Editors' debate: Who should be the face of WWE?
The Authority has thrown their considerable influence behind Randy Orton, but does The Viper deserve to be "the man" in WWE? WWE.com's editors face off with our own choices for who should be at the forefront of a sports-entertainment empire.
Being the face of WWE is about more than having the best match on the card or looking like one of the kids from “The Hunger Games.” It’s about being the representative of a global brand — the walking, talking embodiment of everything WWE symbolizes, from its 50-year history of squared circle excellence to its charitable initiatives, from its movie studio to its international Live Events.
Does that sound like a role for Randy Orton? For The Authority, obviously, it does. For some of the editors on the first floor of WWE HQ, there’s a Straight Edge Superstar, a 7-foot force of nature and even an unpredictable Diva who wears a pair of Chuck Taylors like nobody’s business who should be in that spot.
Read our arguments for who should be the face of WWE, then be sure to make your voice heard by voting in our poll.
Once a generation, a man comes along that changes people’s idea of what a wrestler should be. In the 1950s, the industry was filled with burly carnies clad in wool tights until Gorgeous George infused wrestling with a little glamour. Hulk Hogan helped turn WWE into a rock ‘n’ wrestling extravaganza, matching the excess of the 1980s.
No Superstar reflects today’s culture better than CM Punk. The Straight Edge Superstar grew up in Chicago’s punk music scene, where a do-it-yourself ethic was necessary to get noticed. Punk has applied that DIY mentality to everything he has done since. Heading out across the country to whatever independent wrestling show would book him, he made everyone recognize his talent as one of the best wrestlers in the world. It became a matter of not if, but when CM Punk would become a WWE Superstar.
He made it to WWE and forced his way onto the main roster. When things weren’t quite going his way, Punk made his own destiny by dropping a pipe bomb, winning the WWE Title and walking out on the company. Refusing to bow to corporate suits has made Punk heroic in the eyes of the locker room and the WWE Universe. He returned triumphantly to claim his spot as “Best in the World,” and went on to an epic 434-day reign as WWE Champion. Punk went from the mosh pits of dingy basement shows to the top of sports-entertainment, and he did it on his own terms.
He may be extremely outspoken, he might have a few too many tattoos, but CM Punk is the Superstar that best personifies a changing world. In a climate where the masses are beginning to challenge authority and take matters into their own hands, Punk is the kind of Superstar that WWE needs as its face. — BOBBY MELOK
This isn’t a call for debate on gender bias in the squared circle or a rally cry for the need for strong female role models in sports-entertainment. It’s simply the answer to a question. AJ Lee should be the face of WWE.
Yes, she’d be the first, but isn’t it time? The entirety of pop culture is hinged upon the exploits of young, beautiful, unpredictable women. WWE has one who knows how to execute shiranuis and we’re sitting here bickering over which sweaty dude deserves to be on the red carpet.
Fact is, no Diva has commanded attention quite like AJ Lee. T-shirts, watches, iPhone cases, hoodies, even baby bibs — her likeness is on more products than Yogurt from “Spaceballs.” And we’ve barely scratched the surface on her abilities as a sports-entertainer. Those Shining Wizards, that Black Widow ... she’s like The Great Muta if The Great Muta looked awesome in a pair of cutoffs.
Then she comes out on Raw on Aug. 27, 2013, and cuts the greatest tirade ever delivered by a woman in WWE with the “pipe bombshell” she dropped on the cast of “Total Divas.” You mean she can talk, too? AJ’s already great, and only getting better.
Still, what’s most convincing about her is that even as an in-ring villain, she’s become a role model for legions of young girls. Her retweets of preteens decked out in knee-high Chuck Taylors and strategically shredded T-shirts have revealed the kind of devoted fanbase usually reserved for “The Vampire Diaries” cast members. All #humblebrags aside, no one else on the WWE roster is enjoying this level of hero worship.
Admit it — there’s something very special about AJ Lee. WWE shouldn’t let it skip away. — RYAN MURPHY
If I’m a WWE fan (and I am), I want the face of my fandom to be the kind of Superstar that doesn’t come along too often in this glossy, glorious land of giants. I want a guy who can’t be easily duplicated. I want a guy who gives me something new to watch every week. Granted, there are a lot of Superstars that could fit that bill. But right now, in this very moment in WWE, only one stands out to me in particular, and that is Daniel Bryan.
Yes, he’s kind of a wild goat man with a beard that makes Grizzly Adams look prepubescent, but Bryan’s personality is contagious even — no, especially — when he’s at his most unhinged. Seeing him compete is a display of how good a Superstar can be when they truly apply their mind to their chosen craft. He wrestles like his life depends on it.
