Despite his supposed impending departure from WWE to shoot another movie on January 20, John Cena remains a valid possibility to win the Men’s WWE Royal Rumble. The 16-time champion is back on television right now, and he’s reminding WWE how valuable he can be to them. That’s a huge problem, and not even their “fresh start” could save them from making a monumental mistake like having Cena win the Rumble.
We’re only a few short weeks into the supposed new era of WWE, stemming from a “fresh start” with The McMahon Family back in charge on a weekly basis. So far, we’ve seen plenty of great signs that WWE is making changes for the better. With superstars like Apollo Crews and Mustafa Ali finding themselves within clawing distance of championship gold, there’s no denying things seem different.
The biggest indicator of their commitment to these new beginnings will come on January 27, 2019 at the annual WWE Royal Rumble. The event will feature two marquee matches where 30 superstars will compete for the right to challenge the champion of their choosing at WrestleMania 35. While the Men’s Rumble currently has favorites like Drew McIntyre and sleeper picks like Samoa Joe, there’s no denying the potential that Cena has to be that last man standing.
The most obvious argument against Cena as a potential Royal Rumble winner is the fact that he has said himself that he won’t be there. In a recent interview, Cena stated he’s only scheduled to appear on Raw for the next two weeks before heading to Canada to film his next movie. It’s a very plausible story, but never forget that professional wrestling is filled with “plausible stories.” It’s not uncommon for inaccurate news to come out in order to help preserve a surprise.
As far back as October 1, 2007, John Cena suffered a devastating torn pectoral muscle. When the prognosis was made, reporting from inside and outside of WWE stated Cena would be out of action for as much as an entire year. This made him a longshot for the next year’s WrestleMania, and confirmed that he wouldn’t be in the 2008 Royal Rumble. At least, that’s what we thought. After less than four months on the shelf, John Cena made a shocking return as the final entrant in the 2008 Royal Rumble and went on to win it.
If Cena has even the slightest inkling he’ll be a potential surprise entrant or winner at the Royal Rumble, it makes all the more sense that he’d insist he’ll be gone from WWE by then. With WWE’s recent ratings dip, they’re clearly desperate to find a fix. As far back as July 2018, there were reports that Vince McMahon didn’t like being on television anymore. As someone who tends to be in remarkable shape for his age, the 73-year-old CEO can’t really hide how old he is anymore, but he showed his desperation by appearing to kick off WWE’s “fresh start.”
With Cena riding high on publicity from Bumblebee, WWE could look to cash in on the ratings that would come from another championship pursuit. If Cena were to win the Rumble, he would be looking for the fabled 17th World Title. Cena tied the record long-held by Ric Flair of 16 World Championship by defeating AJ Styles for the WWE Championship at the 2017 Royal Rumble. Even WWE Hall of Famer Bubba Ray Dudley recently chimed in about Cena’s potential future title reign:
“There is going to be a large portion of wrestling fans who might not want to see John win since they don’t want to see Ric Flair’s record broken. Listen, it’s tied right now, so the best way to get out of that is to have Flair endorse it. You have that final sit down between John Cena and Ric Flair where John is torn whether or not he really wants to do this. Does he really want to break the record out of respect for Ric? Then Ric is the one who talks to him and smacks him in the face and tells him, ‘You go out there and break that record.’ When he wins, Ric Flair hands him the championship. That’s a mega moment. That’s a WrestleMania moment!”
A Royal Rumble win by John Cena could help spike ratings in the short term and set up a marquee match for WrestleMania 35, but it would also spit in the face of every fan who is watching WWE’s “fresh start.” If WWE chooses to go with John Cena despite the multiple capable options on both Raw and SmackDown Live that could truly benefit from the win, it will be the final nail in the coffin for some fans. It would show them once and for all that WWE doesn’t really care what the fans think; they’re just going to do what Vince McMahon wants.