On June 18, Smackdown will be having the Money in the Bank event, which will feature the eponymous match where one superstar will win a contract for a WWE Championship match at any time and place. Several superstars will be competing at the show, but one who may not be there is John Cena.
The former 16-time World Champion is expected to take time off from the WWE after Wrestlemania 33, though it is unclear just how long he will be absent. He is not advertised for any of Smackdown’s events the week after Wrestlemania 33, and he is also noticeably absent from any advertising for Money in the Bank, which will take place at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri.
If WWE is choosing not to advertise Cena, then there is a very good chance that he will be absent. The man is one of WWE’s biggest draws. His return to Smackdown in December after a short hiatus was advertised, and that episode drew 2.885 million viewers. That week, Smackdown beat Raw in the ratings, as the latter drawing 2.855 million viewers.
In fact, Cena was drafted to Smackdown to boost its ratings after the brand split. Cena, who has been a Raw cornerstone since being drafted there in 2005, is one of the biggest stars in the WWE today. With the brand split implemented to draw viewers to Smackdown, WWE put Cena on there to get some eyes on the brand.
Unless Cena and WWE are planning a surprise return, it is safe to assume that Money in the Bank will proceed without him. Cena has been a mainstay of the event. His match with CM Punk at Money in the Bank in 2011 was a modern classic, praised by many for its skill and story. This was also the start of the infamous “Summer of Punk” in 2011, which helped draw back many lapsed viewers to the product. In 2012, Cena won the “Money in the Bank” contract but failed to successfully cash it in against WWE champion CM Punk. The next year Cena defended the WWE Championship against Mark Henry. In 2014, Daniel Bryan had to vacate the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, and Cena emerged victorious with the championship at the event before losing to Brock Lesnar at Summerslam in a squash match. In 2015, John Cena took on Kevin Owens, while in 2016, Cena lost to AJ Styles after interference from Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. This will be the first Money in the Bank event to not feature Cena on the card if he will not be present.
Barring recovery from injury, this is not the first extended break Cena has taken. Just last year, Cena was absent from August to November. He disappeared after losing to AJ Styles at Summerslam and was not featured on the card for the September event Backlash. He returned on September 13 and challenged Styles to a match for the WWE Championship before Dean Ambrose interrupted. The match was turned into a triple-threat for No Mercy where Styles retained. Cena took a hiatus again, missing Survivor Series and Tables, Ladders, and Chairs.
In his absence, the main event scene was carried by Styles and Ambrose, who continued to feud over the WWE Championship. James Ellsworth also got involved, costing Ambrose the match at Tables, Ladders, and Chairs and challenging Styles to a match for the Championship. Ellsworth lost in 45 seconds, and Styles retained.
Cena would return to dethrone Styles at Royal Rumble before losing the championship two weeks later inside the “Elimination Chamber” to Bray Wyatt. He also lost again to Wyatt in a triple-threat with Styles. At Wrestlemania 33 there are rumors that Cena is to fight alongside Nikki Bella against the Miz and Maryse.
If Cena is indeed to be absent, he will be missed, but Smackdown will find a way to plug the hole.
[Featured Image by WWE]