This much I will admit: Many of the past “faces” of WWE have been larger-than-life types seemingly chiseled from a block of granite with the strength of 10 men. The truth of the matter is that you don’t need to be 6-foot-whatever and bench-press a metric ton to win a wrestling match, let alone bear the flag for a company. Despite standing at a relatively unassuming 5-foot-10 and topping out just over two bills, Bryan has been kicking heads in for years, and he’s a three-time World Champion in WWE alone.
There are, as with all the great ones, detractors. They have each been silenced. John Cena underestimated Bryan and caught a knee to the face as a receipt. So did Randy Orton and Triple H. Even Shawn Michaels paid the price for waffling on his former student. Respect the beard, yes, but it’s really the man attached to it who deserves the true props.
I’m not going so far as to say he makes WWE special by himself. That’d be ludicrous. But WWE is just better with Daniel Bryan in it, and I can give no higher praise than that. — ANTHONY BENIGNO
Why are we even having this debate?
Randy Orton, the WWE Champion, is the face of WWE. Orton has been hand-picked by the McMahon family to be WWE’s front man and frankly, theirs is the only opinion that matters. WWE is not a democracy. It is a, sometimes, benevolent dictatorship. If The Authority says The Viper should be the face of WWE, who are we to argue with them?
Corporate politics aside, at a powerful and agile 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, Orton is, as JBL says, “what a sports-entertainer would look like if you built one from scratch.” In addition to his political and physical positives, The Viper is a third-generation Superstar whose father was involved in WrestleMania before the event had a number following it.
As a matter of fact, WWE is not doing enough to feature Orton as the face of WWE. He should be RKOing that dinosaur Jay Leno to make room for the new face of “The Tonight Show,” Jimmy Fallon. He should be RKOing bullies at Be a STAR rallies across the country. He should be RKOing everyday Americans at random just so they can take advantage of the Affordable Care Act. That’s the kind of face WWE needs. — JOEY STYLES
No matter how you spin it, John Cena deserves to be the face of WWE.
First, he has enough accolades and titles to fill a dozen trophy cases: 11 WWE Titles, three World Heavyweight Championships, a Money in the Bank contract, two Royal Rumble Match victories and that’s just getting started.
Then, there are the eye-popping figures behind his unmatched connection with the WWE Universe: 17 million Facebook friends, nearly 6 million Twitter followers and, of course, his record 300-plus Make-A-Wish visits and counting, which have earned him the charitable foundation’s Chris Greicius Award and 300th Wish Award.
What about his position as the biggest main event draw on the WWE roster? No other Superstar headlines as many pay-per-view events, sells as much merchandise, draws as many eyes to screens or puts as many butts in seats. When Fruity Pebbles and Capri Sun partnered with WWE to feature a Superstar on millions and millions of their respective product packages, there was only one realistic choice. Not Randy Orton, not Big Show. John. Cena.
Still, it’s not all numbers with the Cenation leader. With charisma to spare and the squared jaw line, herculean muscle mass and unbending morals of a comic-book superhero, he’s the prototypical WWE Superstar. These qualities have propelled Cena to the top of WWE, where he stands as the most vital and influential competitor of all.
Who else could appear on “Live with Kelly and Michael” and Raw on the very same day? Who else has so successfully crossed over into movies, music and even a Kmart clothing line? Who else could be called the face of WWE and the company’s greatest asset?
John Cena isn’t merely the face of WWE. For all intents and purposes, he is WWE. The Champ is here. — JAKE GRATE
The face of WWE has to be more than just a “leading man.” The role demands a larger-than-life persona, a Superstar of pure intimidation whose very presence dares his opponent to take one step into the ring. It requires a charisma that will captivate the world and a longstanding history to support his legitimacy. In short, the face of WWE must be The World’s Largest Athlete, Big Show.
Associated with the company since 1999, the former WWE and World Heavyweight Champion is one of only three Superstars to hold every active title in WWE. And even if he hadn’t captured a single one of them, there isn’t a grappler in his right mind who wouldn’t think twice before going head-to-head with this gigantic force of nature.
By their own admission, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon view Big Show as a locker room leader. Ironically, it is that quality that has made him one of the largest points of opposition to The Authority’s rule. Big Show has also proven his leadership to the community at large, taking giant steps beyond the squared circle to represent WWE as a spokesman and dignitary from Be a STAR rallies to the bold new Hire Heroes initiative.
The colossal competitor’s ability to entertain is simply enormous, as he has tackled a number of television and film roles from USA shows like “Royal Pains” and “Burn Notice” to feature films like “Knucklehead” and “The Waterboy.”
It goes without saying that, before the bell even rings to begin any number of his historic matches, the WWE Universe will clamor just to get a look at WWE’s honest-to-God giant. He is a true attraction that makes both the crowd and the locker room stand up and take notice. He is the face of WWE. — MICHAEL BURDICK