A star as big as John Cena is always going to be the subject of rumors and ill-advised shots in interviews. He will also always be in the center of WWE's future plans.
That was certainly true for him this week, as talk of his WrestleMania match, SummerSlam possibilities and how he compares to wrestlers of the past buzzed around the Internet. With his upcoming clash against Bray Wyatt now official, he has other things to focus on.
Still, he can't escape speculation and scrutiny. Such is the price of stardom.
Earlier this month, there was confusion as to whether Cena was legitimately injured. Conflicting reports (h/t WrestleZone.com) had him both suffering a strained groin and having no real injury whatsoever.
The physical issues, storyline or otherwise, appear to be cleared up as he took a beating from Erick Rowan on Monday's Raw and had an otherwise busy week.
The former world champ also attended SXSW in Austin, Texas, as part of the "Crushing Second Screen: The Ultimate TV Companion" panel, as noted by WrestlingInc.com. After talking about reaching new markets like China, Cena whipped out a little Chinese.
Want to thank everyone at #WWESXSW for allowing us to participate. Truly an honor. Still in the early stages of Chinese but trying my best:)— John Cena (@JohnCena) March 9, 2014
He seems to be back in the usual WWE grind, doing media appearances like SXSW and matches for live events. He looked to be healthy in his latest house show bout, although one has to wonder why he didn't show at another event.
House Show Notes
Despite being advertised to appear, Cena was not a part of the March 7 show in Winnipeg, per PWTorch.com.
The headline from that night was a controversial incident between Batista and a radio DJ, but Cena fans had to be worried about the leader of the Cenation. Was WWE holding him back over concerns about his health? Was his groin issue in fact real and now lingering?
Those worries were quickly washed away.
CENA & BATISTA BEAT ORTON & WYATT AT MSG!!! Results from last night's WWE Live Event from Madison Square Garden... http://t.co/khtOLZXFQb— Ring Wars (@RingWarsNews) March 9, 2014
Batista furthered his heel status by turning on Cena during the match. Meanwhile, Cena and Wyatt got a few chances to clash in the ring. That interaction will help prep them for their bout at WrestleMania XXX.
The more familiar the two foes are with each other, the better the match promises to be. WWE doesn't want to have them fight on Raw every night until April 6.
The house show route allows them to have a number of low-risk dress rehearsals to up the chances of that match being great.
A Date With a Monster
Jim Ross is of the opinion that Cena vs. Wyatt will be a show-stealing bout.
The Hall of Famer posted the following about the match on his blog:
What if I told you that John Cena and Bray Wyatt will arguably steal the show at WM30? Roll your eyes if you want but when you pair two, athletic performers with legit football backgrounds, both offensive linemen, expect their work rate to increase and their match to be a '10' on the physicality chart.
As many doubters as Cena still has, Ross' projection is not out on a limb. Cena's resume is brimming with classic matches. Wyatt just had a Match of the Year candidate at Royal Rumble against Bryan.
If Wyatt is as aggressive and confident as he was that night, it's going to be a tough battle for WrestleMania's best offering.
Wyatt has a career-altering opportunity ahead of him. Cena is WWE's benchmark opponent. Hang with him and one will be viewed differently.
A recent clash with Cena greatly boosted Cesaro's momentum. Cena has the power to do that and more for Wyatt, making the clan leader's WrestleMania debut an unforgettable one.
Reported Post-WrestleMania Plans
Even though WrestleMania is not for a few more weeks, word about what will happen with Cena after the event has made its way around the web.
One report mentions his place in the company but doesn't offer any surprising information. F4WOnline, via WrestlingInc.com, notes the following:
That doesn't sound like any kind of shift. Bryan and Cena are Nos. 1 and 1A now. The only difference would be if WWE clearly positions Bryan above Cena.
Many fans are hoping that Bryan has a long run with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Cena doesn't need that title to be a marquee talent. His matches feel big thanks to his star power.
At SummerSlam that could be true against Batista if Bryan isn't facing The Animal instead.
According to F4WOnline.com (via WrestleZone.com), Cena and Bryan are both on the short list to be Batista's opponent at that event. CM Punk was on it as well, but his recent departure makes the betting odds on that happening rather low.
A Batista vs. Cena match would be a reprise of their SummerSlam 2008 battle and also a meeting of two of the company's biggest names today. Just how much of a star Cena is came up in a recent interview with former wrestler and current gigolo, Buff Bagwell.
An Off-the-Mark Assessment of Cena
A number of strong opinions about Cena came flying out of Bagwell's mouth in that interview.
Bagwell told "The Shoot" podcast (h/t PWMania), "He's not that cornerstone guy. He's not that super mega Superstar that The Rock has become." While Cena may be below Steve Austin and The Rock on the list of all-time greats, he is without a doubt a "cornerstone guy." WWE isn't going to keep a guy on top as long as it has unless he's bringing in major dollars.
Was speechless than I saw "CM Punk is too small to be champion" from Bagwell. Then laughed after: "John Cena isn't a cornerstone guy". #WWE— WrestlingNewsSource (@WNSource) March 10, 2014
Bagwell's other comments are even more startling.
He claims that Goldberg was a bigger star than Cena and said, "You give me the same push I think I would be just as big as John Cena." The former tag team champ went on to say that Cena's success was simply a case of him being in the right place at the right time.
As much as WWE has made Cena, it wasn't working with an empty canvas.
Bagwell's comments undervalue Cena's charisma, work ethic and impressive collection of matches. His belief that he could be on Cena's level with a similar push is laughable.
With any prominent position comes doubters, though. That is something Cena knows better than just about anybody.