John Cena is arguably the WWE’s prime asset. Sixteen-time world champion Cena has been a mainstay on the WWE network since 2002, and is promoted as “the face who runs the place.” The problem is that Cena is rarely available to do the job he is paid for, and rumors are suggesting that the WWE is not impressed with Cena’s lack of availability. Over the past couple of years, Cena’s movie, TV, and presenting work has kept him out of the squared circle for long periods.
During 2016, Cena built up a strong rivalry with AJ Styles, but then Cena went on hiatus, leaving Styles to carry SmackDown Live almost single-handedly. When Cena returned, many fans were upset when he was immediately handed a world title bout at the 2017 Royal Rumble. History tells us that Cena took Styles’ title at the February PPV event, but he then disappeared again after losing the title to Bray Wyatt at the Elimination Chamber PPV just weeks later.
Wrestling fans will be aware that Cena’s disappearance led to him being used in a low-key tag match at WrestleMania 33 in Orlando. Cena partnered his real-life partner, Nikki Bella, to defeat The Miz and Maryse at WrestleMania, but he has been absent from the WWE network ever since.
According to the Richest, Cena has built a net worth of over $55 million from his wrestling career. According to Forbes, Cena is believed to have earned over $8 million from WWE wrestling in 2016. This, despite the fact that Cena competed in just five PPV events, headlined none of those, and had over five months out with an injury. It is claimed that Cena was the WWE’s second-highest earner, and the WWE can ill afford to have its biggest earning stars absent from the ring.
The WWE is losing viewers — numbers seem to drop on a weekly basis — and the recent Backlash PPV won’t have done much to cheer up the accountants. Forbes suggests that the WWE’s patience may have run out, and they may be preparing for life after John Cena.
John Cena Is Set To Return To SmackDown, But Could He Be Dropped?
Cena has recently teased his return to SmackDown Live. According to Bleacher Report, Cena will return on July 4 to challenge Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship. That match would make sense as the WWE builds toward Money in the Bank and the 2017 SummerSlam. Some fans will doubtless be dismayed if Cena returns straight into another world championship tilt and the potential to eclipse Ric Flair’s record of 16 world championship wins.
Cena’s relegation to a bit-part player at WrestleMania 33 may have been the first sign that the WWE has lost patience with Cena. As was widely reported at the time, it had been widely presumed that Cena would face the Undertaker in a headline match at WrestleMania. Vince McMahon reportedly went cold on that match and drafted in Roman Reigns to retire the Deadman.
As reported by Wrestling Inc. rumors, that Cena doesn’t figure highly in the WWE’s plans began to take root after he was cut from the new SmackDown introduction video.
The fact that the WWE has refused to promote Cena’s movie or TV roles may be a sign that the company’s patience has been exhausted. Cena has consistently stated that he is committed to the WWE for the long haul, but he has had at least five lengthy absences over the past two years. The blue brand simply cannot afford to have Cena absent at a time when viewing figures are plummeting.
The absence of Brock Lesnar and the recent injury to Braun Strowman are also hurting viewing figures. Cena continues to be a huge draw and shifts a lot of merchandise, but the WWE network needs him performing in the ring.
SmackDown is being badly hurt by Cena’s absence, though their misuse of AJ Styles probably isn’t helping. Just 12 months ago, who would have predicted that Styles would be losing to low-card stars like Dolph Ziggler?
It seems certain that John Cena will return to SmackDown, and his return will build toward the SummerSlam PPV. It would take a brave man to bet against Cena claiming a 17th world title at SummerSlam, but his future beyond that it much more difficult to predict.
[Featured Image by WWE]