Forecasting John Cena’s Future In WWE


John Cena is the greatest WWE superstar of the last 15 years when you consider his accolades in the ring, the amount of merchandise he has sold and the 15 WWE World Heavyweight Championships he won along with his many other accomplishments.

It could be argued that John Cena today, at age 39, may be better in the ring than he’s ever been. After all, we just saw him have a match of the year contender with the great AJ Styles at SummerSlam. It was an incredible performance from both guys with a finish that doesn’t happen too often as Cena lost clean.

Even though he may be better than ever, he’s also wrestling a lot less than he used to. Cena wasn’t even on this week’s episode of Smackdown, even though he did appear in a dark match segment after the cameras stopped rolling.

He spent the first half of the year rehabbing from shoulder surgery. Since he’s been back ,he has only worked a limited house show (or live events) schedule. Part of it is because he’s getting older, so there are natural concerns about injuries and the other part is that he’s really busy doing outside projects.

Last year he got a lot of attention for his great work in the Amy Schumer led film Trainwreck as Cena played a boyfriend that had some really funny moments, especially in the movie theater. He was also in the Amy Poehler & Tina film Sisters although that one didn’t get as much attention. In addition to the movies, he’s had some high-profile TV hosting gigs with the ESPY Awards and Teen Choice Awards earlier this summer as well as the Fox TV show American Grit earlier this year. Don’t forget about that multi-million dollar deal to star in those Hefty garbage bag commercials either.

Despite American Grit not doing very well in terms of viewership numbers, it has been renewed for a second season. It’s expected that Cena is going to take some time off for about two or three months because of last year when they filmed the show he took two months off. Considering that Smackdown’s September 11th Backlash pay-per-view will have Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles for the WWE Title and Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt (not official yet) as the top two matches, it seems like the blue brand is ready to put on a major event without Cena. A few years ago the thought of that happening sounds absurd, but in 2016 that’s just the way the current WWE product is run.

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Let’s say Cena films the show in September and October, then he comes back in November for Survivor Series. The big question then becomes: What does he do?

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AJ Styles immediately comes to mind. It’s possible that Styles will be the WWE World Heavyweight Champion by that point just based on the way he’s performed at such a high level since he started in WWE. While Styles already beat Cena twice (at June’s Money in the Bank in cheap fashion and then clean at SummerSlam), it doesn’t mean the rivalry is over. The easy story they could tell is whether or not Cena has enough left to win a record-tying 16th World Heavyweight Title, which only Ric Flair can say he has done. If Cena wins the title one more time it’s a great story. If he doesn’t, then the story becomes about what does Cena have left?

The only other top heel that Cena could feud with is Bray Wyatt. That’s a story that they did in 2014 with Cena winning the first match, Wyatt winning the next match thanks to a lot of help (remember that creepy kid?) and then Cena ended the feud with a decisive win. Is it really worth rehashing again with another feud? Maybe, if Cena is willing to put over Wyatt like he did Styles.

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That’s where Cena’s value really comes in. He can be the guy that elevates newer stars whether they are young guys on the way up or somebody like Styles, who is such an amazing performer that is seen as a bigger star because he beat Cena. What if WWE decides they need to make Baron Corbin into a top guy? They’re probably going to use Cena for that too.

An idea that makes a lot of sense is calling up Samoa Joe from NXT as a heel opponent for Cena. They trained together in California back in 2000, they are likely friends to some degree and most likely would relish the opportunity to have a meaningful feud in WWE. For Cena, it’s a chance to have another dream feud like he had with Styles while WWE can use it to establish Joe as a huge threat on the main roster.

As far as WrestleMania 33 goes, the obvious opponent would be The Undertaker because they haven’t had a high profile match since Cena has become a top guy in WWE in 2005. This match was actually planned for WrestleMania 32, but Cena’s shoulder injury prevented him from being in a match. There is a question of if Undertaker wants to wrestle again now that he’s over 50 years old, though. If the money is right, it would make sense for them to do it.

It’s going to be interesting to see if WWE will give him that record-tying 16th World Championship run. A few years ago it seemed like a sure thing, but now it may not happen since Cena has been kept out of the World Title picture for so long. The brand split may have helped him, though, because at some point Vince McMahon is likely to go back to “Golden Boy” Cena and put the WWE Title on him again.

Age catches up to everybody and he’s in the twilight of his career. There’s no telling when he might call it a career, but the next five years seems realistic.

Cena will wrestle for as long as he possibly can because he loves being a part of WWE. However, his run as “the man” may already be over whether WWE wants to admit it or not.

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After his recent appearance on Talking Smack when he said that he wants WWE to find somebody to take his spot, Cena knows that Father Time is knocking on the door. The end is near, but he still has a lot more to do and you would be foolish to bet against him. Word freakin’ life.