In an interview with Cheap heat (Going through Fight Inc.), former WWE writer Brian Gewirtz talked about various pitches made to turn John Cena’s heel during his prime, which Vince McMahon brought down. Here are the highlights:
On if there were pitches for a heel turn: “Yes. For sure. There was a time when we all did… We pushed many times to get John to turn his heel, and there was a lot of reasoning inside. [Vince was] tried… but in the end, there was like the merch [sales] and everything John does.
On what Cena told the writers“‘Okay, listen, do you want to turn my heels? If that’s what Vince says you want me to do, I’ll do it. But just know that I will go full boar heel. He was like, ‘There won’t be any of that like, oh, that’s a fun heel, that’s a cool heel, he winks at the audience, heel.’ He’s going to go all out, that’s what he wants to do, which would have been great.
On Vince McMahon rejecting the idea: “I think Vince was like, ‘John is basically the captain of the ship here.’ The questions of who would be [Cena] work with? Who would replace him as top babyface? In [McMahon’s] mind, I think he’s like, ‘I made the right decision because John was the flag bearer.’
On McMahon’s emphasis on Roman Reigns: “[McMahon] was like, ‘I need Roman to be that guy.’ But, Romain is Romain, and Jean is Jean. Two months after the Sufferin’ Succotash [promo], [they wanted] for Roman to tell stories, because I was consulting WWE at the time, and when I saw Sufferin’ Succotash on the script, I was sending flare signals like, ‘No, don’t make him say that .’ But ultimately, yeah, they pulled the trigger on Roman…and he was amazing.