Sunday 15 February 2015

Old Man Cena

At 37 John Cena is not what you'd call old. But so far in 2015 two members of the WWE roster have been scripted to mention that 'The CeNation Leader' is "old", the implication being that he's past his best. The first was Seth Rollins in the build to Royal Rumble. The second was Rusev in the build to Fast Lane.

Neither of those guys are low profile. We were meant to get the message that Cena's been around for a long time and that his best days may lay behind him. Nothing to do with his booking happens by accident. But it's not yet clear what this is leading to.

It's possible the concept of Cena being past his best has been introduced as an excuse for any upcoming losses he suffers at the hands of Rusev (and anyone else for that matter). More likely it's tied into the planned ascent of golden boy Roman Reigns to the top of the company. By laying groundwork regarding Cena's status now a Reigns versus Cena one-on-one match at SummerSlam or WrestleMania 32 would have that little bit more meaning. The man on his way to the top against the veteran who's had his day in the sun. Plus, in the WWE hive mind, Reigns will probably find it easier to establish himself as the top lad without Cena emphatically in the role.

Washed up? Doesn't look it to me.
But what makes it a bit of an odd move is that Cena is very clearly not past his best, either in terms of physical ability or career accomplishments. 2014 saw him main event six out of twelve pay-per-views and enjoy a two month reign as WWE world champion. He's had years where he's accomplished more, certainly, but this slight decrease in prominence is hardly proof that he's washed up. If Cena's past his prime headlining fifty per cent of the company's pay-per-views what does that say about the rest of the roster?

But it should be remembered that Cena's 2014 title win (probably) wasn't planned. He won the title after a neck injury forced Daniel Bryan to vacate it. Had D-Bry stuck around the chances are that he would have been the man to lose to Lesnar at SummerSlam. When we bear this in mind Cena's PPV headline tally falls to five, assuming he'd have challenged Lesnar at a post-SummerSam show. If we assume he wouldn't have faced Lesnar at all in 2014 his tally drops to four.

Furthermore, without the thirteenth WWE title run Cena wouldn't have worn a world championship since losing the World Heavyweight championship on December 15 2013. It's unlikely the plan was to present Cena as "old" now as long as the end of 2013 but it may have been the plan at the coming out of WresteMania XXX. Which would fit with what I've assumed was the originally planned scenario for last year. 

But whether it was planned in advance or not Cena doesn't look washed up. He's been far too protected over the years to be convincing in the role of the washed-up veteran whose career is in its twilight years. It is nice that WWE are trying to do something new with him, and it's even nicer that what they're trying to do ties into them finally getting around to trying to establish some new credible main event names, but this is where their over protection of Cena across the years is going to come back to hurt them.

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