Cena season's approaching just in time to over-correct a short-term run of unproven stars borrowing the torch. WWE appears detrimentally resigned to the fact that a limited number of established stars are its only hope in times of crisis. As WWE continues to go to the Rock-Cena-Lesnar-McMahon well, negative long-term ramifications will loom large.
Two months later, he has been cleared by WWE doctors and is reporting for duty.
Cena is no stranger to the quick recovery, and whether or not his injury was as serious as WWE let on is as moot as it was a mystery.
Bottom line, WWE publicly announced a four-to-six-month window where potential future top stars would be provided an opportunity to shine. As has been the case for years, the stars in question appear subject to being unfairly de-emphasized following a halfhearted push.
Should Daniel Bryan and Cody Rhodes—both of whom were new faces at the top of the WWE in Cena's absence—be relegated to the midcard, this will have been the opportunity from hell.
Bryan and Rhodes have been pitted against authority figures who barely held up their end of the bargain in taking babyfaces seriously.
WWE is currently going head to head with the exponentially growing NFL juggernaut on Monday nights. Ratings of WWE's top storylines are hardly a reflection of their temporary top stars.
But with Cena unceremoniously (and prematurely) returning to the WWE for a rehab assignment in a World Heavyweight Championship program, it seems as if WWE is in panic mode.
WWE's almost formulaic pattern of plucking proven talent from dormancy at the first sign of adversity was evident even before Cena's announced return.
Following a poor two-month stretch of pay-per-views that have failed to crown a new WWE champion, WWE responded to customer complaints and year-low ratings by announcing the return of Shawn Michaels in a guest referee capacity.
His presence in a secondary role will actually benefit the ongoing Daniel Bryan experience with Bryan set to receive a more pronounced main event rub from a bona fide legend.
Michaels is part of a rare breed of wrestler who is able to stay retired. This begs the question of what his role would be in this scenario if he wasn't of such a breed. In any event, Bryan's should feel indebted to self-restraint in pro wrestling, uncommon as it may be.
Cena's uncharacteristic contention of a secondary championship will buy extra time for Bryan's continued quest in becoming a WWE champion. Bryan-Orton-McMahons will remain a top program while Cena gets back in the swing of things against a lesser star in Alberto Del Rio.
But Cena isn't a secondary player, and patience is no virtue in the WWE. It's only a matter of time before he is somehow implicated into the current power struggle. Hopefully, his role is one that enhances surging babyfaces instead of supplanting them.