Although a good portion of WWE’s fanbase clamors for John Cena to turn heel, he vows to never cross over to the dark side.
“[It will] never happen,” Cena said in a video (that has been deleted) while training with powerlifter and retired professional wrestler Mark Bell in Sacramento, California. “Oh I’ve got it in me for sure… I do what they tell me, boss.”
Cena then made a $1 bet with Bell that he would never turn heel.
With that being said, fans have been loudly booing Cena for nine years now. Why doesn’t WWE bow to public demand and turn Cena heel to capitalize on the hostility?
One word: money. A Cena heel turn would deter many young children from following the WWE product, which would result in a sharp decline in Cena-related merchandise sales and adversely effect ticket sales, pay-per-view orders and other aspects of the business too.
One could argue that a heel Cena would be far more interesting and versatile than the current version, and that a villainous/cool Cena character would enable WWE to achieve growth in ways that would offset most if not all of the aforementioned decreases. Some have even theorized that the existing Cena character, who dresses like a six-year-old and sells like Spongebob Squarepants, is holding the company back, and a heel Cena could attract a whole new audience to WWE.
However, WWE earns so much money from babyface Cena merchandise (and has done so since 2005) that it is not willing to take the risk of turning him.
If WWE can create another character whose merchandise sells in similar quantities as Cena-related goods, then a Cena heel turn might be feasible – Daniel Bryan could not and it’s too early to tell whether Roman Reigns will be able to. Until that day comes, basic economics dictates that it will not happen.
If it even does.