When RAW came to the Barclay’s Center for the last show of 2015, I heard something that I haven’t heard on WWE TV in a while… a huge pop and not that much heat for John Cena. Why? That’s simple. He was missed. In a wrestling world where we are constantly wanting pushes for the up-and-coming superstars, one thing remains consistent… WE NEED JOHN CENA!
Calm down, Cena-Hater Nation. Yes, his booking got stale over time and it seemed that once creative hit a wall, it was “Hey, let’s just give Cena the belt!” I’ll admit that as a fan of his, I was getting tired of seeing the same thing every week. But here is why we need Cena: He makes the WWE relevant. He’s the Tiger Woods, Tom Brady and LeBron James of wrestling. Non-wrestling fans can’t tell you who Dean Ambrose is, but they all know John Cena. The memes, the wishes he grants children through Make-A-Wish, his roles in movies like Trainwreck and Sisters and his co-hosting duties on the Today Show make him relevant to the mainstream, and therefore, give credibility to the WWE.
While Superstars like Batista and The Rock went on to a mainstream career, the difference is that John Cena does all of this while competing on a weekly basis, not just on high-profile pay-per-views. Before shooting Guardians of the Galaxy, Batista’s storyline was that he quit Evolution and the WWE. We haven’t seen him since. The Rock would come back occasionally for WrestleMania or SummerSlam, but then he disappeared as well. He began disassociating himself with wrestling and billing himself as Dwayne Johnson. The Rock came back and had his championship reign, but the belt was never defended on basic cable. Cena did all of his mainstream responsibilities while being the United States Champion and defending the belt each week. People who normally do not watch wrestling would stop on USA when Cena fought because they knew who he was. Non-fans who know I watch wrestling would stop be the day after RAW and tell me they were flipping through channels and stopped to watch Cena. My own girlfriend hates wrestling, but loves John Cena. She’ll even give the “U CAN’T SEE ME” gesture when she wins at something.
Cena’s shoulder surgery and his possibility of missing WrestleMania is a huge blow to the WWE, just as it is when Tiger misses the Masters. Sure, the hardcore fans who watch every show will still watch, but the casual fan who just watches WrestleMania or the non-fan who attends a watch party because they want to see John Cena wrestle, may not tune in. When that happens, the new superstars miss their opportunity to show those people what they can do. We all know what Kevin Owens, Sasha Banks, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins can do in the ring, but not having Cena at WrestleMania doesn’t give them a chance to show the mainstream audience. That is why, whether you like it or not, we need John Cena.