John Cena observers — love him, hate him or love to hate him — have to be asking one thing at this precise moment: now what?
After WrestleMania, when we thought we might get a complex story about Cena searching his soul in the wake of his loss to The Rock, we instead got his brief feud with Brock Lesnar. And after Extreme Rules, when we thought we might get a complex story about Cena being physically dominated and resorting to the underhanded tactics he used to capture his first major singles title, we instead got Cena cast as the employee in the thoroughly exhausted “domineering boss” storyline.
That of course took about two months and somehow worked in The Big Show. As a side note, it would have been nice if Show referenced Cena’s use of his chain to defeat Lesnar was the exact same technique employed in Cena’s U.S. Title win over Show at WrestleMania XX, but I’m guessing it’s only weirdos like me who remember that kind of thing. Regardless, Cena vanquished his boss oppressor (I guess that’s what we should believe?) last Sunday at No Way Out, humiliated him again Monday on Raw and got in a few more shots for good measure after the Smackdown tapings Tuesday.
So the question arises again: now what?
The only new story coming out of Monday’s Raw, and really, it started at No Way Out, is the HHH-Lesnar encounter at SummerSlam. CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Kane seem to be continuing their WWE Title story with AJ. The Big Show stated he’s done with Cena for now, though we’re not sure what’s next for him, either. And that’s all there is to say — no one else on the active roster is on his level.
I see only two possibilities, and I assume one of them, or something else, will begin to develop as soon as Monday.
- Chris Jericho returns to Raw (we know he’s coming back) to start a program with Cena leading to SummerSlam. This is probably my favorite idea because I would love to see Jericho use Cena’s Rock and Lesnar stories into Cena’s ongoing narrative. Jericho could really help Cena’s character develop (for the first time in ages) and also tell the story between the ropes.
- The new general manager also wages war against Cena. While I think this is more likely than a Jericho feud because this story seems to be the go-to for the creative team, it couldn’t start this week because we’ve already been told there will be a series of former GMs returning on the lead-up to Raw’s reinvention July 23.
Perhaps a hybrid option is that whoever is the guest GM Monday also will begin a program with Cena that takes us through the next few weeks. Perhaps we’ll get stuck with something far less exciting, such as a Cena-Tensai program that will have a hard time gaining momentum because it’s already played out on Raw this spring. What I’d actually love is to see Cena forced to compete in a qualifying match to get into the Raw Money in the Bank match, and then see him fail to capture the briefcase. All those guys who came out to the ring during the No Way Out cage match were there in opposition of Big Show, not support of Cena. The man has no real friends, nor should he.
(This also is where I point out my dream of one day seeing a wrestler, perhaps Dolph Ziggler, win both MITB cases in the same night. That would be a unique twist on an accepted format, kind of like the first time two men won the Royal Rumble.)
The real problem with Cena, as I’ve written before, is his lack of peers. While no one is on his level as an employee in terms of transcendence, it’s true that few characters are on his level in the ring — that’s the downside of his years-long run as borderline invincible. Any character who might be a legitimate foe is either out of the company or would represent yet another retread story, which is not something the fans are likely to relish.
And while in the past it seemed the time was right for Cena to take some time off, the business side of things now won’t allow it. Randy Orton is suspended, Rey Mysterio is hurt, Sheamus is nowhere near the draw Cena is, HHH and Lesnar are part-timers — Cena has to be on TV each week and headline the house shows, which means creative better have something for him, and they better have it my Monday. But what?
Your guess is as good as mine.