It’s rare for WWE to recruit a mainstream celebrity so reviled that the general public thinks the wrestling organization is lowering its standards by associating itself with such riff-raff.
Prepare to take a trip back to the alien world of 2006, when John Cena was still cheered by some adult males, and being married to Britney Spears entitled one to celebrity status.
The subject of today’s induction began when Johnny Nitro and Melina promised to introduce the Raw fans to a friend of theirs, who they promised was a Hollywood A-lister.
When the big reveal came, instead of an A-lister in the eyes of the movie industry, we got this B-lister on the B-utt Cheek of the music industry.
That would be Kevin Federline, who at the time was famous for marrying Britney Spears…
…then became famous for having once been famous…
…before finally not being famous even for that. Unlike if a Clooney or a DiCaprio walked out to a custom Titantron video, the announcers’ response to Federline was underwhelming. JR humored the celebrity, reacting to Kevin Federline arriving on Raw with the same feigned astonishment as you might give when someone tells you the female gibbon gestates for seven months.
Still, as big a letdown as the arrival of K-Fed was, it seemed only fitting that two-thirds of MNM would be pals with a rapper two-thirds-of-a-percent as talented as Eminem.
And speaking of letdowns, K-Fed’s perpetually sagging trousers led him to constantly grab at his crotch throughout his promo.
K-Fed went into full heel-mode before announcing that he would be previewing a track from his upcoming album, Playing With Fire (which the fans booed), only to change his mind and not play any of his music for the fans (which the fans also booed for some reason).
Before he, Nitro, and Melina could split…
…John Cena came to the rescue of the segment by cutting one of his long-retired raps on the heels…
…then giving him the AA to adjust his attitude.
The next week, K-Fed came back to Raw seeking payback, much like the people sure to be returning his CD to their record store in the coming weeks.
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This time, King Booker came out to lend his support to Federline, calling his new CD “a treasure” and proving that old maxim about one man’s trash before declaring that, and I quote, “You, Kevin Federline, is a trendsetter.”
The idea that K-Fed is (or are?) a trendsetter is questionable, just like Booker T’s membership in the African-American race after praising his rap album, according to Cena.
Fortunately, blackness expert Ron Simmons wandered onto the stage to back Cena up in the first occurrence of his long-running gag.
Later in the show, Federline slapped Cena across the face, which proved nearly as painful as John Hennigan speaking that jive-talk all the rap singers used.
The next week on Raw, on the eve of K-Fed’s CD release, there was no Federline to be found (not that anyone was looking for him), and it appeared that the worst rap-and-wrestling crossover since Master P and The No-Limit Soldiers was over.
Then came Cyber Sunday, where Cena battled the company’s two other “world champions” for Booker T’s title.
Out of the blue, Federline ran in and smashed John Cena in the back with the Big Gold Belt.
It was wise for WWE not to have K-Fed directly cost Cena the match with his belt-shot, but merely cause a distraction so that an actual superstar like Booker T could knock out the Champ with the gold. After all, it would have made the champion look weak to get knocked out by a skinny, no-talent rapper, although it wouldn’t have been as embarrassing as jobbing to the guy.
But I’m getting a head of myself.
The next night, a very cocky and bobble-headed K-Fed issued a pre-taped challenge to the WWE Champion for the first Raw of 2007. All in all, it was a good week to be K-Fed, ignoring the fact that his CD had sold only six thousand copies (a far cry from the half a million he had predicted), or that his wife would file for divorce the next day. She must have been a loyal member of the Cenation or something.
Fast forward to January 1st, 2007 (although, if you had a fast-forward button, you certainly would have skipped over Kevin Federline’s first three appearances on Raw). John Cena was to finally wrestle K-Fed — or should I say, “Kevin Federline.” See, the rapper had recently shed his nickname, requiring anyone with an ounce of respect for the former dancer to call him by his birth name.
So anyway, K-Fed was going to wrestle Cena in a non-title match, but acting GM Jonathan Coachman added a no-DQ stipulation to the bout at the last minute…
…allowing Johnny Nitro to come to ringside and, no doubt, interfere at will.
First, Johnny helped K-Fed stall and stall, fitting him with mouthguard and gloves, to which Cena responded with that “WTF” look you can only get by saying, “WTF.”
Then, Nitro equipped K-Fed with headgear, further testing Cena’s patience.
Finally, K-Fed shed his robe, revealing the same stupid long shirt/saggy pants combo he always wore.
K-Fed slapped on a free headlock to no avail…
…then challenged Cena to a Master Lock Challenge…
…which irked The Champ to no end.
Federline applied a cross arm-breaker…
…only to get sat down in the corner like one of the many small children he had fathered in recent years.
After Nitro inevitably interfered…
…K-Fed kicked Cena in the groin…
…prompting Cena to try to stop the nonsense and end the match.
Just then, Umaga, who would face Cena at the next PPV, ran in. A shot with the title belt later and Cena looked to be down for the count. Fortunately, there was one last-ditch tactic that could win the match for the champ and let him and the company avoid the embarrassment of losing to the lowest of bottom-of-the-barrel non-athlete celebrities!
Unfortunately, whatever that last-ditch tactic was, Cena didn’t use it, and he lost 1-2-3 to Kevin Federline.
To put that travesty in perspective, even David Arquette never actually pinned WCW’s champion; he won his world title by pinning Eric Bischoff in a kooky tag match.
Or think of it this way — during Cena’s historic 13-month title reign, only three people pinned him in one-on-one matches: one was Shawn Michaels, who beat Cena in an hour-long Match of the Year winner, and another was Kevin Federline, who beat Cena in a five-minute opener. (The last one was Carlito, whom John had taunted by saying that the last time he beat Cena, Britney Spears was hot)
Later that night, though, Cena got the last laugh in their rivalry, delivering the FU to Kevin Federline, which, as you may recall, is also how he got the first laugh in their rivalry. All it took was two-and-a-half months and a pinfall loss to a celebrity to get Cena back to the exact same place he was in the very first segment of the feud.
What a payoff!
And all of this promotion did little to help K-Fed’s record sales; Playing With Fire went on to sell 16,000 copies. For comparison, John Cena’s own rap CD has sold 1.3 million to date…
…and was once checked out and renewed nine times in a row by the same Indianapolis library patron.