John Cena is an inhuman warrior or a lunatic for competing at Hell in a Cell just over two months after undergoing elbow surgery; WWE will be thrilled to have him back either way.
Vickie Guerrero announced on Monday's Raw that Alberto Del Rio must defend his championship against Cena at the upcoming pay-per-view. Assuming that this is not WWE attempting to deceive the audience, his early return is big news.
Star power is vital to successful pay-per-views, and there isn't a bigger star in pro wrestling now than Cena. He will give Hell in a Cell added intrigue and increased viewership.
Raw's ratings have suffered in Cena's absence including the go-home show for Battleground, which earned a disappointing 2.68 rating, per ProWrestling.net. The buyrate numbers aren't out yet for either Night of Champions or Battleground, but who wants to bet they aren't stellar?
Expect Hell in a Cell to outdo both shows by a large margin.
In 2008, Cena required surgery for a herniated disc in his neck.
He was out of action from August until November, where he battled Chris Jericho at that year's Survivor Series. The pay-per-view earned 319,000 buys, per CagesideSeats.com, and Survivor Series hasn't reached that number since.
Even just the few months he was away was seemingly enough to invigorate interest in him pursuing a championship.
Beyond numbers, though, he brings added excitement as well.
With Cena added to the show, the lineup suddenly feels stacked. Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan meet in a Hell in a Cell match for the vacant WWE Championship, Triple H and Big Show appear to be headed for a dramatic collision. Adding Cena to that mix is akin to equipping a car with a nitrous booster.
His return provides a buzz to the event with people wondering how he managed to come back so soon, how he'll do and if he can win the world title.
Who else could have slotted into the position opposite Del Rio and made the world-title bout such a buzzworthy bout?
There's a strong argument to be made that this was Cody Rhodes' world-title match for the taking, an opportunity to capitalize on his hot streak. Wrestling wise, Rhodes would have been the superior choice, but would he have had as many people talking as Cena has?
WWE didn't wait to find out. WWE went with the safe route, going with its ace rather than banking on Rhodes' promise.
Del Rio's newest challenger elevates the World Heavyweight Championship match. Christian, Rob Van Dam and Dolph Ziggler all entertained in their attempts to take the title from Del Rio. Cena has people discussing how he could increase the prestige of the belt, though.
Obviously didn't watch #RAW, but I'll say one thing; A John Cena reign could do WONDERS for the world title's sinking prestige.— Ryan Frye (@WiFrye) October 8, 2013
Cena also offers Del Rio his toughest challenge.
It was believable that Ziggler, Christian and Van Dam could all beat the champ, but Cena forces Del Rio into the underdog position. Cena's history of title wins will have oddsmakers leaning toward him.
That creates an opportunity for Del Rio to look like an unstoppable force should he fend the powerhouse off, or else this could create the moment of Damien Sandow's career.
Were Sandow to have cashed in on a hurting Del Rio at Battleground, it would have been a fun moment of villain taking advantage of villain. Should Sandow pounce on Cena whose repaired elbow has been tortured by Del Rio, his hierarchy in the world of WWE skyrockets.
Cena is WWE's ultimate superhero, and taking him down is a viable path to bad-guy success.
WWE doesn't even have to pull that trigger to increase buzz heading into Hell in Cell. The company need only hint strongly at the possibility of a Sandow cash-in.
With Cena inserted into the role of challenger, the World Heavyweight Championship match will get far more focus heading into Hell in a Cell. WWE is also betting on him helping to turn the financial numbers for the pay-per-view into something worthy of celebration.
He joins Bryan, Orton, Del Rio, Triple H and Big Show on a card that just got much more enticing.