For the past decade, one of the biggest complaints the WWE fans have had was about John Cena being the mega babyface. In a day and age where political correctness is of no significance, John Cena has been the beacon of light - the moral compass that everyone else has been compared to.
While Cena being the yardstick isn’t something that the fans are averse to, the issue lies with Cena being your cliched superhero. There is a reason why most of the comic book fans prefer Batman over Superman, and the same logic can be applied to Cena garnering hatred from certain sections of the audience.
Today, the fans still chant “John Cena sucks”, but it isn’t in the same vein - or with the venom it once was. Not too long ago, the fans couldn’t stand watching Cena perform in the ring. While Cena was popular with certain demographics, there was a vocal section that wanted Cena to be replaced by someone else.
Why WWE never risked turning Cena heel
Much like Hogan, Cena was popular with the kids and the women but wasn’t well received by the 18 - 35 demographic - a key section of the audience for any professional wrestling company. WWE however, could always point to the audience they were catering to - the kids and families.
With WWE going PG, Cena became the flag bearer of the organisation, and WWE couldn’t afford to be losing the majority of their audience by turning Cena heel. Vince McMahon has never been a big proponent of turning or tweaking his mega babyface - although only Cena and Hogan would fall in that category.
Considering that WWE’s product in the 80s was similar to their product from 2008 - 2013. Similar to the 80s, when Hogan became the real life superhero and a role model for the kids, John Cena took the onus of spearheading WWE, reaching out to different markets.
In hindsight, it was always easier for the company to enter the unchartered territories with a toned down product. The reason why WWE captured the imaginations of the fans to begin with, was because of the larger than life characters, and their ability to appeal to the younger audience.
With John Cena at the helm, the shareholders and the audience knew that WWE would put on a family friendly product.
This, in turn, discouraged the WWE management and the creative team to take a chance with Cena. While WWE did toy around with the idea of making Cena a more serious character, the realistic chance of them losing a majority of the audience kept John from turning heel.