Sorry to disappoint all those John Cena bashers out there, but despite Cena’s recent rough patch, he isn’t losing his perch atop WWE’s corporate ladder anytime soon.
Like it or not, Cena is still the company’s most valuable commodity in and out of the ring. Of course, it doesn’t seem like that right now.
Cena hasn’t sniffed the WWE title since last summer, as CM Punk has carried the belt effortlessly in his absence. Still, with his extreme-rules match against megastar Brock Lesnar scheduled for the upcoming eponymous pay-per-view in Chicago, Cena is on the verge of competing in his third consecutive PPV main event without a championship up for grabs.
That’s a perfect example of how Cena’s light as WWE’s brightest star simply hasn’t dimmed. And don’t expect it to dim for the next few years, either.
Of course, there will eventually come a time when Cena is replaced as the top dog. However, I just don’t envision that time coming for a while.
In terms of permanent WWE wrestlers, there isn’t anyone on the current roster capable of dethroning Cena in terms of long-lasting merchandise sales or mainstream popularity. Obviously, the two stars capable of bumping Cena off are Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and the aforementioned Lesnar.
However, neither is a full-time wrestler, and they won’t stick around long enough to do so. Perhaps Cena’s biggest threat on the current roster is CM Punk.
Punk actually overtook Cena in terms of merchandise sales last fall and remains wildly popular with fans all over the WWE universe. But with Cena getting the main-event slot over Punk in the past three PPVs (Elimination Chamber, WrestleMania 28 and the upcoming Extreme Rules), it’s tough to declare that Punk has overtaken Cena in the popularity contest just yet.
If Punk can rock the masses for six straight years like Cena has, then I’ll give him the nod. Until then, I’m not yet sold on the sustainability of Punk’s mainstream popularity.
Cena, aka the $106 million man, remains the most likely next WWE star to cross over into mainstream entertainment. With all due respect to Lesnar, WWE’s youngest fans aren’t going to spend $100 million on his merchandise like they do with Cena.
Punk wouldn’t get the reception on a daytime show like the Chew that Cena recently received while cooking with celebrity chef Michael Symon. And neither holds a candle to Cena in regards of his popularity with the venerable Make A Wish charitable foundation.
Finally, ask yourself this. If I’m an objective WWE stockholder, who do I want as the face of Vince McMahon’s company as they try to launch this whole risky WWE Network endeavor?
A guy in Lesnar, who’s erratic and isn’t likely long for this whole wrasslin’ thing, like he wasn’t the first time around? A guy in Punk who still has to prove (although not much more) that his popularity isn’t just a flash in the pan? Or a stable, charismatic, moneymaking force like Cena?
Scoff all you want, but John Cena still oozes with mainstream attributes, much like Hulk Hogan and the Rock before him.
This is why Cena’s time atop the company isn’t ending anytime soon.