One of the most infamous professional wrestling “what ifs?” surrounds John Cena’s cancelled heel turn.
After losing to The Rock at WrestleMania 28, Cena was slated to turn to the dark side in the build up for his twice in a lifetime rematch. WWE was so close to pulling the trigger that they even trademarked a new catchphrase for Cena.
Speaking with the We Watch Wrestling Podcast, former WWE writer Matt McCarthy detailed plans the canned storyline.
“Vince kept trying to figure out how do we do like a Bret Hart thing? Where he’s a heel in some places, but he’s a babyface in the rest of the places,” said McCarthy (h/t to @DominicDeAngelo of WrestleZone for the transcription). “Cena was like, ‘If I’m going heel, I want to go full heel.’”
Beyond the aforementioned trademark, McCarthy emphasized the plans were so close to coming to fruition that Cena had updated gear made.
“It did get close enough to the point where, and I’m sure he still has this gear, like Cena had gear made for the heel turn, you know? No longer the jorts,” McCarthy said. “I don’t know what the gear was, but he had specific gear made ready and waiting and then obviously we know it never happened, and there was a point in the discussions where it was like, ‘Well, the people who are gonna cheer him are going to continue to cheer him, and the people who are gonna boo him, are just gonna keep booing him.’ So the thinking was, that’s the most heelish thing he can do is to stay that white meat, smiling, pure babyface.”
Cena himself has spoken on the investment he made into the cancelled character change, where he reportedly spent $5000 on the new gear. After the heel turn was nixed, Cena told the seamstress that he ordered the gear from to use the money for outfits for developmental talents.
Beyond the gear, Cena revealed that he even recorded new theme music for himself, but it was never used.
Even though he wasn’t a full-fledged heel, McCarthy added that Cena knew how to toy with those who were already booing him as a babyface.
“And he was so great at cutting promos and just like sticking it to the people who couldn’t stand him. He was incredible at it,” McCarthy said.