How WWE's New Era Impacts John Cena's Role in the Company

Tom Clark@tomclarkbrFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2016

John Cena.
John Cena.Credit: WWE.com

John Cena is on the way back. WWE's top guy, the man that so many fans love to hate, told the world via Twitter he will be returning to the fold on the May 30 edition of Monday Night Raw.

But while this Memorial Day will be a memorable one thanks to Cena's appearance, the real question is what happens when he gets there? How exactly does WWE's new era affect Cena's role in the company?

It's been easy to forget about Cena since he's been gone.

That is not to say he's not valuable. WWE's top star is just as important as he was before in terms of value and drawing power. But the company has loaded its programs with an abundance of new faces and talented veterans to fill the void.

This is the new era of WWE.

Kevin Owens and Cesaro.
Kevin Owens and Cesaro.Credit: WWE.com

Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Enzo Amore, Colin Cassady, Baron Corbin, Apollo Crews and AJ Styles have all captured the headlines and the main event spots in Cena's absence. WWE has done a great job of assimilating these talents into the main roster while also elevating existing talents as well. 

Dean Ambrose has never looked better, Chris Jericho continues to impress and Cesaro is finally getting an opportunity to succeed. It seems as though WWE has seen the need to evolve, and the future looks brighter than ever before.

So where does that leave Cena?

There's no reason to believe he will come back to crickets on Raw. There's also no reason to believe he will come back to an empty storyline that would not allow him to shine as he always has. He has no apparent ill will with WWE, and no one expects that to happen anytime soon.

Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady.
Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady.Credit: WWE.com

But the company has done a tremendous amount of work to move the product forward in Cena's absence. Now it must find a way to fit him in and continue the work that's been done since his injury in January.

For many of his critics, it's the short-term plan that worries them.

The temptation to immediately insert Cena into the WWE World Heavyweight Championship picture may be too good to pass up. This may seem like a great idea because it's sure to spike ratings, but what happens after that?

Would Cena win the belt from Roman Reigns and then take over WWE as always?

If so, where does that leave the rest of the roster? Does Reigns just fall back down to the midcard again, as if all of the work done to push him up was for nothing? Would Cena then begin defending his championship against one new face after another until he beats them all?

Roman Reigns.
Roman Reigns.Credit: WWE.com

How is that a good example of WWE looking to the future?

If Cena doesn't move back into the title picture, could he perhaps go back to the United States Championship? He did an outstanding job of getting that belt over in 2015; would he be given the chance to do the same thing again in 2016?

The problem is Kalisto is the champ. He is part of the new era, but would he be expected to do the job to the returning veteran?

If Cena does become U.S. champ again, who would be included in the line of challengers he'd ultimately beat? The new faces and fresh talents of WWE would unfortunately be involved.

But where does that leave the company after the fact?

It seems no matter what Cena does, he would upset the balance of power and talent chemistry in WWE. Of course, there is technically no top babyface on WWE programming. Maybe the company is keeping that spot open in preparation of Cena's return.

The fact is Cena would eventually begin moving laterally in WWE.

He can't stay on top forever, and he can't continue his winning ways against everyone on the roster. Eventually, he must starting moving around so others can come in and gain a foothold. This is not to suggest he must give up his spot, but that process must start at some point.

WWE must be in great shape before that ever happens.

In the meantime, Cena must take on the role of the veteran leader. He's done this for quite a while, but his win-loss record cannot be the focus it once was. He must start giving the rub to other Superstars so they have a chance to accomplish something.

Cena does not have to lose every match, but he also cannot win every one like he used to.

WWE is filled with so much talent that it would simply not be smart business to put them flat on their backs so Cena can look better than ever.

Cena must learn to live with the rest when he comes back. He's still WWE's top guy until the company says otherwise, which means he will be heavily spotlighted as always. But there must be some room for him to work with the younger talents and help develop them as well.

John Cena can't be the top guy forever. One day, he will retire and leave that role to someone else. But first, he must work within the system and be the veteran asset WWE needs. Cena will be up to the task, as will the new faces hungry to reach the top.

Cena has been a loyal and dedicated worker, and that will not change. But his role will, and the steps to that change should begin on May 30.

 

Tom Clark can regularly be found on Bleacher Report. His podcast, Tom Clark's Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online here.