Did you guys hear that WrestleMania was too big for one night? Because I heard it seven hundred times for two nights. During this unusual edition of the grand event -which, honestly, much more bearable in this format- we’ve seen the most outlandish matches and moments in the history of WWE and wrestling in general. Probably what takes the first place prize in this case is the match set between John Cena and “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. An authentic trip through space and time that has questioned what can be performed in a wrestling context and how to keep some kind of sense in the process. Of course this didn’t come without controversy from some people who want to preserve the combat sports aspect of pro wrestling above anything else. But to me there’s nothing that symbolizes pro wrestling like what was broadcasted on April 5th, 2020. And we’re gonna see why up next. John Cena comes out through the Performance Center stage and gives his brief pre-match speech, as per usual. This speech is a welcome to WrestleMania which is interfered by several warped clips of Vince McMahon and Gene Okerlund speaking the same phrase, mixed with warped eerie clips of the phrase “Let me in”. We’re entering not WrestleMania, but Bray Wyatt’s world. In fact, Wyatt starts off by saying “There’s another world that exists beyond our realm of comprehension”. This sentence prepares the spectator to expect the unexpected. We’re going to see, at last, that world. Anyone expecting this to be a normal match was truly oblivious to the mysterious name of the assigned stipulation. “Firefly Funhouse Match”. We’re talking about The Fiend who already has powers over our realm and unusual matches under regular conditions. What could you expect out of a match under undisclosed conditions? Actually, Bray describes this world as one where the darkest aspects of someone are exposed, and where angels, monsters, gods and demons are neighbours. It’s interesting to see how Bray shows the illustration of Anubis, the Egyptian god of death. If I remember correctly the last time we saw Anubis in a Firefly Funhouse segment was Thanksgiving Day, where Bray Wyatt describes Anubis as a reptilian trying to overtake humanity. This shows that Bray’s character takes a lot of inspiration from famous conspiracy theories regarding the human race and the destiny of the world. Behind Wyatt we see the phrase “Abandon all hope ye who exit here”, a reference to the verse “Abandon all hope ye who enter here”, from the Canto 3 of the Divine Comedy. A sentence that, in Dante Alighieri’s magnum opus, is written on the entrance to hell. The Kiddie TV Host says John Cena’s going to come out of that door and face his own worst enemy: Himself. Taking all signs into consideration, John Cena is going to go through his own personal hell. Cena is transported to the Funhouse and walks through the door. Under this darkness and the unsettling ambience sounds I well remember feeling very nervous watching this. Whoever was behind orchestrating the segment did a great job. Behind Cena we see Boss, Vince McMahon’s puppet representation. Boss asks John if he’s ready to do any possible sacrifice to get to the top of this business. The way in which Vince demands this seems to reference the outworldly effort that Cena put into his full time career in the company, giving even his soul for it. In other words, the price of fame. What price did Cena pay to get to where he is? Who did Cena run over to get to where he is? That is what Wyatt had called him out for in the road to this match. In addition, this is also mentioned in John Cena’s episode of the Ruthless Aggression docuseries, which came out earlier this year and is pretty fresh in the minds of the audience. This kicks off the following moment of the match. Bray Wyatt forces Cena to emulate his 2002 SmackDown debut. In the aformentioned documentary John Cena refers to this time as a failure, since his first year in the company was an uneventful disaster that led to him on the verge of being fired. Obviously, Wyatt rubs this on Cena’s face, who can’t even properly replicate his 2002 attack. Bray even mocks this singing Cena’s exfiance Nikki Bella’s entrance theme. Cena can only utter the words “Ruthless Aggression”. I consider this a commentary on the fact that, previous to becoming the Doctor of Basic Thuganomics, John could never develop a personality beyond this small moment. So Bray’s control transports Cena into that mental state. We see the… Uh, special guest commentators of this match, Macho Mercy and Mr. McBossman. A crystal clear reference to the commentary team of Randy Savage and Vince McMahon. This throws us into the ’80s for Saturday Night’s Main Event, the classic WWF show that ran once in a while. Due to this shift in time, we see the old blue steel cage in the foreground to Bray Wyatt, who cuts a very much ironic promo along John Cena. I believe the general gist on this past is to make commentary and satire on the state of pro wrestling in the late ’80s while comparing John Cena to that ideal of muscle wrestler, one that is vain and