Levin: How Long Will John Cena’s Inevitable Next World Title Run Last?

John Cena will get his 16th world championship at No Mercy, writes David Levin. How long will it last?
Credit: Fruity Pebbles promotional art
Credit: Fruity Pebbles promotional art

We all know what is going to happen at No Mercy. In the immortal words of Dan Patrick, “You can’t stop it, you can only hope to contain it.”

The “it” is John Cena’s date with history at No Mercy, where he’ll eye his 16th world title in what could be his final lap around the ring holding gold.

While Cena’s place in wrestling history is forever written already, tying the Babe Ruthian record of Ric Flair is necessary given the circumstances of SmackDown Live’s depleted roster. There are seven main stars and little else to work with. Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan have been miracle workers so far, producing solid matches, booking the right pay-per-view at Backlash, and keeping fans interested enough to tune in each Tuesday night because AJ Styles is tearing down arenas on a weekly basis.

At some time, the magic will stop. The genie will return to his bottle and Cena will still be holding a WWE World Championship because the company that did not plan for his exit faces another issue of depth and destruction for the Blue team if it cannot be fixed ASAP. Cena helped create this issue when WWE was one entity, now he is in the middle of it again—through no fault of his own—and he has to carry the belt again to help create a better flow. That and taking another stand for himself with gold in tow.

I believe Cena is one of the top 30 wrestlers of all time, but I am not willing to put him in the stratosphere with the likes of Flair, Harley Race, Jack Brisco, and Lou Thesz. I’m not willing to put him in the same category as Steve Austin, The Rock, and Triple H, either. Cena’s rise to fame was inevitable, but it became one of necessity because of the times. The culture of change with fans and social media, the IWC, and other factors made it necessary. Cena was, and still is, such a valuable commodity to the company outside the ring—which is something Austin, Shawn Michaels, and Triple H weren’t at the time. As he continued to make green outside a squared circle, he was rewarded inside its confines.

Don’t get me wrong, he is a great performer, but politics play a role in this ascension just like every other rise to correctness.

Now, with a “New Era” in place and a brand that is solid at the top and frightening at the bottom, Cena has to bridge yet another gap. Jim Ross praised Styles for his in-ring ability and his performance since making his WWE debut at the Royal Rumble. It was very “Cena-like” but it also meant a change in the company guard. The new face that runs the place is once again facing the old face that ran the place. Dean Ambrose is an addition to this confrontation out of necessity as well. In the end, the old guard wins out. It’s fate, destiny, and prescribed reality all in one pill. We all have to swallow it for now. Cena will get his name in immortality and the WWE will move on.

How long the promotion plans to allow him his basking in the sun depends on whether or not it can solve its booking issues with the Blue team—which is why Cena has to win one more time in the first place.

David Levin
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David Levin
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