“Let’s go, Cena!” “Cena sucks!” These are chants we have not heard since the start of the new year.
His shoulder surgery had a projected recovery timeline of nine months, but the WWE universe knew that super Cena would be back ahead of schedule once again. The question was, how soon?
The news has now been confirmed, John Cena will return on the May 30th edition of Raw.
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With fans anticipating the return of the decade-long babyface of the sports entertainment juggernaut, thoughts immediately turned to the storyline possibilities for Cena. After all, the last time he competed in the WWE, the roster looked significantly different.
Since the start of the calendar year, Sami Zayn returned to the main roster after suffering an untimely injury to Cena in last year’s United States Championship open challenge. The incredibly popular AJ Styles popped the crowd at the Royal Rumble, with the hottest tag team of New Japan Pro Wrestling, Doc Anderson and Luke Gallows, joining Styles on Raw.
The Vaudevillains and Enzo and Cass received their call-ups, and subsequently advanced to the finals of a tournament to decide the number one contenders to the Tag Team Championships. Baron Corbin shockingly won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal in his main roster debut, while Apollo Crews showed off a few moves in squash matches on Raw.
With a host of new faces around the locker room, the stale product of WWE has been rejuvenated, and the return of John Cena brings exciting new match-ups to the small screen.
Here are the three best storylines for Cena upon his return.
Regain the United States Championship
This is undoubtedly the easiest storyline to pursue, and the most beneficial to the company as a whole.
Kalisto has held the United States Championship for a while, and has done nothing to elevate the status of the title. The championship has been rendered an afterthought, appearing in pay-per-view pre-shows with little to no attention by the WWE universe.
This is a drastic difference from Cena’s championship run with the U.S. Title, which became one of the highlights of 2015. His open challenges produced incredibly entertaining matches with the likes of Stardust, Neville, Zack Ryder, Dean Ambrose, and Cesaro, and allowed for memorable debuts of Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens.
His rivalry with Seth Rollins also showed flashes of an intense feud filled with quality matches, nearly equating the U.S. Championship with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
With the U.S. Title discarded and cast aside once more, Cena is the only man capable of reigniting competition for the championship, and restoring the prestige of the mid-card belt.
Feud with Reigns and Styles over WWE Championship
This is highly logical, and would be incredibly interesting to watch for the WWE universe. After all, John Cena is only one title win away from tying the all-time record of Ric Flair, and has been searching for that elusive victory for nearly two years.
As the late addition to the feud between Reigns and Styles, Cena could provide a fresh perspective to the conflict, and reshape the storyline in a better direction.
Reigns could represent the new generation, having been brought up through the NXT system and made a name for himself as the enforcer of 'The Shield'. Styles exemplifies the independent circuit, epitomizing the wrestlers who rose to the top of the wrestling scene without WWE. Cena could then play the homegrown veteran, bred and fed by the WWE long before NXT, returning to defend his territory from the youngsters and foreigners alike.
This would create a heated conflict, uniting fans of every side of wrestling. Styles and Cena are proven workers in the ring and on the microphone, with enormous fan bases. Triple threat matches over the title will serve only to elevate Roman Reigns in his everlasting pursuit for the approval of the fans.
Turn heel and return to 'Doctor of Thuganomics' gimmick
This is the most unlikely of all possibilities, as WWE would undoubtedly lose its golden boy in the media and for merchandise sales. However, from a wrestling perspective, this is the choice that fans have been begging for.
'The Doctor of Thuganomics' character made John Cena into a megastar, with fans genuinely loving the gimmick to the point where Cena had to turn babyface. In wrestling, there is perhaps no greater compliment.
In an era where top heels are lacking from the WWE, Cena can quickly fill that void. His chemistry with Kevin Owens was undeniable during their feud, and the two can link up on the same side as heels to defend against babyface challengers. Their characters provide invaluable opportunities to push them as heels, but with sympathetic reasons, such as Owens fighting only for his family.
The new era of the WWE should be more than NXT stars being promoted to the main roster. The match qualities of the company have certainly improved over the past few years, but the storylines have fallen behind. With the bold decision to turn Cena heel at last, WWE can rectify their mistakes with the greatest of ease, and return the company to the heights of Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock.
How would you book John Cena's return to WWE? Comment YOUR suggestions below!