I really liked the posts about the cut throat environment backstage back then. That HAS to be taken into account. I'll touch on Cena a bit. I like Cena, but I'm going to be really truthful here. The current Cena would be unemployed.
No way Vince would give someone this kind of push back then for this long without giving Hulkamania levels of mainstream attention. I know Cena made buckets of money for WM in the last two years, but it is highly arguable that Attitude Era guys like Rock and Taker were pivotal in helping the buy rates as the rest of the year nothing comes close.
There is also NO WAY guys like HBK would have taken a backseat to Cena either. We saw what happened with Bret Hart who was the traditional white meat babyface in that era who had to turn heel to survive the environment with Austin and HBK.
Someone brought up the 11 minute promo Rock did on Cena as an example of what he wwould encounter and it 100 percent true. 2005 Cena reaction is what would have occurred in the attitude era with Cena IF that was his persona. Guys like JBL and Christian called out his flaws and fans picked up on it. Jericho picked up where Christian left off mocking his rap persona. It got worse when HHH berated him months after that in early 2006.
Now I agreed with the push as a new star wad needed, but that stuff would have destroyed him completely in 1997-98 in there with the likes of HBK, Austin, and Rock imo.
With that said I also believe Cena would be more edgy like he was in 2003 and he would have fit in, but no higher than IC level imo. Would he capitalize on the rap culture better back then? Maybe as Outsiders were obviously mimicking some of That's attitude imo and we saw how over they were.
There would still be the problem with his ringwork though if it was similar to his first title reign. Hart, HBK, Austin, and Taker would be hard on him about improving imo too.
CM Punk currently would not work imo because he wouldn't be allowed to mimick Austin's anti-authority persona. Austin wouldn't allow that ad it's too similar.
CM Punk would have done something though that would work imo since he seems to be a guy patterning some of his persona on shades of grey.
Ziggler would have the same problem with HBK too imo. He probably would be like Billy Gunn which isn't bad as he was over. Saying Ziggler is like Perfect I can see it, but don't forget HBK was around in his prime heel mode or just flat out showstopping. Ziggler can't compete there.
The top guys today imo would be strong midcard to upper midcard. Guys like Lesnar would still be main eventing though. Just think 2000-2 when guys like Angle, Benoit, and Jericho were in that positioning. Then compare their respected heat in 2005 when Cena was on top and it's a pretty good indication.
There was a huge reason why the company shifted gears when Attitude Era fans rejected Cena the company went PG after HHH and HBK put him over at back to back Mania shows.
In today's roster defense Vince McMahon has become WCW corporate wise watering down for business reasons. He is doing exactly what he accused WCW of doing in 1994-5 imo which was doing the same thing over and over again(WCW copying old reliable 80's WWF storylines playing it safe with brand name star power not advancing the product), while being corporate not listening to fans.
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