John Cena has revealed that Vince McMahon almost turned him heel more than a decade ago.
While John Cena enjoyed his first major run on the main roster as a heel, from 2003 onwards he was positioned as the top babyface in WWE. This is despite him often receiving mixed reactions from the crowd and repeated calls for him to return to the dark side.
This culminated in his now infamous match with Rob Van Damn at ECW One Night Stand in 2006, where the crowd all but staged a revolt. As Cena entered he threw his shirt into the crowd, only to have it repeatedly thrown back at him. This was all against a backdrop of of one particularly huge sign which called for a riot if Cena won.
However, while on the surface it might seem that Vince McMahon would never turn his prized babyface heel, Cena has now revealed that the unthinkable almost happened.
Speaking on the The Pat McAfee Show, Cena admitted that McMahon toyed with the idea of turning him heel during his feud with The Rock in 2011. While the 16-time World Champion was being booed across the country up against WWE’s ultimate babyface, he said he was prepared to do what the WWE Chairman asked.
“I remember Vince toyed with the idea of turning me heel versus The Rock in Miami. I said, ‘No problem, I understand, I’ll do it.’”
Despite the character switch appearing to make sense on paper, Cena broke down how he explained to McMahon that if he turned heel, there would be no going back.
Just remember that we are so deep in at this point that we can’t do it and then jump back because we’ll be sunk at both ends.’ If we do it, I have to be the opposite of virtue, I have to be pure evil and we go all in.’ From a believability standpoint, people always see me in uniform because I want people to know that what they see is someone they can relate to.
In closing, Cena said that although McMahon eventually decided against the change, he has no regrets about how his career to date has panned out.
He decided against it and at that point he said, ‘I don’t think we’re ever going to do it.’ I have the luxury of playing this character, but I always play this character, which is great because it got me to dive into nuances like the Firefly Fun House match where I was like, ‘what if I have a meta experience through all of my flaws, all my timeline,’ and do stuff like that.”
John Cena made his most recent return to WWE at Money In The Bank 2021. At the event, he confronted Roman Reigns which led to a match between the pair at SummerSlam. After being defeated at the summer spectacular, Cena made his final appearance at an episode of SmackDown at Madison Square Garden in September.