MOONEYHAM COLUMN: Time for Cena to turn heel

A John Cena heel turn could change the landscape of WWE.

It’s not exactly a one-man show, but most fans would have to agree that tonight’s Survivor Series pay-per-view is built around the ring return of The Rock.

Or, more specifically, the relationship and interaction between The Rock and John Cena as they build toward their epic tilt at next year’s Wrestlemania.

Count me among those who strongly believe that there has to be something more than comedy and catch phrases to put this eventual showdown over the top.

To that end, though, one of the two combatants will have to turn heel. With The Rock having long reached iconic status, and the Mania headliner taking place in his backyard of Miami, it may finally be time to do something that WWE has long been unwilling to do.

And that’s turn John Cena heel.

Cena has been the company’s top star and merchandise seller for the past several years, and WWE has rightfully been reluctant to jeopardize that. But if there was ever a time to do it, that time is now and it’s against The Rock.

It could be a slow turn, as has been subtly suggested in recent weeks, or it could happen as soon as tonight’s Survivor Series main event where Cena teams with The Rock against The Miz and R-Truth. The dream team’s opponents are, of course, just a backdrop for the bout.

Detractors argue, not without merit, that a Cena turn could be damaging to the long-term future of WWE. Cena, regarded by many as the hardest-working man in wrestling, is a tremendous company spokesman who is giving of his time and talents. He has been recognized by the Make-A-Wish Foundation for being one of the biggest celebrity wish-granters.

But a turn at this point in Cena’s career could make for a dream storyline with a huge payoff.

The turn wouldn’t have to, nor should it be, a long-term one. Just long enough to ride out Wrestlemania. Cena’s sappy style, popular with the younger set but a turnoff to the older audience, could surely win back his faithful following after box-office records are set for the Miami Mania.

Nearly 45,000 tickets already have been sold, and the show could gross a record-setting $9 million when all is said and done. Opening-weekend numbers of $6.3 million have already surpassed last year’s Westlemania in Atlanta, WWE’s second-biggest gate in history, which took in $6.28 million.

Miami’s Sun Life Stadium seats 75,192 fans for football, and even more for wrestling, so it could be a challenge for WWE to fill the venue.

Putting some big-time heat on the Cena-Rock clash would assure it.

-- “Kaos for The Coach,” a benefit for longtime area football coach Phillip Morgan, will be held tonight at the Goose Creek High School Gym.

The fundraiser features an action-packed night of grappling, Old School Championship Wrestling style, along with a few surprises.

If you’ve never been to an OSCW event, this is a great opportunity. The promotion usually runs shows at the Hanahan Rec Center, but for this event only, it’s moving its operation to the more spacious Goose Creek High gym in anticipation of a larger crowd.

The show will feature a main event pitting The Barbarian and John Skyler against Lodi and “Hollywood” Glenn Lane. Barbarian, Lodi and Lane all have extensive track records in the “bigs,” while Skyler is an ultra-talented youngster with a bright future in the business.

The star of the event, though, will be Coach Morgan, who suffered a debilitating stroke last year. Among his expected entourage at the show will be his old coach, the legendary Bob Biggerstaff, who also coached with and against Morgan in the high school ranks.

Donations, which will be taken at the event, are $25 ringside and $10 general admission. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to Coach Morgan.

Doors open at 5 p.m. Bell time is at 6.

It should be a fun night for a great cause.

-- Former Indianapolis Star sports writer and pro wrestling photographer R. Rathbone “Russ” Leonard has authored a nifty new book on his beloved Chicago Cubs. “My Summer As a Cub” is pure fantasy, since the Cubbies win the World Series, a feat that they haven’t accomplished in 103 years. But Leonard, who has been following the team since 1938, makes it happen in this fictional account.

“A well-written, readable, diary-like account of one season in which the Cubs make it to the post-season and win the World Series after an absence of one hundred-plus years. The book would make an excellent Christmas gift for a Cubs fan and it is well-worth reading twice,” critiqued one diehard Cubs fan.

Leonard also penned a previous volume about the travails of the long-suffering Cubbies titled “Cubbing: Featuring the Curse of the Billy Goat.”

Both books are published by AuthorHouse.

-- “Convict Conditioning” by Paul “Coach” Wade is hyped as the ultimate strength and conditioning book.

It’s also got a very catchy title.

The 304-page book focuses on true strength through body weight movements — without free weights or machines.

Wade, who spent 19 years in maximum-security prisons, including San Quentin State Prison, developed a strength and conditioning program that he says “literally kept me alive” during his incarceration. Wade, who went in as a teenager and spent most of the next 20 years incarcerated in several stretches, has achieved what he teaches.

And while it’s debatable that bodyweight exercises are superior to other forms of training, the book is an excellent guide on how to progress from the easiest exercises to the most advanced.

The book is a must for hardcore workout fanatics and serious bodyweight exercise enthusiasts.

To get your copy of The Convict Conditioning Workout, visit http://www.dragondoor.com/shop-by-department/books/b41/.

-- WWE will visit the North Charleston Coliseum for a Raw house show on Dec. 10.

John Cena, C.M. Punk and Alberto Del Rio will meet in a Triple Threat match for the WWE heavyweight title.

Also featured will be Randy Orton, Wade Barrett, Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston, Evan Bourne and Jack Swagger.

Tickets start at $16. Tickets also are available at the box office or online at Ticketmaster.com. Charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000.