WWE star John Cena reportedly has a very specific way he wants to be utilized when he returns to the … [+]
If John Cena has his way, he’ll never be WWE Champion again.
According to Sportskeeda’s Tom Colohue, the 16-time world champ has “no desire” to pass Ric Flair for the most world title reigns in pro wrestling history:
“According to multiple locker room sources, Cena is open about the fact that he has no desire to overtake Flair’s record. Experienced locker room members have stated that Cena’s only desire within the WWE at this point is to work in storylines that enhance the careers of other wrestlers. For example, he is reportedly very proud of the work that he was able to do with the United States Championship open challenge several years ago.”
Cena hasn’t wrestled in more than a year, last competing on Raw in January 2019 in a Fatal 4-Way match to determine Brock Lesnar’s opponent at the 2019 Royal Rumble. Although Cena did appear at WrestleMania 35, he didn’t wrestle on the show after wrestling just eight total matches in 2018, and most of his recent bouts have indeed come against stars who could benefit greatly from working with someone of Cena’s caliber and star power.
The aforementioned Fatal 4-Way match featured three rising stars in Finn Balor, Baron Corbin and Drew McIntyre while Cena’s other recent televised bouts include a slew of names who got the “rub” by working with Cena, including Becky Lynch, Andrade, Braun Strowman, Roman Reigns and Shinsuke Nakamura. Most of those highly anticipated dream matches—like his singles matches against Strowman, Balor and Nakamura—happened with little to no build as it sure seemed like Cena was more than happy to put over WWE’s up-and-coming stars. Cena did the honors for both Nakamura and Reigns in 2017, a wise move to help cement “The Big Dog” and “The Artist” as main eventers. The former face of WWE told Collider this week that he has been pondering retirement for his three years and his goal moving forward is to “contribute” to WWE while he still can:
“That’s been three years of hard conversations with that dude looking back in the mirror and I’m at peace with where it’s at. I want to contribute where I can. I’ve even talked about coaching or mentoring. Like I said, it’s the environment I feel the most fluid, so I can sit down and talk to you about WWE as long as you want to talk, but what I don’t want to do is take somebody who has spent 50 bucks on a ticket for themselves, their partner, their families, they bought souvenirs, they bought popcorn and paid for parking and have look at me like, ‘He used to be something.’ You know?”
The last time Cena held the WWE Championship was in February 2017, when he lost the title to Bray Wyatt at Elimination Chamber after a reign that lasted just 14 days. Cena, of course, has entered that territory in which he really doesn’t need to be challenging for world titles anymore, especially because his appearances are becoming so rare that any match he has will be treated like a big deal. Exactly when Cena’s next match will be, however, isn’t clear. As Cena’s acting career continues to take off, he’s made it quite clear that movie studios don’t want him wrestling while acting due to the possibility of injury delaying production.
That hasn’t prevented Cena from being linked to a potential in-ring return in the near future, though.
Cena himself has said he plans on being at WrestleMania 36 while one report notes that Cena wants to do “something substantial” at the pay-per-view, meaning a full-fledged match as opposed to just a random segment. According to Paul Davis of WrestlingNews.co, current plans call for Cena to be in a marquee match on the show, though there is no obvious opponent lined up for him:
“I asked a WWE source about Cena and I was told that there are big plans in the works for him but nothing has been locked in yet… The word from people in WWE is that Cena will likely be wrestling on the show.”
In 2019, Vince McMahon blamed the downturn in WWE’s earnings on “superstar absences,” an obvious reference to Cena’s recent hiatuses from WWE. With no Cena and only sporadic appearances from stars like Ronda Rousey and Brock Lesnar, WWE has really struggled in the star power department over the past few years when only names like Lynch, Reigns and Seth Rollins have truly been able to make some real headway in route to becoming bigger stars. None of those names, however, is as big of a star as Cena, who has become a household name in Hollywood and should bring a new legion of fans with him whenever he returns to WWE.
There has been speculation that Cena would be a prime candidate to win the 2020 Royal Rumble and potentially set up a blockbuster title match with either Lesnar or Bray Wyatt at WWE’s flagship pay-per-view. But other more likely matches have emerged for both stars, with “The Fiend” likely on track for a bout with Reigns while Lesnar has a lot of potential opponents on Raw. So, even though Cena is expected to be back on WWE’s programming in the near future, his pursuit of a record-breaking 17th world title is not expected to be a part of the story that WWE will tell as his career begins drawing to a close.
A WWE source told Colohue the following about what Cena wants to do at this stage of his career, noting that Cena’s respect for Flair is a big reason why he doesn’t want to win the world title again:
“There’s so much respect. They look at each other and see the generational talent, right? Sometimes records or streaks should be broken. Ric’s all for it. John isn’t. He doesn’t want it.”
Another source noted that the most likely to break Flair’s record is his daughter Charlotte, which means that—even though Cena may wrestle at WrestleMania 36—there’s no clear direction for him at the pay-per-view as of yet.
Regardless of when Cena does come back, though, the clock is quickly ticking on his legendary career.