WWE superstar John Cena is one of the WWE networks biggest draws. Cena has been competing on the WWE and WWF brands since the year 2000 and has been one of wrestling’s top stars since then. At the 2017 Royal Rumble, Cena beat fellow SmackDown star AJ Styles, to tie with Ric Flair’s record 16 world championship wins. There can be little doubt that the WWE needs John Cena, he is hugely popular with the WWE universe. Cena sells tickets, and PPV passes, and yet he is now reduced to the role of “bit-part” WWE competitor.
The WWE universe does not need to be reminded that Cena returned from a lengthy hiatus to win his 16th world title. Cena had some injury absence in early 2016, but it is his TV and movie commitments that keep him out of the ring. Cena has been involved in 17 movie projects, including three during 2017.
Cena recently completed filming The Wall, in which he stars as Staff Sergeant Shane Matthews, a spotter for a U.S. army sniper operating in Iraq. Cena also has roles in Daddy’s Home 2 and Ferdinand, as well as multiple TV roles. The result of those commitments is that Cena is rarely available to compete in WWE wrestling.
According to Sportskeeda, Cena says that his commitments away from the ring are designed to raise the WWE’s profile. Cena also claims that he wants to spend more time in the ring, but his movie commitments forbid it.
“I would do both at the same time, but the movie guys are a little weird with their insurance. They don’t want me to go smashing my face up. I’m excited for all the opportunities outside the WWE ring, only because it raises awareness of the WWE.”
According to Metro, Cena argues that people love WWE wrestling because it is all done in the name of entertainment, and the WWE are the only people who are completely open about wrestling being entertainment.
“Yes, we’re the only folks who will tell you it’s for entertainment.”
“A lot of our methods of entertainment are being adopted by both mainstream sports and mainstream entertainment. If you look at how ESPN has shifted its content, the way shows feature a lot of argumentative debate rather than informative sports reporting, then sport borrows a lot from the WWE.”
Whilst Cena may be spreading the good word about WWE wrestling, the problem that the WWE faces is that his absence, combined with retirements of wrestlers like The Undertaker, means that the WWE’s numbers are in decline.
Can John Cena Save WWE SmackDown?
The reality seems to be that John Cena will only be making rare appearance on WWE SmackDown in the short term. Cena is currently filming The Pact, and is committed with that until the middle of June. That means that Cena won’t be appearing on SmackDown, at least as a competitor, and while he is away SmackDown’s numbers are suffering.
Around the turn of the year, the Blue brand caught up with Monday Night Raw, and on a couple of occasions achieved better viewing figures. According to Forbes, SmackDown is now in the middle of a “major slump,” and they claim that Cena is the only man who can rescue it.
It seems that the WWE have reached out to Cena asking him to make some appearances on SmackDown, even if he is unable to return full-time. SmackDown’s viewing figures are down by 30 percent since the “superstar shakeup,” began immediately after WrestleMania 33. The superstar shakeup was designed to move talent around to maximize new storylines and re-energize both sides of the split.
It may be early days, but if current trends are maintained, the WWE network could be heading for big trouble. Cena may be part of the solution, but he can’t save SmackDown single-handedly. The WWE network is trying desperately to create new and credible storylines. As reported on the WWE website this week, SmackDown set out to escalate “face vs. heel” feuds, with AJ Styles, Sami Zayn, and Randy Orton “leading the charge for the show’s babyfaces.” Kevin Owens, Baron Corbin, and Jinder Mahal, are setting up as the rival heel faction.
Of course, SmackDown needs John Cena, but it also needs its new storylines to gain traction with the fans. Time will tell whether or not the superstar shakeup moves are successful in driving the blue team forward.
[Featured Image by WWE]