John Cena has been stagnant since November. Stuck in feuds that seem important on the surface (most notably versus The Rock and versus Brock Lesnar), Cena hasn't progressed very much—if at all—as a character.
For evidence of this, look no further than the aftermath of his WrestleMania match with The Rock. Cena constantly talked about the importance of that match and how he couldn't possibly deal with losing it, the implication being that losing would have a major effect on him.
He lost. Basically nothing about his persona or in-ring performance has changed since that match.
The United States Championship has been held by Santino Marella for the past three months. Take nothing away from Santino, who has managed to become very popular with many WWE fans, but ultimately, Santino's character is just comic relief.
And that's fine—a guy pretending to play the trombone after beating his opponent using a snake hand puppet can be a nice change of pace from more traditional matches—but it doesn't do much for legitimizing the U.S. Title as important, which is bad.
Conventional wisdom dictates that two wrongs don't make a right. By that logic, combining two slumping entities—John Cena and the U.S. Title—wouldn't help Cena's career, nor would it help legitimize the U.S. Title. But screw conventional wisdom; the WWE should put the U.S. Championship on John Cena.
Here are four reasons why.
This is a big one.
As I implied previously, Santino's character is (at least in my opinion) making it hard to take the United States Championship seriously. After all, the guy holding the title sure doesn't seem to take wrestling very seriously himself.
Honestly, he seemed more serious when he was trying to teach Ricardo Rodriguez some of the finer points of ring announcing on Raw recently than he does in any of his matches.
Unlike Santino, John Cena is a big name. A huge name. One of the most popular and well-known stars in WWE history. If Cena competes for the title and wins it, that sends the message that the title is meaningful and valuable. After all, why else would a big star like Cena chase it in the first place?
With Santino as champion, the United States title serves no purpose. It's a meaningless trophy for the funny guy who does the absurd power-walk to the ring.
With Cena as champion, it becomes important again. It can be used to effectively elevate younger guys on the way up or to give upper-echelon guys who find themselves out of the world title picture something meaningful to do. Winning a title should have meaning.
Champions should be the best, because that's literally what being a champion means—you're the best because you beat all other possible opponents. When champions aren't the best, the titles lose meaning. When the titles lose meaning, there's no reason to even watch anymore, because then every match would be to no end.
Theoretically, every WWE wrestler's goal is to win the WWE Championship, right? If the WWE Championship becomes meaningless, they have no reason to fight other than for the money, and no one wants to watch two guys fighting only because they need the paycheck.
This is all to say that putting the U.S. Championship on John Cena is the only way for titles to remain important, and therefore, for professional wrestling to continue to exist. Or something to that effect.
Seriously, It's Not Like Cena Has Anything Else Going On Right Now
Well, technically this isn't true, as he's currently feuding with Big Show. But to what end?
He feuded with Kane from December-February and then The Rock up to WrestleMania, followed by feuds with Brock Lesnar, John Laurinaitis, and now Big Show. Basically nothing about Cena has changed as a result of these matches—he's basically in the exact same position where he was in November.
This seems problematic. Cena is just spinning his wheels right now, neither moving forward nor backward. It's a dangerous place to be. If Cena's character is stagnant, then fans may slowly become less interested in what he does. Cena has always been great at eliciting reactions from the crowd, but that may change if he stays stuck in the mud.
It seems fair to say that after years of him beating everyone, losses don't hurt John Cena anymore. He can lose to people without having his talent called into question due to his track record.
Not that his credibility wouldn't be a little hurt if he dropped fifty straight matches to Heath Slater, but he can lose matches cleanly without looking the worse for it.
So based on all of this, why not drop Cena into the U.S. Title picture and allow him to simultaneously restore its credibility and elevate other wrestlers by taking turns with it?
Don't get me wrong—I'm not saying that this is the optimal way to use John Cena, or that Cena shouldn't be main eventing. I'm saying that having him fight for the U.S. Title is a better use of him than using him in a month-long feud with Brock Lesnar that everyone immediately forgets about when Lesnar stops appearing on TV.
It Would Help to Create New Superstars
Okay, so I've already mentioned this one, but it warrants further explanation.
One of the most effective uses of secondary titles is to give them to guys who the WWE is trying to elevate, but aren't elite quite yet. The U.S. Title has the potential to be a great stepping stone for guys trying to step up from the mid-card and enter the main-event picture. You could even argue that's what its main purpose should be.
Santino will never be a main-eventer. If he is, something has gone drastically, dreadfully wrong with professional wrestling, and probably the world in general. The credibility that John Cena would restore to the title would allow it to become this kind of stepping stone to the top for wrestlers who aren't quite main-event caliber yet.
Not that the WWE main event/World Championship scene is in a bad place right now, but new superstars constantly need to be created as the top guys of the present succumb to injury, retirement, and other problems that can force a wrestler to take time off. I'm looking at you on that last one, Randy Orton.
U.S. Champions from the recent past include The Miz, Kofi Kingston, Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger, who all at one point or another have been in the main-event picture. Despite this, none of these four have been portrayed as main-event players on the same level as guys like CM Punk and John Cena.
But if, say, Ziggler were to enter a U.S. Championship feud with Cena, with both of them trading the title in competitive matches, would that not give Ziggler the bump he needs to become a full-fledged superstar? Beating John Cena cleanly is an accomplishment that lasts forever and that gives any wrestler instant credibility.
Of course, it's not like beating John Cena is an automatic ticket to fighting for the World Championship. For evidence of this, we need look no further than The Miz, who has fallen down the Pit of No Return (or something) since main-eventing WrestleMania against Cena in 2011.
Of course, Miz never really beat Cena in decisive fashion, which is why the word "cleanly" is emphasized in the above paragraph.
Still, I stand by the assertion that putting wrestlers like Ziggler, Rhodes and Swagger in back-and-forth feuds with Cena would do wonders for their credibility, in both the short-term and the long-term.
It'd Be Fun!
Well, it would be fun, right? We all liked Doctor of Thuganomics John Cena when he was competing for the U.S. Title in 2004.
Anyway, I'm not trying to say that putting John Cena in the U.S. Title picture will necessarily create new superstars, revitalize Cena's career and add significant prestige to the U.S. Title. But there's reason to believe it might do one or more of those things, and that alone makes it worth a shot.
There's also the argument that adding Cena to the U.S. Championship scene will reinforce the idea that anything can happen on a WWE show and that certain "conventions"—for example, having the same group of wrestlers in the main event—can be defied and even change. Shuffling the deck, so to speak, lends some unpredictability to the WWE, that, in my opinion, could be very beneficial for the product.
Besides, if nothing else, it's a wayyyyyy better use of Cena than having him main event Raw against Michael Cole, right? Not like the WWE would ever do something like that, of course.