The good and bad of John Cena’s injury


On Tuesday night at a house show event in Wilkes-Barre, PA, WWE’s flagship John Cena appears to have suffered a legitimate leg injury during the tail end of a cage match with former Nexus leader Wade Barrett. You can read various reports of it over at PWTorch, including this one that initially describes the injury and this video of Cena’s speech following the injury.

Depending on how long Cena will have to stay away from the ring due to the injury, the WWE may have a serious issue on their hands. Not only is Cena the WWE’s top draw and biggest name, but he just embarked on what appeared to be an important angle for Monday Night Raw that would serve to carry the top end of the Raw card through Wrestlemania. Without Cena, what will happen to this brewing storyline, and who would step up to fill the void if Cena is out for an extended period of time.

Out for the short term

If Cena is only out for a few weeks, the status quo as of right now should not be significantly disrupted. The WWE has a convenient excuse for pulling Cena from television, given the latest beatdown delivered to him at the hands of CM Punk’s Nexus. An injury can easily be used to excuse Cena from television, and he can even make appearances “via satellite” to maintain the heat as Punk looks to educate the Raw viewers about Cena’s misdeeds. We are not privy to the plans that the WWE had for this feud at the Royal Rumble, but it is possible that this feud was not going to lead to either Punk or Cena winning the Rumble, meaning the current Wrestlemania plans are not in jeopardy even if Cena remains out of action for the PPV. If he can return around the Rumble or soon thereafter, the angle can resume smoothly on television, and the bonus of having Punk’s Nexus help build up heat and perhaps build sympathy for another babyface attack target along the way will help further other storylines heading into Wrestlemania.

Out for the long term

However, if Cena’s injury keeps him out long enough that the WWE will have to abort this angle, there is some good and some bad to be had. Let’s take a look at a few possible points as a result of a long-term loss of Cena.

The WWE still has the Triple H card: Triple H has yet to return, and though it seemed like the WWE as waiting to unveil Hunter sometime around the Rumble in order to finish his grudge match with Sheamus, the booking team could abandon that if they needed a quick, legitimate name to feud with Punk and Nexus. Triple H could immediately step in while Nexus does a rerun of their destructive routine from earlier this summer and be the man to stand against Punk and Nexus heading into Wrestlemania. Essentially, this is the easiest way to prevent the bleeding, as fans would absolutely buy Triple H as a legitimate replacement for Cena in this matter.

Forced to focus on Randy Orton’s character: Randy Orton has been mostly coasting on the fact that he remains over with the fans despite a general confusion as to what his character is doing. Ever since he began his (ridiculously short) quest for the WWE Championship, fans have been confused as to why they are cheering for Orton, though it has not yet prevented them from cheering for him. Though the ovations right now are large, they would be even larger if the WWE were forced to focus on his character and motivations if he were the focal point of Punk and Nexus’ attacks. A focus on Orton as top babyface after months of being overshadowed (even as WWE Champion) by Cena/Nexus would help to get Orton some of his heat back.

Forced to develop a new main event star: Even as John Morrison was pushed with a few excellent matches on TV and at the PPV’s, the WWE seems reluctant to fully back his run to the main event. Based on his last few performances on Raw in his title match buildup with The Miz, the writers may be correct on this one. Morrison still seems to be too relaxed and uncaring to be taken seriously in a main event role, and that may be keeping the WWE from giving him that legitimate opportunity. With Cena out of the picture and the roster lacking depth, Morrison should be next in line for a big push to the title scene if the writers keep the returning Triple H with Sheamus. With the creative forced to push a new main eventer, maybe they’ll rein in some of Morrison’s bad habits on the mic and work on developing his character for the top of the card.

The death of the Punk/Cena feud: Though the angle looked to be taking a more predictable, less intriguing turn with the addition of Nexus, the Punk vs. Cena matchup and feud would have still been a fresh look. Cena and Punk have mostly been kept separate, and a match between the two would have been novel enough to stand out even with the Nexus dragged along with it. If Cena is out for a long period of time, that match is unlikely to happen, and Punk will have to move onto another candidate. The fact that WWE fans will be spared weeks of Nexus attacking Cena is not lamentable in the slightest, but what I will certainly miss is the interesting take on the Cena character the WWE writers could have taken amidst the criticism brought up by Punk on Raw. How would Cena and his fans react to what appeared to be legitimate accusations on the part of Punk? We may not get to find out.

Revenue loss on house shows: The biggest blow, however, to the WWE as a result of Cena’s extended absence will be at house shows, where much of the attendance would have come to watch Cena. Like it or not, he still remains a huge draw, and WWE’s house shows will suffer in all facets without him on board. Earlier this year, Orton headlined a set of Raw house shows opposite Cena/Nexus headlined shows and was trounced thoroughly; he simply is not the draw that Cena is.


The WWE can ultimately capitalize on this injury by being forced out of its comfort level. Rather than depending on Cena and Orton to carry the day through Wrestlemania, it could work on developing a solid, entertaining Miz vs. Morrison feud that can make Miz look credible as WWE Champion and elevate Morrison into the main event stage. It can use this opportunity to revamp Orton and give him the WWE Title chase that he did not receive when feuding with Sheamus. Ultimately, if booked correctly, the WWE can save face by making a star or revamping one with the injury of an established star. Of course, they could also turn to Triple H and take the easy way out, so here’s hoping we do not see Triple H headlining every Raw even after the Rumble.