John Cena hasn't been featured on WWE programming since WrestleMania. It was known for months that he would be taking a hiatus after the grandest stage of them all, but his WWE return was unknown, and fans wanted to know his timetable. Recently, Cena confirmed that he'd be returning to SmackDown Live during the July 4 edition of the show. Apparently, Cena's return can't come soon enough for the powers that be.
WWE officials had a long time to make creative plans, but they could only plan so much for the financial hit the company would take in Cena's absence. A lot of people underestimate his drawing power because he has taken a lot of time away from WWE for commitments in Hollywood over the past few years, but a huge drop in attendance numbers for SmackDown Live have been noted by WWE officials since Wrestlemania 33.
It has been reported that despite dwindling attendance numbers for WWE live events and merchandise, the powers that be are said to be "unconcerned." WWE officials are blaming John Cena's absence for the drop in numbers, and there is a strong belief that his return to the events will provide a huge boost for the summer.
There is no question that John Cena is still the poster boy for WWE. Actually, his role as one of WWE's top guys is more important than it ever was because he's gone mainstream, which is a lot more exposure for the company. He is not Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson or anything, but he's been taking more and more time off from WWE because he continues to find success. The fact is John Cena is still pivotal to WWE's future.
WWE officials could be accurate in assuming there'll be a boost in live events and merchandise when Cena returns to SmackDown Live. The expectation is he will be wrestling through at least WWE Summerslam in August. The boost will be good for a few months, but it shows WWE still has a long-term problem at hand.
John Cena's wrestling career is winding down. It's become clear over the past few years that he doesn't need to wrestle the entire year and every WWE PPV anymore. Frankly, it's a good thing for the product. However, WWE officials need to create new stars to rely on when Cena is on hiatus. Cena's financial contributions to the company should be subsidiary. Cena should be a boost when things are normal, not when they are bad.
It was recently reported that WWE officials were beginning to panic about John Cena's hiatus having a huge negative impact on the company. Shinsuke Nakamura was brought to SmackDown Live to soften the blow, but it wasn't enough to meet the expectations of the powers that be. A lot of people will blame the roster for the drop in numbers. The argument could be made that the current roster didn't step up in Cena's absence.
Of course, that's one way to look at the issue. However, there is always a cool off period after WrestleMania, which is also why WWE officials have not been booking Brock Lesnar on Raw since April. WWE officials are likely just taking the financial hit until the summer months. Cena, Lesnar, and other big stars can return to WWE for the events over the summer. For John Cena, his star power will get SmackDown over the hump.
There is a lot of speculation about Cena working with Jinder Mahal once he returns to WWE television, and his quest to become the first seventeen time WWE Champion in history will continue. That's a natural feud for Cena's return, and WWE's financial numbers will improve. The bigger question is how long the weight of WWE can be put on John Cena's shoulders when there is an entire roster in WWE waiting to do the job.
[Featured Image by WWE]