While John Cena has spent the past couple of years transitioning from wrestler to movie star, WWE has potentially helped his acting career with his feud with The Fiend. The last segment of Smackdown is proof as to why.
In the last promo of the go-home edition of Smackdown before WrestleMania, John Cena accepted Bray Wyatt’s challenge to a Firefly Fun House match even though no one knows what a Firefly Fun House match is supposed to be.
The always confident and fearless Cena picked apart The Fiend with his classic jokes to show that he was not afraid. “The overfed sex-child of Wiz Khalifa and the WB frog” is a belly-laugh take-down worthy of the Doctor of Thuganomics-era Cena.
With the challenge being accepted, everyone knew that this final show before WrestleMania wouldn’t end with a wild message from Wyatt, and that’s precisely what happened. But instead of Wyatt coming out to confront Cena, his friends from the Firefly Fun House made a rare appearance outside of their home and near the WWE ring.
One of the few benefits of filming a WWE episode in an empty arena is having the freedom to do outside-the-box creativity, and they did that to a tee. The creepy cradle music that’s a staple of horror movies came on immediately. Suddenly, the puppet Ramblin Rabbit, the same puppet who was put through a blender and drank by Wyatt, popped up from the audience and told Cena that “after The Fiend is done with you you’re gonna play with us forever!”
Rabbit repeated the line “Forever” a la the twins from The Shining and his fellow puppets Huskus the Pig, Abby the Witch and Mercy the Buzzard joined him. Suddenly the music stopped, and Rabbit reveals that “he’s here.” The lights go off and come back on, and The Fiend stands on a platform in the distance with a red light on him, staring back at Cena. It seems that the show will close on the stare, but as the music tenses up, Wyatt, without his mask, appears behind Cena and drops his signature line, “Let me in.” The lights go off again, and neither Wyatt, The Fiend, or the puppets are anywhere to be seen.
This was a great horror segment for Smackdown. Unlike typical WWE shows where there are thousands of people in attendance, Cena is all alone in the middle of the ring (although Michael Cole is probably still at his announcer desk). Even though fans know it was taped in advance and a stand-in may have worn The Fiend’s mask, they presented proof that Bray Wyatt and The Fiend are two separate entities even though everyone knows they are the Jekyll and Hyde of the WWE.
WWE is an entertainment business, and its usage of gimmicks inspired by the horror genre has worked to great success. The Undertaker is the gold standard of a horror-inspired gimmick that eventually evolved into the most beloved character in WWE. There are also genuinely creepy characters like Kane, Mankind and The Boogeyman who kept the audience glued to the screen despite how terrifying they are. Bray Wyatt kept that tradition alive in the mid-2010s, but his new Fiend gimmick has taken it to another level.
For the fans who didn’t care for Wyatt and Cena’s WrestleMania XXX match and their subsequent matches in 2014, whatever this Firefly Fun House match turns out to be will be a great alternative to the standard WWE match. The best-case scenario is that both benefit from this experience with Wyatt winning and gaining back momentum he lost when losing the WWE Universal Championship to Goldberg. For Cena, this could be his chance to join a major horror movie franchise to go along with an impressive resume of Hollywood blockbusters he’s been apart of in recent years. This Firefly Fun House match may just be his unofficial audition for one.
John Cena acceptance of The Fiend's challenge to a Firefly Fun House match may be WWE's scariest moment to date.