How’s it going everybody? This week has been a huge week for wrestling as 2016 has started off with some heavy news. There’s been reports of wrestlers from New Japan Pro Wrestling signing with the WWE, the Royal Rumble match will now be for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and the WWE’s plans for Wrestlemania are set to change yet again as they’ve been struck with another huge blow.
John Cena has confirmed via Twitter that he will be undergoing shoulder surgery in Birmingham, Alabama and according to PWInsider, he could be sidelined with a rotator cuff injury which may see him out for 6-9 months.
It really is a huge blow for WWE going into Wrestlemania season and their plans for the event. I’ve talked a few times before about how there was no real indication about what the card was going to look like but I think it was pretty clear that Cena was going to be a big part of it so again, I bet things are getting nutty within WWE’s creative team.
When Seth Rollins went down with his injury last year, it forced WWE to change their plans for the next few months as Seth was obviously the champion and probably set for a big match himself at Mania. I think it was more of a concern with that incident as Seth was the champion and nobody was really ready to take the title from him.
Reports suggest that there were plans for Roman Reigns to beat Seth Rollins at Survivor Series anyway for the belt but Roman was still not over to the level of his push at the time. Now though, things are going much better for Reigns and he really is becoming a top star in his own right.
However, I still think with Cena’s injury that all hands are on deck for the writers. The reason I say this is because if Roman Reigns goes down, who do they have to be the top babyface on the main roster after Wrestlemania season?
Think about it. How many wrestlers can you think of? Dean Ambrose would be one of those guys that they would get behind but only because they have no other choice. When they’ve pushed Ambrose in the past, it’s been more of a reluctant push for him. They’d put him in the main event scene but not a lot was done to protect him while he was there. Therefore when he got out of those title feuds, he was right back down the card.
Now let’s think about the other babyfaces. Dolph Ziggler? Neville? They could give the ball to them but it was not like either of them were protected this week on RAW. Ziggler lost to HEATH SLATER (albeit with interference) and Neville lost clean to Kevin Owens. Who could possibly take these two seriously as main eventers? In fact, the only babyfaces that won on Monday night were Roman Reigns, Becky Lynch and Titus O’Neil. It’s not like they’re going to give Titus a really big push towards the title either (even though I’d personally love to see that!) so as it stands, nobody is close to being over to a top level.
I think it’s probably accurate to say that while the roster is the most talented one probably in the history of the company, it could also be said that this could be the most underdeveloped roster of all time leading into a Wrestlemania in terms of star power. Wrestlemania 2000 was a bad one as Stone Cold Steve Austin and Undertaker were both out due to injuries but at least wrestling was hot around that time and they had The Rock becoming the top star while Austin was out. This time around, they’ve got no-one near to the level of overness that The Rock was on.
It’s a sad state of affairs for WWE in terms of their roster and John Cena does not help with his injury. It’s a blow to WWE’s future plans. John Cena was advertised for the Royal Rumble event and was even on the poster for the show. The chances are that he was going to have a big part of it. I suspect that their plans for Cena would be for him to go up against Roman Reigns for the belt in the main event of Wrestlemania.
I know they did that tease after RAW a week or two ago but there were also reports of Cena going up against Undertaker. To be honest, I didn’t see WWE having anyone else on the main roster to go up against Roman so that’s why I thought it was going to be Cena. They need an active wrestler coming out of Wrestlemania as champion so I just dismissed the Taker rumours and thought that this was the year where Cena was either going to set up his match with Roman as the challenger or was going to get his 16th title reign and his third Rumble win to tie with Stone Cold Steve Austin for most Rumble wins.
It’s very interesting from a business perspective about how much impact Cena will have. There’s no real precedent for Cena being out for an extremely long period of time. Cena’s rehab has been superhuman at times and he really has pulled off some insane injury recoveries in the past! I wouldn’t want to rush Cena back but WWE would probably want him back sooner if the pay-per-view buys, merchandise and TV numbers don’t do so well.
I think from a merchandise perspective, it’s going to be a hard few months. John Cena is obviously their top guy in terms of t-shirt sales and other merchandise. If he’s not around though, it’s not like they’ll be releasing more t-shirts for the foreseeable future as he won’t be around to wear them. I feel that they are going to take a huge hit in that department. John Cena could take on an non-wrestling/authority figure role while he’s injured I guess, in order to keep up his merchandise.
I don’t think there’s any real correlation between pay-per-view buys/WWE Network subscriptions and Cena’s effect on them because again, he’s not really been out for a really long period of time. I remember that John Cena was not booked for the TLC 2011 event at all and the buy-rates went up from the year before but again, that’s very hard to go off because that happened years ago. It’s very hard to say how big of an impact his absence will have.
As far as TV ratings is concerned, it’s not like the ratings are plummeting right now. There was a time after Cena took his break last year that the ratings did drop to their lowest in nearly 20 years but the ratings have rose up in the past month or so, largely due to how well Reigns is getting over.
It’s all really up in the air about what’ll happen from a business stand-point. All I know is that the odds of Roman Reigns winning the Royal Rumble this year have really went up in my estimation. Roman’s doing so well and I think the company will be behind Roman more than ever now that Cena’s out. I think that’s a great thing but there’s not a lot of challengers out there that could really be considered as legitimate main event talent unless you were to dip into the part-timer pool.
Even that is limited though. Undertaker seems very close to calling it a day and his health is really unpredictable at this point. We don’t know how well Sting is physically. It seems that Daniel Bryan will never be cleared to compete by the WWE doctores. The Rock is a movie star that probably wouldn’t have the time to be the champion again. The only one I can think off that would make sense is Brock Lesnar but I don’t think they’d be willing to pay him more often.
I think Roman vs. Brock for the title is really the way to go for Wrestlemania. Brock does have more of a proven track-record for pay-per-view buys and TV ratings than anyone on the main roster but again, it’s going to be a costly endeavour.
For those of you wondering, this will be the first Wrestlemania John Cena will miss since he debuted on the main roster in 2002. That’s incredible if you think about it because again, there’s no real precedent set for Cena’s effect on the buy-rates for Wrestlemania.
It’ll be interesting to see how WWE reacts to this to say the least. Maybe they won’t need to panic depending on Roman but losing a top star is always a bad deal. When you lose a star like John Cena, it could end up being a catastrophic deal for them.
Tweet to @ArmbarExpress to share your thoughts or leave a comment to tell me what you think about this news and what do you think the Wrestlemania 32 card will look like with John Cena out of commission.