Will John Cena Wrestle on WWE Raw or SmackDown Again in 2019?

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistAugust 24, 2019

John Cena wrestling again before the year is through doesn't appear to be too likely.
John Cena wrestling again before the year is through doesn't appear to be too likely.Credit: WWE.com

John Cena has been conspicuous by his absence on WWE programming in 2019, though it's hard to blame him for taking time off from wrestling while he focuses on acting along with other endeavors.

Over the last decade and a half, he has virtually accomplished it all within the world of WWE. His historic 16 world title wins, two Royal Rumble victories and multiple WrestleMania main events have cemented him as a first-ballot Hall of Famer and an all-time great.

That said, it's evident that in-ring retirement is on the horizon for Cena based off how infrequent his appearances have become since 2015. He is more of a "part-timer" now than at any other point in his career, raising the question of whether we'll see him lace up the boots again in the remainder of 2019.

Cena hasn't wrestled a match on WWE TV since the January 14 when he lost a Fatal 4-Way on Raw. Despite originally being advertised for the Royal Rumble, he was pulled the night of the pay-per-view, with WWE citing a storyline injury he sustained at the hands of Drew McIntyre as the reason why he couldn't compete.

A match with McIntyre would have made sense for WrestleMania 35, but in a strange turn of events, Cena was left off the card altogether. Although he did shockingly show up at the spring spectacle, it was for a talking segment with Elias, where Cena reprised his role as the Doctor of Thuganomics.

The leader of the Cenation disappeared from WWE until Raw Reunion in July. He gave zero indication on that show of when fans could expect to see him back in action or what his future holds for him as an active competitor.

Cena's last run with WWE earlier this year didn't last long due to his life outside of the squared circle being busier than ever before. Although he wasn't involved in anything of note, he did help elevate Becky Lynch and Finn Balor for the short period of time he was around for.

WWE likely brought him back in an effort to boost its record-low ratings and not because he was ever intended to be a focal point on the road to WrestleMania. To be fair, there aren't many matches left that are worth him returning for that haven't already been done.

It's no secret that the company has more talent on its roster than it knows what to do with and therefore shouldn't be calling upon part-timers such as Cena to take television time and opportunities from up-and-comers who need it more.

While Cena being around this fall wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, he is better off staying on the sidelines until WWE has a significant plan in place for him.

It's worth noting that WWE randomly added The Undertaker to its upcoming SmackDown taping at Madison Square Garden but reportedly not because of poor ticket sales. Rather, his return has been in the works for a while, according to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t SEScoops' Anutosh Bajpai), meaning an appearance from Cena might not be out of the question, either.

WWE tends to rely a little much on stars of yesteryear to sell viewers on its events, but Cena has proved to be the exception. He has been around a lot less than the likes of Undertaker, Triple H, Batista, Brock Lesnar and even Goldberg in 2019, so it's apparent he'd rather pick his spots than show up without purpose.

John Cena @JohnCena

So so thankful for @WWE being in my life. Sometimes “you can’t see me” but I’m always closer than you think. Love all of you and thank you for a wonderful evening. Tonight is another chance to be part of something so special #onedollarbet

From a quality standpoint, Raw and SmackDown have been noticeably better as of late. Regardless of why that is, it's encouraging that WWE is taking the proper steps in improving its programming without moving backward and resorting to the same old status quo.

Whenever times got tough previously, WWE didn't hesitate to put the spotlight on Cena. He was tried and true for so many years that the company knew it could never go wrong with him on top.

Needless to say, the days of that being the case are long gone, and Cena has also realized that. There really isn't an appropriate time for him to have another run before 2019 is over, unless he's representing Raw or SmackDown at Survivor Series like he did in 2017.

Credit: WWE.com

To put it simply, WWE doesn't need Cena, and Cena doesn't need WWE.

We're years removed from when Cena was last a fixture on WWE TV, yet it's still strange to say that we're living in an age where Cena isn't prominently featured on Raw and SmackDown. As refreshing as it has been to see fresh faces in the spotlight, there will always be an opening on the roster for the franchise player whenever he decides to resurface.

In an age where there are so few real attractions remaining in wrestling, Cena will forever be among them. In his absence, one can only hope that WWE will continue to build up the talent of tomorrow so we won't be left wondering when a star the caliber of Cena is on his way to back to rescue Raw and SmackDown from the creative rut it often finds itself in.


Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.