hollow. Cena shows up lifting weights to an exaggerated pace, so much so that he starts suffering while Wyatt slowly whispers his catchphrase “Let Me In”. John attempts to break free from this sort of mind control and releases the weights, something that Mr. McBossman disapproves of. But it’s all useless, Cena can barely move at all. He’s too drained to keep his arms up and has to watch still seeing Bray Wyatt ask him what is he going to do when he realizes egomania ran wild on him. Cena’s clear suffering can tell us that he’s not even happy with the position he finds himself in. Wyatt shoves Cena into another past moment of his career. John Cena is now the doctor of thuganomics. However, he is NOT the same doctor of the 2000s. Pay close attention to Cena’s attire. It’s exactly the same as what he wore at WrestleMania 35 when he confronted Elias. During that segment John freestyled openly saying he was going to bury Elias’ push because he was the worst wrestling experiment and then F-U’d him. In fact, there are a couple of similarities between that segment and this one. But also pay attention to what Cena’s exaclty wearing. New York Yankees clothing. …New York… Yankees? (CM Punk Moment) The big difference here is that this time there is no one there to cheer for John Cena’s childish insults. Bray calls him out for being a bully who takes other people’s weaknesses and turns them into jokes to stay with the higher momentum. That’s how he turned himself into the star he is today, after all. What Bray is saying, is what Cena did with Elias a year ago. This in turn answers the question that Mr. McBossman did earlier today. What is John Cena ready to do to get to the top? Becoming a corporate shell of a man who runs over other talent to be the #1 guy while selling himself as a hero in the process? And that’s where Bray tells Cena, “You’re not a hero”. Wyatt gives him one more shot at redemption, John tries to attack him but this takes us to the next segment. We’re back to classic cult leader Bray Wyatt. We’re back to 2014. We’re back to WrestleMania XXX. We’re back to the original John Cena vs Bray Wyatt. And there wouldn’t be a vintage Bray Wyatt without a vintage poetic cryptic promo. “I was the color red in a world full of black and white”. Bray was the exception in a sterile world. “I had the whole world in my hands”, Bray’s old catchphrase and at the same time the symbolism to the captivating prospects that were the Wyatt Family at the time. People were on trance with the young wrestler, they wanted to see him triumph. Bray asks him why didn’t he listen to the people, if John Cena was their supposed hero. I consider this question to have a double meaning. At WrestleMania XXX Bray wanted John to abandon his heroic facade to give in to his internal rage, and the crowd was on Bray’s side. At WrestleMania XXX John Cena defeated Bray Wyatt. Why did Cena the character not give in to that internal rage when even the people wanted to see that happen? Why did Cena the person not allow Bray Wyatt the person to go over him when even the people wanted to see that? Because, as Bray Wyatt said in the video package of this match, “John Cena does not care about the future, John Cena cares about John Cena”. Nevertheless, today everything changes. When we return to the ring both Wyatt and Cena are wearing their 2014 civilian attires, and Bray sets John up so that he ends up holding a chair. Bray offers him, then, that one opportunity to redeem himself. To fix the mistake, to rewrite history. And after the mental torture we’ve seen in the last 15 minutes… John Cena gives in to his rage. But Bray vanishes. It doesn’t matter tho. Whether Bray was there or not, it doesn’t matter. John already made his mind, he was going to hit him with the chair. What Kane tried to do in 2012, Wyatt could finally do it in 2020. Hate rose above John. And this lands us on the final segment. We’re at WCW Monday Nitro, or better said, nWo Monday Nitro. Bray Wyatt recreates a promo cut by Eric Bischoff on the December 22nd, 1997 edition of the show. In this episode Bischoff and the new World order dedicated the entire show to champion Hollywood Hulk Hogan, gifting him motorbikes, a limo and two Nitro Girls only for him. Guess who we see dressed up as Hollywood Hogan? Yeah, no surprises here. We also hear Mr. McBossman say the infamous phrase “This is such good shit” which, according to Jon Moxley, was told by Vince when pitching the Germaphobe Dean Ambrose gimmick. This is a post-ironic, maybe even self aware, remark on the situation. This is actually good shit, or is it? We have to remember that John Cena already made a choice. In his heart he is already the villain Wyatt called him out to be. So it’s sensible that he’s now representing the former hero turned villain Hollywood Hulk Hogan. It fits him right because Cena is slowly becoming a Hollywood star in real life. It’s also appropriate because throughout this whole madness, Bray Wyatt subtly presented John’s character as one who sold his soul in order to get to Hollywood. To be a part of… a New world order. Funnily enough, in