Wrestling fans have spent the last few years fretting over John Cena’s shelf life as a top star, wondering if and when someone will replace him as the WWE’s No. 1 guy.
Just relax, guys and girls. There’s nothing to fret about because we should all know how this story is going to play out.
Cena isn’t going anywhere. His status as a top star is firmly in place, and barring some sort of major unforeseen occurrence, that won’t change anytime soon.
Regardless of whether or not you are a Cena fan, it’s time to accept the fact that, barring a catastrophic injury, “The Champ” is going to be sticking around as the top star in pro wrestling for another five years, if not more.
Five more years? Is that joke? No, it’s not a joke—not when you look at the impressive longevity of a number of recent big-named stars.
Take Shawn Michaels, for example, who wrestled his last match in 2010 at age 45. He put on one of the greatest matches ever while in his mid-40s, nearly a decade after a four-year absence because of a severe back injury.
You can also look at Kane, who is now 46 years old and is currently one of the WWE’s biggest babyfaces. He’s been around the WWE since 1995. Though he’s managed to remain free of virtually any major injuries, he’s got a ton of wear and tear on his body and is still performing at a high level.
You can even look at a guy like Chris Jericho, who was a full-time star up until around age 40. Or look at Triple H. Even when he was in his late 30s, he was a consistent main eventer and world title contender, and now he’s one of the WWE’s top part-time stars.
HBK, Kane and HHH are all wrestling legends who were able to compete at very high levels until they were 40 years old or even older.
And what do those three have in common? Not one of them has ever been as big of a star as Cena is.
Although Triple H, Kane and Michaels all accomplished a great deal during their careers, they have—aside from Triple H—never really cemented themselves as the No. 1 star or the biggest draw in the WWE. Triple H had a great run at the top throughout his early- to mid-20s, but he never reached the nearly unattainable level where Cena has been for nearly eight years now.
Yep, it’s been almost a decade since Cena solidified himself as the WWE’s top guy, and based purely on all of the success many previous major stars were able to have even into their 40s, it’s hard to picture Cena walking away from that anytime soon.
Cena is still the clear-cut top guy in the WWE—someone who generates the most interest, draws the most and sells the most merchandise.
Triple H, Michaels and Kane, among a slew of other great performers who competed into their 40s, can’t lay claim to being as big a star as Cena has been for the last seven or eight years.
That makes you wonder: Why would Cena even consider giving that up anytime soon?
Clearly, Cena has a love and passion for the business. You can see and feel it in his performances on TV and PPV, and, obviously, he’s worked his tail off in order to accomplish all that he’s achieved.
When will Cena be replaced as the WWE's top star?
Therefore, if his body holds up (admittedly, that’s an if), there’s really nothing that should prevent him sticking around as the WWE’s top guy for as long as he wants to be in that role.
After all, the WWE has tried like hell to develop new major Superstars to challenge Cena for that spot. The company has failed to do so with the likes of Sheamus and Ryback, and even super popular, incredibly talented Superstars like Randy Orton and CM Punk haven’t been able to replace Cena as the face of the WWE.
Cena has turned back any and all challengers, and, since he's just 36 years old, that trend is likely to continue.
Being 36 as a pro wrestler is like being 26 in other sports. It’s a time when most guys are in their prime, and Cena’s proved that with a ton of great matches in recent years (his series of bouts with Punk, for example) and no real signs of letting up.
Cena can still go, and even when his wrestling ability starts to decline, he’ll have that incredible drawing power as long as he isn’t making his way to the ring with a cane or a walker.
The fans love Cena, and until the day they don’t, Cena will have his spot as the No. 1 star in the WWE.
Just don’t expect that day to come at any point within the next five years. Odds are it may not happen until Cena is well into his 40s.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!