John Cena is a main event draw and the top Superstar in WWE. The former 14-time world champion has been on top of the heap in Vince McMahon's company since his first title reign in 2005, and he continues to hold that spot to this very day.
But the winds of change seem to be blowing in WWE, and that is directly affecting John's place in the company. For those fans that believed perhaps the day would never come when Cena would be out of the spotlight that he has enjoyed for so long, what is currently happening in WWE should be all the proof they need. WWE is laying the groundwork for life after John Cena
The notion of John actually being phased out at some point has been debated among fans for years. Many say that WWE is just not ready for that to happen; the company relies so much on Cena for the overall success of its product that it just cannot afford to lose him.
Others feel that Cena has done too much for the company, that he has given everything he has for too long to just see it taken away. Cena may have his fair share of critics out there, but no one can argue his dedication to WWE or his ability to carry the company.
But the fact is that John Cena will eventually see his run atop WWE come to an end. It's an inevitable fact that Cena surely understood when he was first elevated to the top nine years ago.
However, the question is, how do fans know that WWE is truly making moves to prepare for Cena's eventual role change? The answer to that lies primarily at the boots of the current WWE World Heavyweight champion.
Since defeating Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam in 2013, Randy Orton has been billed as the "face of WWE." It's a catchphrase that was first coined by Triple H and Stephanie McMahon and has subsequently been used on WWE programming very extensively since then.
And while a good number of the WWE faithful understand that the company's insistence on using that catchphrase is merely just storyline, an argument can be made to the contrary.
The reason for this because while Randy is hailed as the main Superstar, the face of the company, the truth is that John Cena is still in the locker room. He's still working main event matches and is still headlining pay-per-views. It's basically been business as usual for John, except for not being included in the face-of-the-company discussion.
But how much of that angle has directly affected Cena's character? Have fans truly taken that storyline seriously and begun to perhaps look past John as the top dog in WWE?
The fact that WWE keeps driving home the notion that Orton is the standard bearer for the company is perhaps all the more reason to believe that it's being done by design. Could WWE be planting the seeds in the minds of fans, preparing them for John's eventual departure?
Another way in which WWE could be preparing for life after Cena is the heavy focus on its ever-expanding roster of talent.
Daniel Bryan, The Shield, The Wyatt Family, Big E and Cesaro are just a handful of guys that WWE has spotlighted over the past several months. Each Superstar brings something different to the table and each Superstar is doing much more than just sharing Cena's main event spotlight.
Daniel Bryan is one of the best talents in WWE, The Wyatts vs. The Shield is a main event on any card and Big E has been viewed as a potential top guy in the making. Cesaro could be considered a breakout star, and of course, fans cannot forget about the man that is believed to be the heir apparent to John Cena: Roman Reigns of The Shield.
The debate revolving around Reigns has been happening for quite some time now. The truth is that for many WWE fans, this is the man that will rise up and take the spot currently inhabited by John Cena. But is there any real truth to that?
Is WWE currently laying the groundwork for life after John Cena?
At this point, that question is irrelevant. The conversation is taking place, the rumors have been churning and Roman is definitely front and center for WWE fans. The only real issue is, did WWE have anything to do with this story getting out?
Did the company intentionally let it slip that Roman was being considered for bigger and better things in WWE, as reported by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (via WrestleZone.com)? And if so, was it done to just plant the idea in the heads of WWE fans that the future was closer than they thought?
Despite how much WWE is truly manipulating the overall fan experience, the fact is that bringing in new talent is vital to the present and future success of the company. And that future success may not include John Cena.
Indeed, the man that Cena is facing at WrestleMania 30 is one of the aforementioned new faces in the company.
Bray Wyatt is one of the most talented Superstars on the mic that WWE currently has. His promos, combined with his ability to completely embrace his character and entertain the crowd, make him a future top-heel candidate.
The truth is that facing Cena on the WrestleMania stage gives Bray a huge rub and only reinforces the notion that John will one day embrace this new role of working with the younger stars.
It does appear that WWE is moving forward, and while Cena is of course still the same top star, there may not be much evolution for his character that would allow him to keep up with the Superstars of today. And despite how many fans don't agree with Cena subtly sliding out of the WWE World Heavyweight title picture, the truth is that it will eventually happen anyway.
WWE is preparing for the future, and that future may not include the same John Cena that fans know today. Cena is only getting older, and in order for the company to keep growing, it must keep evolving. That's why it's building its current roster with fresh new talent and why John is not involved in the debate concerning the face of WWE.
The shift may not happen today and it may not happen tomorrow, but at some point Cena will fall just outside of the full-time main event scene in WWE. And when that moment comes, 2013-2014 could be viewed as the time in which WWE began moving forward.