Imagine this for a moment: You’re the head of a Billion dollar company that has seen tremendous growth the past few years after ebbs and flows in revenue and popularity over the last decade and half. The billion dollar valuation that you have is a recent accomplishment, built partly on the strength of one particular segment of your company that is worth about 10% of your revenue.
While that segment of your company is extremely profitable and you’re looking to double the size and pull of your company in the near future, you’re getting negative feedback about this lucrative segment of your firm? Do you appease the naysayers and change the segment of your company, risking all that it has afforded you and will continue to bring, or push forward with business as usual knowing that eventually that segment will be appreciated by industry competitors and observers for all that it has done?
If you heard this interview, you can put two and two together. The company is the WWE, and the profitable segment is actually one man: John Cena. Hate him as much as you can, but realize this: Vince has turned professional wrestling into a viable business and with shareholders, his job is to turn a profit as much as possible. (He could lose the company for doing otherwise.) Let’s not forget what Punk, Hogan, and a litany of other stars have made public: Vince McMahon above all else is a savvy businessman who’s looking to draw money. With that in mind, the WWE will always be a company that has the financial bottomline as its predominant priority, so there will be very little in the way of changing Cena’s character so as to ensure that his brand remains highly valuable. Cena will likely never turn heel until the WWE has a new cash king because his brand is too profitable.
With the Cena brand worth $100MM, John Cena is a veritable cash cow for the WWE. Some speculate that the Cena brand is worth less than the quoted $100MM, and according to this, it was worth more as recently as about two years ago. Still, the fact that reputable partners and sponsors believe in the value of the Cena brand makes this figure somewhat credible. Let’s keep in mind that the $100MM worth of the Cena brand isn’t just a huge segment of merchandising sales, it’s also favorable brand impressions, and potential sponsorship deals. Cena’s individual work with heavy-hitting partners like Fruity Pebbles, Gillette, Subway start to paint a picture of his worth to the company. That he can bring such profitable entities aboard speaks volumes to his worth and his value to the WWE. The WWE can pass along this figure (inflated or not) and leverage profitable deals from the strength of their valuation of the Cena brand and the accompanying appropriate placement of him in WWE shows and other forms of WWE media.
With a $100MM brand, Vince is going to wring every penny out of Cena’s character, and with a constantly refreshing, lucrative fan base in young children for the Cena brand, he see no impetus to change things and lose the gobs of money that created by the Cena brand. You can be sure that Cena will remain who he is for at least the next 3-5 years. There’s minimal chance that Vince would do anything that could potentially sour the milk from the cash cow and hurt the $100MM brand. Keeping Cena as a face is literally what’s best for business. It allows him to the do the things outside of the WWE that make his brand so powerful and the buzz that Cena generates for the company trickles into the paychecks of every member of the roster, catering, creative, executive ranks, etc.
To be dreadfully honest, how many of us wouldn’t follow Vince’s path of protecting the $100MM brand loved by sponsors that helps to make the company profitable if we controlled an entity such as WWE? There will be no heel turns for John Cena. The Dr. of Thugonomics will stay retired. Cena will continue to be superman. The WWE will continue to play it safe. This is the reality of the Cena situation, and objectively speaking, those who hate him must learn to accept him as who he is. Things will not change for at least another 3-5 years.