From the WWE Rumor Mill: Bruce Prichard talks about Paul Heyman's objection to John Cena's rap gimmick
Update: Paul Heyman has since denied this story.
What's the story?
During an episode of Something To Wrestle With, the podcast of former WWE manager and producer Bruce Prichard, he spoke about John Cena's first gimmick on the main roster of the WWE and how Paul Heyman didn't think they should go through with it.
In case you didn't know...
In June of 2002, Cena made his main roster debut answering an open challenge of Kurt Angle. To everyone's surprise, the match was amazing with some believable moments when many thought Cena could have pulled off the upset.
A few months later in October, Cena debuted the rap gimmick on a Halloween episode of Smackdown and continued the gimmick until 2008 when the WWE shifted more towards the TV-PG rating.
The heart of the matter
According to Prichard, Heyman put it as bluntly as he could to sum up his feelings on the gimmick overall with the following quote: "You put the rap gimmick on Cena and you will kill John Cena’s career." Heyman was afraid that the character would pigeonhole him and cast stereotypes that would prevent him from reaching the main event level.
The statements from Heyman were most likely in the early stages of the character as Prichard mentioned that Heyman petitioned to not have Cena go through the gimmick, and that his petition was probably the reason Vince gave it the green light.
Prichard ended that segment by saying, "I think it worked alright for him." A little more than a year later, Cena rose to the superstar levels, winning the WWE United States Championship from Big Show at WrestleMania XX in 2004.
After an amazing promo this week on Monday Night Raw, John Cena and Roman Reigns are in the beginning of their first feud ever in the WWE. They will face each other at the next Raw pay per view No Mercy on September 24th.
This will be one of the few times I disagree with Paul Heyman, if Prichard is telling the truth. I say that because Prichard is outspoken at times, and this was over ten years ago, so there is a lot of room for bending of the truth.
As a fan of the WWE, this iteration of Cena was probably my favorite wrestler in the company in 2003 and 2004. It was very entertaining because Cena was edgy and hilarious at the same time.
I definitely see where Heyman is coming from, he was afraid he'd be stuck in comedy angles and never get a serious push. That happened to a lot of wrestlers in that decade (and this), but Cena took the ball, ran with it, and became this generation's Hulk Hogan.