Since the Monday night announcement of John Cena's neck injury, and then subsequent neck surgery on Tuesday seems to be a great topic of discussion in the Internet wrestling world. Every website has new and up-coming news on Cena's status, with updates on everything from MRIs to the transverse incision Dr. Maroon performed on his neck.
However, no one mentions the impact that John Cena's Injury and being on the shelf for a long time is going to affect the WWE Nation as a whole- and in the area that WWE brass sees as the measuring stick of their shows quality- NIELSEN RATINGS.
We can all look back to the Attitude Era, when Stone Cold Steve Austin left his main event post to go under the knife. In that time, they wrote off Austin storyline by getting hit by a car at the Survivor Series. This lead to an open door for the Rock, Triple H and Mankind to up their own stock, and dominate the Championship scene and bring in huge ratings for Monday Night Raw (Although the ratings were already through the roof- I miss this time in wrestling)
But looking at the current state of pro wrestling- Whose going to pick up the ball and run with it?!?!?
Smackdown: Triple H is champion. Undertaker and Edge are entangled in a very involved storyline, Lady Guerrero is doing a better job at GM, and not to mention Shelton Benjamin, Jeff Hardy, MVP (who I can think hold for hold, promo for promo- is the next big thing) and Jimmy Wang Yang throwing down in Classic PPV-style matches on Friday Nights. Don't Sleep on Smackdown!
CM Punk: I like the way he won the championship and I enjoy the way he is able to "hold it down" and make him self look good by defeated already established "Big Men". Promo-wise, CM punk is getting better, but still doesn't flow naturally enough to make non-wrestling fans believe that he is the current Heavyweight Champion of the Wrestling World. Some Critics might argue that hes better than Randy Orton, but the key point is CM Punk is a face, who still by in large is at mid-carder status. You need MIC SKILLS to be a champion face because its your JOB to put butts in the seats. He is an very established mid-carder, but a great in-ring performer- What he needs are good promo's in order to make fans really think he's intense enough to be wearing the Gold. (If Hulk Hogan never cut promos, he would be a Blond Matt Morgan or Festus)
Batista: Already the "man" on Smackdown and then traded to Raw, he is by far the most established Main Eventer they have on RAW. Being on Smackdown for 3+ years, where wrestling is more of the booker's focus and not "entertaining skits" Batista was able to carry the company without many intense before match Promo's. The Wrestling match was enough of a performance for The Animal. On Raw, where he has to cut promos and build up rivalries starting off fresh. This is the chance now that John Cena is out of the picture for Bastisa to hone in on his mic skills, build up fueds and set him self up as the dominate main eventer. The Storyline is said that Cena's inury was due to Batisa Bombs at Summerslam- Batista needs to build up his character and his raise his star status to build up to Batista/Cena 2- the rematch, especially after this injury has WRESTLEMANIA 3-type hype written all over it!
The WWE Mid-Carders- During the Attitude era, Stone Cold, Rock Triple H, Mankind, Undertaker and Kane were the big stars. The mid card during this era were the TLC boys- Dudleys, Hardys and E&C, and obvisouly the WCW infusion of Beniot, Guerrero, Malenko and Saturn. At the current point and time, the WWE roster from all shows have tremendous talent. Between Smackdown's MVP, Hardy and Shelton and Raw's Kofi Kingston, Cody Rhodes and Dibiase, and of course ECW's John Morrison, there is a HUGE hole ready to be filled by one or any of these talents. Which superstar is seasoned enough to take John Cena's spot- Who is going to step up the plate and regulate?
John Cena's Injury can, in the short-run be a rating-buster. It's true that on Live television he gets more heat (boooo!) than any other main eventer, but the mass of his die-hard fans, the children and females in their 20's, are what make up the crucial demographic that makes or breaks the final Nielsen numbers. Males 18-40 will always watch wrestling, its the Casual fan that WWE needs to attract. John Cena is the magnet. With Randy Orton's newest set-back, Who is going to take the Torch and light the post-John Cena Future? Will Smackdown become the dominate brand on Friday nights? Will we see CM Punk in Subway and Gillette commercials? Which mid-carder is going to take a chance and become 2008's model of "the Ringmaster to Stone Cold" fashion? Can Bastista cut a promo that involves more than the typical "I will Win" script?
The Door on Monday Night Raw is wide open- the question is who will Crash the Party and start making some waves on the USA network?!?!