According to Yahoo! Screen, WWE Extreme Rules was so brutal that John Cena needed to be stretchered out of the arena. Per WWE.com, Cena later ripped his neck brace off and refused to go to the hospital, walking away from the nearby ambulance.
Regardless of what transpired at Extreme Rules, Cena's health is the key to the WWE's ratings in the coming weeks.
Cena's apparent injury is the latest in a slew of ailments sustained by some of the company's top stars. It's also a potentially devastating injury, as he's not only one of their top draws, but the most significant man in the company.
Biases and opinions aside, that's clear with one fact—he's the WWE champion.
To lose a popular wrestler is a stinging blow, especially if he's a main source of your merchandise revenue and TV ratings. To lose a wrestler that holds the most significant title in your company, however, would be something else.
It'd be devastating.
An Injured Champion
The diehard WWE fan would tell you that the loss of a champion would result in the opportunity for lesser stars to rise up and seize the moment. After all, the WWE is an organization led by aging stars and established wrestlers that have been on top for the better part of a decade.
With that being said, let's ask ourselves one honest question—who, but Ryback, is ready to emerge as the new world champion?
If Ryback were to win with Cena sidelined, or even if they were to wrestle again, the underlying story would be rather disappointing. After all, Ryback did beat Cena to a pulp at Extreme Rules and still failed to win the title.
No contest or not, failing to win the title is a loss.
If Ryback were to go over Cena, or another superstar should Cena be forced to vacate, it would be a less than inspiring way to build up your next great superstar. Ryback, or as fans often put it, this year's Batista, is supposed to be a great player.
Not one that defeats an injured wrestler and capitalizes on a weak opportunity—you know, the way you kill a ratings-drawing titleholder.
Too Many Injuries
If John Cena were the only major superstar injured, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Unfortunately for the WWE, countless big-name performers are falling due to ailments and injuries that could reshape the structure of their organization.
For that reason, the WWE simply cannot afford another loss.
CM Punk suffered a serious knee injury at Wrestlemania, which currently has Punk shelved and rehabilitating. Even if he were to come back soon, the storyline would be rather hard to believe if he popped up and won the title with no buildup.
Fans may love the idea of Punk being champion, but fellow superstars would likely be rubbed the wrong way if he won the belt fresh off a Wrestlemania loss.
Punk's Wrestlemania opponent, Undertaker, joins fellow part-time performers Brock Lesnar and Triple H as those nursing injuries. In turn, it's quite possible that neither man will see a return to the ring in the near future.
With the top draws on the sidelines, one thing is clear—WWE cannot afford to lose another superstar. Especially not one of Cena's magnitude.