Does John Cena need to revive the thug to defeat the freak?

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April 27, 2012

"I don't even know who the hell this John Cena is." – Edge

Those words echoed throughout Joe Louis Arena on Monday's Raw SuperShow. They elicited "oohs" from stunned members of the WWE Universe. And they just may have brought back the most dangerous version of the Cenation leader we've seen in a long time.

Cena was left to feel the weight of Edge's passionate pep talk for more than two hours before it came time for the Extreme Rules Match contract signing with Brock Lesnar. When Cena solemnly approached the ring, keen observers noticed there was something different about the 10-time WWE Champion. It wasn't new merchandise or anything he said. In fact, he didn't utter a single word to Brock.

It was the return of his signature lock and chain.

As Cena signed the contract with a pen in one hand, he had that familiar chain tightly wrapped around his other. The destructive weapon that once laid out elite competitors such as Eddie Guerrero, Big Show and Lesnar, too, was back in the clutches of the man formerly known as The Chain Gang Soldier.

Was this the John Cena that Edge remembered? The Cena that carried a win-by-any-means-necessary attitude into every one of his battles?

Cena knows he's heading into Extreme Rules as the underdog. He's admitted to his fear on more than one occasion. However, he also knows how desperately he needs a victory on Sunday. By reaching for the lock and chain, Cena might be coming to terms with the fact that he can't conquer Brock on sheer talent alone. It could take some old-school Thuganomics to beat the odds against a physical freak like Lesnar, especially in a match where there will be no disqualifications and no count-outs.

There was a time in Cena's career where he didn't hesitate using that steel chain whenever he smelled an opportunity to do so (VIDEOS). The chain became Cena's great equalizer, brutalizing opponents who had to always be on guard for the extra element of surprise. Now, with his back against the wall and the future of WWE hanging in the balance due to Brock's outrageous contract demands, Cena could be forced to awaken the "thug" in him to stop Lesnar from running wild over what he loves most in this world.

Maybe a stern message from The Master Manipulator was what Cena needed all along. On Sunday night at Extreme Rules, will Cena heed Edge's call and unleash ruthless aggression to shock Lesnar? Or is he just going to wind up the first victim in Brock's fearsome quest to take over WWE?

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