Thursday 20 September 2012

The Rare Sell

John Cena is injured. It was originally reported, by WWE’s official website, that ‘The CeNation Leader’ would miss between two and three weeks of action. While this was an irritation it wasn’t catastrophic. Such a short amount of time off would have allowed Cena to be back on TV in plenty of time to hype a clash with WWE CM Punk at Hell in a Cell on October 28th.

Unfortunately the two to three week timeframe was corrected by Cena himself via Twitter. The former ten time WWE champion mentioned that he had discussed the matter with surgeon Dr James Andrews and had been informed would be more like six to eight weeks. He then stated that the website should check their facts, which was nice to see because WWE wrestlers are usually very quick to attack “dirt sheets” for getting things wrong.
While there's never a good time for a wrestler to get injured there is a positive note here: Cena won't miss WrestleMania. Whether he has to take off two weeks or eight WWE's biggest star will be back in plenty of time for the biggest wrestling event of 2013.
Hell in a Cell is five and a half weeks away. I wouldn’t blame anyone for thinking that Cena has just enough time to make a superhuman comeback and wrestle at the event. He’s returned quickly from injuries before and his character is synonymous with no-selling.

Hopefully Cena's new T-shirt will continue to sell even though he's missing ring time. It's still for a good cause

Realistically it’s not going to happen. Even if Cena is fully recuperated by October 28th WWE won’t be sure of his condition one way or the other until it’s too late. They still have to announce and hype a WWE title match for the event. They cannot wait until the week before in the hope that Cena will be capable of wrestling. Even if they could guarantee that he would be ready to wrestle it would risk Cena (and Punk’s) safety for him to wrestle a match as gruelling as Hell in a Cell just after surgery.
It's lucky for WWE that this injury has occurred during a six week pay-per-view gaps. Had it happened during one of their (ridiculous) two or three week interludes then it would have been that much tougher to decide upon and promote a new headline attraction.
WWE has a show to promote, with or without John Cena. CM Punk, as WWE champion and the biggest active star will still be the man to main event the show. He needs a new opponent though. Because of their well-established over-reliance on merch machine Cena the company finds itself in a tight spot in this regard.

An emergency face turn and programme with Punk could be organised for The Miz. It doesn't seem likely though. It would be a rush job and Monday's RAW made it clear he's heading toward a showdown with Ryback.
There's a chance Rey Mysterio could be picked as a placeholder opponent. He has good chemistry with 'The Second City Saint' and has the credibility to headline a supercard. There are problems again though. Like Miz, Mysterio also has a storyline brewing, in this case with Sin Cara (and possibly the Prime Time Players). I also don't think Punk and Mysterio, known for fast-paced, technical matches with one another, would be right for a cage collision.
The obvious candidate to challenge CM Punk is Randy Orton. The two have worked some highly enjoyable bouts together and as far as main event pairings in WWE go a clash between them would feel relatively fresh (they haven't had a PPV match since Extreme Rules 2011).
'The Viper' is WWE's only realistic option for pitting against the WWE champion. He has the auraand status to be a worthy challenger to Punk and contribute to the legacy of the Hell in a Cell. It would mean placing his programme with Dolph Ziggler on hold but that's not necessarily a bad thing. 'The Show Off' could just as easily face big bad Randy at Survivor Series as HIAC. In fact tackling 'The Apex Predator' on the latter event could help both the aspiring headliner and the standing of the Survivors Series show in the long run.
While Cena won't be wrestling for the next month or two that doesn't mean he'll be absent from television. If he does manage to get medically cleared in time there’s always the option of adding him to Punk’s match as a special referee. That would serve to keep their programme alive going into Survivor Series.

Cena is expected to keep appearing on RAW while rehabbing. With a tender arm it’s unlikely he’ll be getting involved in physical angles but he should be fine to do a weekly promo. An interesting option open to the company is to have Cena replace Jerry ‘the King’ Lawler on commentary for a few weeks. He doesn’t have any experience calling a three hour live show but he would be able to provide an insight into the action and could follow the lead of headset veteran Michael Cole. Jim Ross could be called into to lessen the pressure.

Whatever happens between now and Hell in a Cell I’m sure Cena will continue making regular appearances on RAW and will resume his feud with Punk as soon as he is physically able. WWE’s biggest concern should be finding a worthy challenger to Punk. Respect the champion and all that.

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