Is John Cena the Model for LeBron James Moving Forward [VIDEO]

John Cena is Vince McMahon’s biggest cash cow, selling merchandise off the racks at a pace only rivaled by Hulk Hogan and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.  When Cena was “forced” to join a group of “heels” (industry term for antagonist) named Nexus, after losing a pay-per-view (PPV) match – sales for Nexus merchandise shot right up.
Yet, if you go to a live WWE event or watch “Monday Night Raw,” the crowd reaction is 50/50.  Little kids yell their heads off for their hero while their parents – particularly fans of the WWE “Attitude” era – boo their lungs out at “The Doctor of Thuganomics” (yes, that’s really one of Cena’s nicknames).
The quintessential John Cena moment was the 2006 “One Night Stand” PPV, where the old-school Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) crowd chanted in unison things such as: “(Expletive) you, Cena,” “You can’t wrestle,” and “Same old (expletive).”
And who can forget the sign held by a fan that stated, “If Cena Wins We Riot.”

Which brings us to LeBron James.  LeBron should embrace the fans’ “hate.”  It’s obvious that being “the bad guy” has improved LBJ’s merchandise sales.  In fact, people ranging from “The Sports Guy” Bill Simmons to WWE Hall of Fame announcer, Jim Ross, have publically compared LeBron’s decision to play with his friends in Miami to the Hulk Hogan “swerve” – in which, the ultimate good guy turned his back on the fans and joined forces with heels Kevin Nash and Scott Hall to form the New World Order (nWo).
There is even a great video parodying LeBron’s “Decision” with Hogan’s nWo swerve:

Fans that grew up looking up to Hogan loved the swerve and nWo merchandise sold out quickly.  Wrestling saw a boost in ratings and revenue, even attracting the attention of the casual fan.
I’m not implying that The King go around disrespecting fans, stop signing autographs, or stop being a charitable man.  You don’t see heel wrestlers like CM Punk or The Miz spitting in people’s faces during their down time.
I’m not suggesting that LeBron whack fan-favorites, Kevin Durant or Derrick Rose, with a steel chair during pre-game warm-ups.
But he could come out to Nas’ “Hate Me Now” during team introductions.  Start a Nike “All Eyes on Me” campaign.  Do another Miami-style “Welcome Party” next season to get under the skin of the haters – to show people that their disdain doesn’t bother him.
It’s tweaking little subtle things – much like wrestlers do to elicit boos from the crowd – that can go a long way in embracing the hate.  Considering the ratings boom, increase in merchandise sales, and general interest “The Decision” has sparked, The King’s acolytes obviously will stand behind their monarch.
The dollar signs don’t lie: “the bad guy” puts asses in the seats.  Fans and haters dig deep into their pockets to witness the bad guy perform on a grand stage.  Sure, it goes against the grain to what a mainstream marketing team would advise him.
But LeBron, much like Commissioner Stern, could learn a lot from the ‘rasslin playbook.  Considering all the anger being hurled at him, it may not be a bad idea to capitalize on the furor to expand the LBJ name brand and make some serious bank.

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