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Published on April 13th, 2020 | by Jerry Doby


Is John Cena’s WWE Career Over? 

The strangest WrestleMania of all time is in the books, and the landscape of WWE has changed significantly because of it. Brock Lesnar, the perennial part-timer, has surrendered his WWE Championship to the newly-minted Drew McIntyre. Goldberg has wrestled for perhaps the last time ever and has surrendered the WWE Universal Championship to Braun Strowman. The legend of the Undertaker continues, and his phenomenal record at the world’s biggest professional wrestling event now stands at an incredible 25-2. These stories are all huge in their own right, but none of them are likely to be the biggest takeaway from the weekend when the history books come to be written. 

What nobody seems to be talking about right now is the very clear suggestion that we’ve seen John Cena compete in a WWE match for the very last time. Perhaps that’s because his ‘match’ wasn’t a match at all. The Cena vs. Wyatt match was a trip through fantasy land, taking aspects of the past of both competitors and replaying them inside a dream world created by Wyatt. We saw the dawn of Cena as ‘The Prototype’ coming up against Kurt Angle in his debut match, only this time the role of Angle was played by Wyatt. We saw a replay of Wyatt vs. Cena from their initial confrontation several years ago; only this time, Wyatt came out on top. Most importantly of all, we saw Wyatt in his current guise as ‘The Fiend’ putting Cena down for the three count and then standing over his broken body. Before the final blow was delivered, a speech that Cena made several days earlier on WWE RAW was replayed. That speech was important. 

In the speech, Cena made a promise. He said he was going to go to WrestleMania and end the career of the most over-valued, most over-hyped WWE superstar of all time. He never mentioned that superstar by name. By replaying the promo in that context, WWE made it clear that Cena was talking about himself. The internet wrestling community has long held the opinion that Cena has been pushed too hard during his career, and that his achievements have been exaggerated and handed to him too easily. In the end, Cena went down without a fight. He wasn’t just beaten by Wyatt. His entire past was invalidated. He was humiliated and then effectively erased from the WWE timeline. WWE has never done anything like this to anybody else before, and it was an astonishing thing to see even if the presentation was confusing and off-kilter. 

The end of Cena’s career has been coming for a while now. He’s no longer a full-time performer, he’s in his 40s, and he has a Hollywood movie career to think about. He’s barely featured in WWE for the past two years. Despite that, he’s one of their most bankable stars of all time. Even without a regular TV presence, Cena is one of the performers who will have their own official game when the range of official WWE online slots launches later this year. We can think of no better metaphor for him. To get the biggest possible win from an UK casino site, you need the most valuable symbols in that game to line up for you. For the past two decades, WWE has consistently been able to make the most money when the symbol that is John Cena appears in their line-ups. In online slots terms, Cena is a jackpot. If he’s really gone, his departure leaves a void at the top of the WWE tree. 

Perhaps he’s been informed by the conduct of the Rock when it comes to persisting with wrestling. When the Rock made his grand comeback to WWE several years ago – which, ironically enough, saw him go face to face with Cena – he promised that he would never stay away for so long again. Time has proved that statement to be a lie, but that may not be the Rock’s fault. He got hurt wrestling Cena and had to miss filming time on a movie he was signed up to make. His director and his studio were unhappy with him, and it’s understood that not wrestling is now a condition that’s placed on him when he signs on the line to make new films. The Rock might still love the business, but he can’t partake in it if he wants to stay active in Hollywood. The conditions placed on Cena are likely to be the same. That might even explain why his WrestleMania match involved virtually no physical contact with his opponent. 

In truth, Cena’s ability to get involved in the WWE product has been restricted for a while now. The first time that WWE went to Saudi Arabia for a major show, Cena was front and center, performing the PR duties that have always been expected of him by the company in the past. After the Khashoggi incident, he pulled out of his next planned Saudi appearance and has refused to get involved with the Saudi shows ever since. It’s bad PR for Cena’s film career to go and do business in a country that generates so much negative press, and so it keeps him away. For most of the rest of the year, he’s too busy making films to commit to several weeks of wrestling television at a time. All Cena can reasonably be expected to do is turn up at the big shows, but the older he gets, the less he can do even when he’s there. Now it looks like he might have decided to go out now and give Bray Wyatt as big a rub as possible rather than fading further into the background with each passing year. 

In pro wrestling, nothing is ever over for good. People who claim to be retired inevitably come back at least once. A multi-million dollar offer for one more match is always likely to be accepted if the conditions are right. Cena, however, doesn’t need the money and may no longer have the inclination. On top of that, he was buried by the ending of his encounter with Wyatt in a bigger way than he ever buried any other performer during his long tenure as a regular member of the WWE roster. The wrestling career of John Cena appears to be over – and almost none of us even noticed it happen. 


About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, and internationally published arts & entertainment journalist. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture as well as the United States Press Corps.

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