title reigns, things have never run smoothly for the Viper. A recurring shoulder injury that dates back all the way to 2003 which still bothers him to the point he missed 9 months from 2015-2016. At 37 years old he isn’t getting any younger so his shoulder could give out at any time and he does himself even more damage. He’s also been suspended twice under the wellness violation policy so was on a tightrope even back in 2012. He has a volatile temper and never really been the easiest to work with. He has never really changed up his character in a long time too and cuts virtually the same robotic promo during his feuds. Rather than repackage a temperamental, injury-torn 37 year old, invest his freed up salary package on younger deserving talent.
Seth’s greatest WWE champion is my pick
While perhaps unexpected, there’s three reasons why Cena is the right choice.
1. Halfway gone already
2. Booking is stuck
3. Company Man
The oldest choice on the list, Cena is already transitioning into life post-wrestling. Movie star and TV host, one foot is already out the door. Multi-month hiatus’s have become the norm. He’s the only individual on the list who’s set to regularly be paid NOT be there half the year. Not an efficient use of funds, not a good value.
Next, WWE has booked themselves into a corner. His cartoonish booking over a decade can’t be reversed adequately as a part-timer. John wins? It’s “Super Cena buries a guy again”. John Loses? “Eh, it’s only cause he’s a part-timer”, minimizing the rub. No worth in him going over, and stunted worth with him doing the job, leads to poor booking value.
Finally, there’s the best thing about John; he is a company man. He knows and loves the business. Everything I’m saying? John Cena understands. He gets he’s on the way out and the rest of the list have a future with WWE. This isn’t a split leading to talent going to another company, trashing you in the media, or never making an appearance again. There’s no bridge being burnt here. You get rid of a full time salary for a part time employee while maintaining the potential for jointly beneficial opportunities in the future. That is value.
While it has been noted that Cena is wrestling less and doing outside projects, I think at this point he is still too much of a valuable commodity to be let go completely. He can still work house shows from time to time and is set to work house shows in December. There is his Make-a-Wish work which is for a worthy cause while generating great publicity for WWE. His various media appearances on news and talk shows also can bring in outside interest, Tribute to the Troops, a star with crossover appeal which WWE really lacks otherwise with ratings dwindling on both shows.
Also they could still give him that 17th world title reign to break Flair’s record which would be a historic moment while also doing wonders for the guy that beats him. Matches like Cena/Balor haven’t been explored yet. The “Super Cena” hate from the past isn’t really strong anymore. He’s still worth a healthy salary keeping him on the books in some capacity. As you say he’s a good company man.
Orton on the other hand is too much of a liabilty. He and Cena both started around the same time but Orton has not nearly had an impact that Cena has. His nagging shoulder, his lack of character diversity, suspensions, not the company man Cena is, doesn’t generate much outside interest. He also lost to Rusev recently in 9 seconds so would take building back up.
Cena still has worth, Orton not so much.
“Keep paying your most expensive contract because he can work the occasional house show” is hardly a compelling point.
On the surface, the cross-over appeal argument appears sound; but it fails once you look deeper. Whether Cena is employed or not isn’t going to change that he’s viewed as a Wrestler. It took the Rock years to adequately transition to Dwayne Johnson and for people to not immediately think “Wrestler” when seeing him. The only difference in terms of “cross-over” appeal is now every time Cena hosts a show or stars in a movie the defacto advertising the WWE gets would be free.
The fantasy booking is just that: fantasy. Sure, there’s potential storylines for Cena. However, as a part timer, the amount they could actually pull off would be limited. Plus, how much rub would Cena really give?
In recent years, his entertaining feuds where the other side came out well? They’ve been with guys like KO and AJ, wrestlers who’ve shown they’re perfectly capable of being over no matter who they’re working with. Meanwhile, guys like Rusev or Cobin were duds coming off their Cena programs. Hell, the Miz’s red hot run actually swooned as the Cena/Bella feud drug on, only for him to catch fire again once separate from John.
Orton provides value employed, and a liability if let go. Cena’s value while employed does not warrant his cost, while providing free value to the WWE even if fired. “Part Time” John is the right choice.
The house show point was just one of a plethora of points I made, but nonetheless still a valid point. It was to prove that WWE still sees value in him. House show revenue is important too and he’s working three in the month of December. Let’s not forget merchandise sales either. He’s one of the top merchandise sellers of all time and advertising his appearances hawking his merchandise will only help with parents buying his stuff for their kids.
“Free publicity” isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It will bring more eyeballs to WWE every time they get mentioned on all the news media. You can’t say that about many others, ceetainly not Orton. So what if people still think “wrestler” about Rock or Cena. Rock doesn’t hide it and still shows up now and again. Mutually beneficial to him and WWE.
You’re cherrypicking with Rusev/Cena/Miz. Rusev’s generally been booked strangely lately and they’ve separated him and Lana, Corbin and WWE seem to have internal problems with the concussion lawsuit and Miz’s promo work was still entertaining so he wasn’t slowed down much. He’s not got the shovel these days like you say he does and even put over Roman in a big way lately.
You’ve said nothing as to how Orton can still provide value. He’s been excused for his many indiscretions over the years. He’s not helped Smackdown’s falling ratings. He’s an injury risk. He’s not the ambassador Cena is. His time is up not now.
Appreciate you agreeing with me. Free Publicity IS good. Free, not $2.7 million.
Now let’s look at your Orton issues by focusing on the value of keeping him, and the harm of letting him go.
The WWE needs guys like Orton; a legitimate star with a track-record who’s booking history actually allows believable unpredictability in his angle’s conclusions. His “out-of-nowhere” act allows him to always be a threat when needed. He provides value, especially with a salary $1 mil less than the part-timer.
But say you let him go. You say he’s temperamental? You want that trait in a guy you set loose due to FINANCIAL reasons? Inevitably winding up in interviews saying how WWE slaps his wrist for drugs but got rid of him for cost-cutting reasons after he got clean? In today’s concussion climate, you want a “volatile temper” out there talking about how the champ stiffed him, leading to 10 staples in his head? With no other job options, you don’t think Orton shows up on GFW, New Japan, or other competitor? If they’re bad traits in an employee, they’re worse in someone you just let go.
You echo my argument about Cena’s value post firing. Your critiques of Orton highlight why you don’t want him disgruntled. You had no justification for paying Cena to spend as much time on the Today Show as Raw.
I’m thinking your picking of Randy just helped him have a hand in the killing of another Legend.