Love him or hate him, there is no denying that John Cena has a huge influence over the WWE’s audience and what those fans are willing to believe.
If Cena sells a challenger as a legitimate threat, then that talent is catapulted into stardom, while those who he mockingly dismisses are often resigned to mid-title obscurity.
For evidence of this effect, just look how Miz has never recovered from his run against the Massachusetts native.
Whether one superstar should hold so much control over the audience’s attention can certainly be queried, but it does open up a great opportunity to promote one of the lower-tier talents into the main event spotlight, now that Cena has gone down with an unexpected injury.
Rather than the complex build-up that most up-and-comers have to go through, a midcard star could simply be injected into the ongoing feud between The People’s Champ and CM Punk as Cena’s representative.
Cena would effectively take the manager role in this scenario, keeping the feud alive, whilst the rub of being Cena’s chosen one would immediately increase that performer’s status with a large proportion of the audience.
In this way, it would be a winning situation for all involved.
The fact that the whole feud between Cena and Punk is over respect only adds to the prestige potentially bestowed on the interloper, as that wrestler will be seen as having been especially chosen, and therefore respected, by Cena. Such an accolade would be a great badge of honor for that wrestler, but it would also make them a target for jealous rivals and so improve their future career prospects.
It might even be the chance to promote one of the plethora of midcard stars who have great fundamentals but lack mic skills. Cena has made his career on the mic, so promoting the other man should be well within his abilities. At the same time, the inexperienced talent could be given the chance to practice on the big stage with the experienced hand of Cena ready to save them if problems arrive.
One drawback in context with this scenario is that Cena’s injury is relatively short term, so he will be back to directly feuding with Punk fairly soon. This could leave the new main-event talent in no man’s land with no rival to compete against, in which case any momentum built could be lost.
An even worse situation could find the wrestler being beaten up in Cena's stead as the WWE tries to keep their two golden geese looking fierce at the expense of the new guy. Yet the potential upside is so large that this risk should be worthwhile, and Punk’s association with Paul Heyman opens up a number of opportunities for second-level feuds that would continue the superstar’s upward progress.
The decision of which superstar is chosen to fulfill the role is important, with the usual cluster of names all having their merits for the role. This time, though, there is one obvious wrestler who could gain most out of this situation, and that is Kofi Kingston.
The high-flyer is entering the prime of his career at the age of 31 and has been a stalwart of the midcard for the past 5 years. However, the feeling is that if he cannot get over the bump, then the African superstar will never achieve the heights that so many hoped for him.
What makes Kingston more suited than the rest is that he is already well known to the WWE audience, so he does not need to be introduced, and his finisher should gain an immediate reaction if used against Punk. Cena’s rub will simply reinforce so much that is already known, and the malaise that any tag team champion has to endure should be removed.
Additionally, this set-up also answers the WWE’s problem of how to fill the gap left by Cena’s absence. Such a method would avoid the intolerably long interview segments and nonsensical match selections that always threaten the product when a surprise injury throws an expected program.
Cena’s injury may have been a huge blow to the WWE but turning him into a manager, even for the short term, could have great long-term gains for the company.