Brock Lesnar, Triple H, The Undertaker, The Rock, and Chris Jericho appear to have some company in WWE’s part-timer’s club.
According to Daily Wrestling News, 15-time WWE champion and self-proclaimed “face that runs the place” John Cena will significantly cut back his in-ring involvement. After he was drafted to SmackDown Live during the WWE Draft on July 19, Cena was expected to be a top face on the program. He is currently preparing to face fellow SmackDown Live superstar AJ Styles on August 21 at WWE SummerSlam.
“Whoever thinks that RAW is the flagship [show], especially after this pick has been made,” Cena said pointing to himself on Draft Center Live the night he was the seventh overall pick and SmackDown Live’s third overall pick. “They’re in for a rude awakening.”
However, the 39-year-old is set to leave WWE shortly after his SummerSlam bout against Styles to film the second season of FOX’s reality series American Grit. DWN mentions that with Cena gone for an extended stretch, the company has been working on plans for the blue brand that do not involve Cena. The report adds that Cena has been telling people that he views himself as a part-time WWE superstar.
There are currently conflicting reports about Cena being a part of SmackDown Live’s first exclusive pay-per-view Backlash, which is set for September 11 in Richmond, Virginia.
Cena was not advertised for the show and as Wrestlezone noted, he is advertised for a live event in Shanghai, China, the night before. But WWE seemingly addressed his status with a July 30 tweet which emphasizes the whole roster being present.
— WWE (@WWE) July 31, 2016
The current hope among WWE officials is that Cena will be back in time for November’s Survivor Series.
Since last October, however, outside projects and injuries have limited Cena’s involvement with WWE. He left to film the first season of American Grit after losing the United States championship to a returning Alberto Del Rio at Hell in a Cell on October 25. Cena returned on the December 28 edition of RAW, but a shoulder surgery took him out of in-ring competition for several months and prevented him from wrestling in a match at Wrestlemania 32 — the first time a Wrestlemania did not feature a Cena match since Wrestlemania 19.
Cena has starred in movies such as Trainwreck and Sisters; he hosted both the 2016 ESPY Awards and the Teen Choice Awards, and continues to be the WWE’s most recognizable face.
— WWE (@WWE) August 13, 2016
However, as he approaches his 40s and continues to express his desire to wrestle until his body fails him, Cena is poised to maximize his value to WWE. As he stated in a pair of tweets on July 9, Cena will continue to wrestle and dabble with outside projects.
“I have not ‘earned’ a slower schedule, I have ‘earned’ an opportunity to challenge the limits of work capacity,” Cena wrote (Twitter links). “My heart, life’s work, and being has been, is, and will ALWAYS be WWE.”
Since winning his first WWE championship at Wrestlemania 21, Cena has consistently been the WWE’s go-to man. A torn pec in 2007, a broken neck in 2008, a triceps tear in 2013, and a torn rotator cuff have hindered Cena in the past. But in a similar fashion to his heroic on-screen persona, Cena has always trained hard and returned ahead of schedule.
It seems that in exchange for his seemingly subhuman recoveries, Cena will now take lengthier leaves of absence to benefit both his health and value to WWE.
[Image via WWE]