The long-running debate over whether John Cena should turn heel has picked up some major steam in recent weeks.
His current program with The Wyatt Family has given Cena the opportunity to morph into an interesting and more complex character.
And it's all thanks to the devilishly maniacal Bray Wyatt.
Wyatt has been a pleasant surprise since WWE figured out he had much more potential and range than his former Husky Harris persona was ever allowed to display.
There's no question that he's got the pedigree. The son of former wrestling star and WWE agent Mike Rotunda (aka IRS), the nephew of former NWA world champion Barry Windham, and the grandson of the legendary Blackjack Mulligan (Bob Windham), the 26-year-old Wyatt (Windham Rotunda) has become one of the more fascinating characters to come down the WWE pike in quite some time.
The premise of his angle with Cena - "the face of WWE" - is fairly simple but highly effective.
Wyatt is a cult leader who wants to cleanse the world of cultural decay and the trappings of modern society. His character, along with those of his cohorts (Luke Harper and Erick Rowan), creates fear. And his fertile recruiting ground just happens to be the squared circle.
With an aura similar to that of The Undertaker, Wyatt combines a menacing grin with cryptic messages. Shrouded in mystique, the dark imagery provides an ideal backdrop for some first-class psychological warfare.
In many ways, the program is as close to "good vs. evil" as can be seen in today's modern version of pro wrestling.
A throwback character, Wyatt is a colorful cross between Jake Roberts and Raven, two masters of ring psychology.
No less than "The Snake" praised Wyatt in a recent Twitter post.
"Love what you are doing," Roberts wrote. "Reminds of someone else I know. Keep it up."
The program between Cena and Wyatt has allowed both performers to utilize their contrasting but strong mic abilities.
Cena is at his best when an emotional issue is involved, and Wyatt's warped but dramatic storytelling has only served to take Cena's game to the next level.
Put a microphone in Wyatt's hand, and folks can't help but listen. Singing a hymn while holding Cena's head in his arms is certainly compelling.
"If you look up at me you will see a friend. If you look down at me you will see an enemy. But if you look me square in the eye you will see a god," Wyatt declares.
Singing the old spiritual "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" while cradling his opponent's head generates instant heat.
"Impressive performance by Bray Wyatt - showing both a sadistic streak and an impressive vocal range," Mick Foley joked on Twitter.
Wyatt's mind games with Cena add an interesting layer to the rivalry.
It also gives WWE the chance to squeeze - if not pull - the trigger on Cena's character.
Full-fledged heel? Probably not. He's too valuable in merchandising and Make-a-Wish appearances.
At the very least, Wyatt could transform Cena into something darker.
Wyatt already has vowed to turn Cena into a monster.
"They've been lying to you, man," says Wyatt. "There ain't no such thing as a hero, not anymore. But you . have become addicted to the illusion of what a hero is. You think you need someone to pat you on the back."
That's the kind of push Cena needs.
The 36-year-old star remains highly marketable, but his act has grown tiresome.
Over the past year others in the company, such as Daniel Bryan and C.M. Punk, have become just as big a draw as Cena. Newer talents, namely Roman Reigns and Antonio Cesaro, are waiting in the wings.
There may be only more big chance to feature Cena in a heelish-type role, and this could be it.
On the flip side, with Bray's ability to captivate the audience, it's only a matter of time before the fans elevate him to major babyface status.
WWE's primary goal now, though, should be to keep Wyatt as sinister and unlikable as possible, and avoid the possibility that the audience hijacks his character and makes him just another "cool" heel.
Lesnar vs. Reigns?
For those looking ahead to next year's Wrestlemania, which will be held March 29 at the brand new Levi's Stadium, the future home of the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif., an early prediction for a possible main event is Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns.
Lesnar ended The Streak at Wrestlemania 30, which automatically places him in an ideal spot to headline next year's show. WWE will build upon his invincible persona over the next year, and he most likely will add Daniel Bryan's WWE world title to his collection.
Reigns, at only 28 years old, has been WWE's most visible breakout star, with some even prematurely branding him the "next Rock."
Whether he comes close to filling the sizable shoes of The Rock (who is a distant relative) remains to be seen, but WWE is high on Reigns and has plans to break him out of The Shield in the near future.
Reigns, whose real name is Leati "Joe"Anoa'i, is the son of Sika of The Wild Samoans and the brother of Matt "Rosey" Anoa'i. Anoa'i was a three-year starter at Georgia Tech where he registered 29 tackles for loss (13th best in school history) and 12 sacks, and was named first-team All-ACC his senior year.
Old School Championship Wrestling returns to the Hanahan Rec Center on May 18.
Main event pits Brandon Paradise against Lodi. Also featured the bill: John Skyler vs. Jaxon James; Brady Pierce vs. Hammer; Nick Kismet vs. BJ Hancock for the OSCW title; and a five-corner match for the IC title.
Bell time is 5 p.m. Doors open at 4:30.
Adult admission is $10; kids 12 and under $5.
For more information, call (843) 743-4800 or visit www.oscwonline.com.
Nature Boy returns
Sixteen-time world heavyweight champion "Nature Boy" Ric Flair is scheduled to make an appearance this week on Monday Night Raw.
Flair's former stable, Evolution, recently reunited, and speculation centers around his possible return to the group as a manager.
Reach Mike Mooneyham at 843-937-5517 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @ByMike Mooneyham and on Facebook at Facebook.com/MikeMooneyham.
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