John Cena. Perhaps no other wrestler has caused as much debate and discussion over the past 10 years. He's divided live crowds, he's been loved and hated. So where have the last 10 years of his career led him?
WWE does not appear to have any plans to get Cena back into the WWE title picture, and may even give him the World Heavyweight Championship contract in the Money in the Bank briefcase.
So what is Cena doing now? Does WWE have a coherent plan for him, or are they just looking for something to do? I believe they have plans, and those plans may include what some are starting to suspect: a heel turn or even a WWE Championship-World Heavyweight Championship unification at some point next year.
Right now, Cena's character is stale. He's in a storyline that is boring at best and horrible at worst, saved only by the presence of AJ Lee, who by the way has become the best Diva in a long time.
Now, Cena is getting essentially a one-on-one Money in the Bank Ladder Match against Dolph Ziggler. If Cena wins this match, he'll get a shot against the World Heavyweight Champion. I just can't see Cena winning this match, or the World Heavyweight Championship, unless there is something more meaningful behind those potential victories.
While supposedly equal, the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships are anything but at this point in time. The World Heavyweight Championship was once the title of WWE's flagship show, held by the likes of Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton and defended in the main event spots at many pay-per-views. But the title has lost prestige in recent years.
So why would the WWE put the person who is supposed to the the "face of the company" in a spot to be involved with lesser storylines than those to which Cena is accustomed?
For Cena, there are two possibilities: he's either set to lose his match at TLC or win it. I can already hear the "duhs" through my internet connection, but either option could cause a chain of events leading to two huge storylines.
Will John Cena Win at TLC?
The first option is that Cena loses again. If and when he loses to Ziggler at TLC, it would be yet another loss at a pay-per-view this year. He's lost to CM Punk time after time, and a loss to Ziggler might seriously begin to damage Cena.
That's what happens to wrestlers before they turn heel.
We've seen this time and again: a fan favorite keeps losing big matches, never quite able to overcome the obstacles in their path. They get frustrated. They turn on their friends. They turn on the fans. That's WWE's standard formula for turning a face into heel.
So could a Cena loss at TLC lead him towards a heel turn? It's possible. And it's more likely now that Punk, Ryback, The Shield and other guys are taking more and more of the spotlight. WWE may feel that they no longer need Cena as a face to draw pay-per-view buys or generate ratings. And if WWE creative is smart, they could use that scenario to re-brand Cena.
How likely is this scenario? I'd say somewhat likely, because what else will WWE do with him? He's nearing the end of his career, and he's done pretty much everything he can ever do. There is literally nothing left for Cena to accomplish.
Except a heel turn.
He started as a heel, but that was nearly a decade ago. It's really the only thing left for Cena at this point. That, and avenging his loss to the Rock. That brings me to my next point.
Cena could win. Ziggler fans are upset that this scenario could even play out, but it is very likely. He's the only person ever to cash in and lose, something I'm sure he'd like to correct. And here's where that gets interesting. Cena will certainly not be limited to appearances on SmackDown, meaning WWE would need a way to keep him on Raw.
If he were to successfully cash in on, say, Big Show or Sheamus, he'd win his third World Heavyweight Championship and 13th world title overall, tying him with Triple H. That would also mean he could be a Champion heading into Wrestlemania. If the Rock beats CM Punk at the Royal Rumble, there is a very real possibility that they have the biggest rematch in WWE history.
Here's why this is likely. WWE hasn't had a draft since 2011, and they just don't have the roster depth they did in 2002 to warrant a permanent division of their roster.
If the brands will no longer be intentionally separated, then the rationale for two world titles is completely gone. It would allow the upper-card wrestlers to consolidate to one group, creating better rivalries and feuds. A unification match at WrestleMania, especially one between the Rock and John Cena, would garner major media attention.
The Rock would generate tons of mainstream media publicity for the event, and fans would, in theory, be drawn to the unification match. You could even put CM Punk in the match and do for him what winning the WWE Undisputed Championship did for Chris Jericho.
I suppose there is a third possibility: Cena loses to Ziggler, wins the Royal Rumble match and challenges the Rock at Mania for the WWE Championship he took off Punk at the Rumble. I think this scenario is far more likely than either of the two I described above, just not as exciting.
For now, though, Cena's role in WWE seems muddled at best. Here's to hoping WWE creative can give us an exciting 2013. Cena certainly could be a big part of their plans. I just hope they don't give us more of the same.