By the looks of it, John Cena, the cornerstone of WWE for most of the last decade, finds his once-solid main event career in a precarious position.
He's getting older, having turned 35 earlier this year, raising questions about just how much longer the company can rely on him on top.
He’s also been plagued with injuries in recent times, even undergoing elbow surgery. That grueling road schedule and all those hard-hitting matches look to be taking their toll.
There’s also the fact that the creative team seem at a loss for what to do with him.
You see, as he recuperates from his elbow surgery, Cena has become embroiled in a ridiculous soap opera-style storyline on Raw, which sees him accused of having an affair with former Raw General Manager AJ Lee. Per the angle, AJ was forced to resign after the Board of Directors accused her of fraternizing with Cena outside of work hours.
Both Cena and AJ deny that there is anything going on between them, insisting there are simply friends.
Although, interestingly enough, there have been more than a few hints that they do have strong feelings for each other but haven't acted upon them.
The storyline gives Cena something to do while he waits to get back in the ring—and its romance element may aid WWE is garnering female viewers—it is more than a little absurd.
Indeed, no one has yet addressed on TV why AJ had to go after allegedly carrying on an unprofessional relationship with a performer. Vickie Guerrero—her replacement—is famous for having onscreen affairs with younger wrestlers on the roster.
The angle is conjuring up comparisons with TNA’s dreadful Claire Lynch storyline from earlier this year.
That isn’t a good sign.
Sure, the angle could turn out to be entertaining, but melodramatic scripting like this often doesn’t turn out well.
Interestingly, while Cena wastes his time with Vickie Guerrero, Dolph Ziggler and AJ, a new star has emerged in WWE: Ryback.
Ryback, whose Bill Goldberg-style character has caught on hugely with the masses, seems to be being positioned as some sort of replacement to Cena.
Indeed, Cena has even endorsed him on recent episodes of Raw, ostensibly passing the torch to him.
Many would point to this as solid proof that Cena will no longer be the face of WWE and that the company is finally preparing for a future without him.
However, it remains to be seen whether or not Ryback truly is the heir apparent—he’s awful and limited as a wrestler and his promo skills leave a lot to be desired.
And none of this takes into account merchandise sales or ratings—two areas Cena still performs well in.
It’s very possible that the company will abandon Ryback’s push and go back to their comfort zone, once again revolving everything around Cena.
Something similar looks to have happened with CM Punk earlier this year.
Many used to think the current WWE champion, back when he was a babyface, could possibly be the new Cena and centerpiece of the company.
Alas, WWE declined to push Punk as the true top guy.
He spent most of the first half of his reign playing second fiddle to his more popular and valued co-worker, something that has even come up in his recent heel turn.
So, while the company—possibly recognizing that his time on top is coming to an end—may be keen for a replacement to Cena, they appear to be struggling to find the one performer who can be an adequate substitute.
And even if they did find some young, charismatic star that could potentially be the next big name, it remains to be seen whether the often-erratic booking team could schedule him properly.
Sadly, the company just can’t make stars like they used to.
This alone may guarantee that Cena’s time as the face of the company is far from other.