I can’t believe it has been 8 years.
8 years ago, right around the time, The Rock returned to announce that he was the host for Wrestlemania 27. Usually, when we see a host for Wrestlemania, they come in, do a few segments, and are done. However, this one was different. It ultimately led to a major feud that would last one year, leading to the Main Event of Wrestlemania 28.
For those of you who aren’t privy to the story, John Cena was extremely critical of The Rock for walking away from the WWE to go to Hollywood. Not only did The Rock walk away, but he basically cut off all ties from the sports entertainment business, making very sporadic visits (maybe once every couple of years). When The Rock returned, we finally got to see the two face-to-face. There was a lot of back and forth between The Rock and Cena, to the point where we almost forgot that John Cena was facing the Miz in the main event of Wrestlemania. It was in that main event that The Rock got himself involved and ultimately screwed Cena of the match, and thus leading to their “Once in a Lifetime” matchup at Wrestlemania 28.
So, some of you might be saying, “John Cena is a hypocrite. He walked away from Wrestling to go to Hollywood too.”
There are quite a few differences.
The Rock started sporadically disappearing from the WWE in 2001 to film movies. At that point, he had only been in the WWE for 5 years. Now, in those five years, he had literally done it all. He main evented three straight Wrestlemanias, was the WWE Heavyweight Champion, and was among the top stars the company had. He finished his time in WWE in 2004, ending his stint in the WWE at nine years, and only 32 years of age.
Cena, on the other hand, is just hitting that part-timer status. It wasn’t until around 2017 that he started talking longer breaks for side projects. The difference being, Cena truly has given the fans everything he has. If 2017 is when we declare Cena a part-timer, he has been on the WWE Main Roster for 15 years at that point, and was 39 years old. This is the same age that Stone Cold officially retired from wrestling.
Of course, I am biased. I’m a card carrying, Fruity Pebble wearing Cena fan. On top of that, I was an Austin kid and grew up hating The Rock. I don’t consider Cena a hypocrite at all at this point. Cena joined the Undertaker in passing the torch to Roman Reigns in the summer of 2017. A torch that he grabbed on his very own when he beat JBL at Wrestlemania 21, and was officially handed (in the form of a beer) by Stone Cold Steve Austin at the Hall of Fame in 2009. In comparison, The Rock had ‘the torch’ passed on to him by Hogan at Wrestlemania X8, and Austin at Wrestlemania 19.
The question now is, what is next for Cena? He has a history of coming back, winning, and knocking down potential future talent. A lot of eyes point to Samoa Joe and the United States Championship. Both of these superstars have a history. They trained together in California, and while they went their separate ways, both were at the top of their game of their respective companies. Another direction could be Kurt Angle’s retirement match. Kurt was John Cena’s first match, and Cena inducted Kurt in the Hall of Fame in 2017. It would be only fitting that Cena retires him.
And then, there is that looming 17th World Championship. Cena tied Ric Flair at the Royal Rumble in 2017 with his 16th World Championship. When that happened, it was inevitable that he would beat it. Will the WWE give Cena the ultimate rub and let him pass Flair as the greatest of all time? Does Cena have one more full-time run in him?
Only time will tell in all of this. However, out of all of the part-timers out there that can come back, Cena is the one that I am anticipating most. He still has a lot to offer, and maybe, just maybe, he will get a great reaction from the crowd when he returns – although, he’ll still get the Kurt Angle treatment with the “John Cena Sucks” rendition of his song.