September of 2012 WWE.com posted an article about old factions that could be revived (Fantasy booking) with modern members. Of course, a parragraph was dedicated to the idea of John Cena leading an encarnation of the nWo alongside Christian and Randy Orton. Lastly, it’d suit him well because next year WrestleMania is taking place in Hollywood. WrestleMania is coming back to the same place it was in 2005. The year where John Cena took that position as face of the company. Maybe in 2021 we’ll see an era going full circle. Back to the match, John doesn’t keep up with the charades anymore and strikes Bray down, assaulting him with violence. We’re shown a montage with people who faced John Cena, not just as a rival but as an institution. The hardcore ECW fans, Edge, Shawn Michaels, The Miz, CM Punk, the Cena Sucks chants. All those elements from the past who tried tumbling down Cena’s ideal as that invincible hero but couldn’t do it in the long run because Cena kept his smile. Maybe today, tho, we’ve seen the last straw. John Cena is back to wearing his current attire and Bray Wyatt turned into Huskis. We know Huskis represents Husky Harris, Bray’s first character a decade ago. John Cena is punching the past away because the present will end up surprising him with a relentless assault. The Fiend caresses his head with the Heal glove, then suffocates Cena with the Hurt glove. Off-voice of the words John Cena said days ago, “This WrestleMania match is set out to do what should have happened six years ago. Ending the existence of the most overhyped, overvalued and overprivileged WWE Superstar”. The difference now being, those words are used against John Cena himself. TV Host Bray Wyatt shows up to do the 3-count and the match ends. The Fiend has won. He’s made justice of his own for himself. He’s made symbolic justice for all the alleged victims of John Cena’s massive push in this century. But this is not the end, especially for John Cena. Psychoanalist Carl Jung once said that the most terryfying thing is to fully accept ourselves. Accepting that side of us we would love to pretend is not there. Jung gave the name “shadow” to that side. I believe Bray Wyatt is toying with those concepts when setting up his rivalries. Finn Bálor, Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, The Miz, and now John Cena. Which is each one’s true self? I think we’re beginning to see them. And I think Goldberg in particular was someone who had no shadow to hide, having come out immaculate out of his showdown with The Fiend. Bray Wyatt’s future is uncertain but exciting, and the same can be said about the disturbed John Cena. In the last few years Cena’s character has had a notorious crisis, to the point where he got desperate against the Undertaker being defeated in the process. To the point where he had to rehash an act from the past to ride over Elias. To the point where his original plan was announcing that he was not taking part in WrestleMania this year instead of just not doing it. Cena during this whole period of time and especially after being defeated and shoved away by people like AJ Styles and Roman Reigns, has been trying to run away from something he wanted to avoid. At WrestleMania 36 Bray Wyatt showed him that which Cena wanted to avoid. His shadow. His worst enemy. John Cena. But this match also shows something bigger than Bray or John. It shows a new field for professional wrestling. It makes us question what can we expect from this business and why, It’s exactly what Bray asked at the beginning of this. “Who we really are, and why do we do the things that we do”. This is a medium that has constantly evolved nonstop since early last century. A medium that should keep evolving constantly and nonstop. After this match we didn’t have to wait long for detractors to undermine it arguing that it was stupid, pointless or that it had nothing to do with wrestling. But, what really is wrestling? There will always be experiments in pro wrestling. There will always be people to cheer for those experiments and people to criticise them. But no matter what I say, what Jim Cornette says or what you say, those experiments will still take place. And time will tell if they’re here to stay or to end in oblivion. And again, it should be that way, This match pushed the boundaries and showed us that possibilities are endless. Because yes, it was a match. It was match set for this card and it happened exactly as it was set: The first Firefly Funhouse Match in history. The first one of his kind. Not everything is black or white in this business; as Bray himself said, he’s the color red in a world full of black and white. This match being a thing doesn’t entail that every wrestling match is going to be like this from now on. Or that pro wrestling as we know it will cease to exist. NJPW will not shut down because two dudes fought in a cemetery. Wrestling is not over because of this match, or Undertaker vsAJ Styles’. However, it is going to make wrestling more diverse and fun than it already is. And that, I welcome with open arms. I’m the Xavster. I’ll see you in the next one.