I think most pro wrestling fans will agree, with the exception of a few minor speed bumps, that WWE programming has been pretty solid from top to bottom over the last couple of weeks, with consistent quality from both Monday Night Raw and Friday Night Smackdown.
And it has been that way even without John Cena.
Despite being the organization's top babyface, no wrestler is bigger than the business (sorry Hulk), including Cena, and the ripple effect of his absence has allowed other big-name superstars to capitalize on extended television time, while the mid and lower card have also stepped up to get while the gettin' is good.
But now he's back.
Vickie Guerrero made the surprise announcement earlier this week on RAW, ambushing Alberto Del Rio during a bout against former whipping boy Ricardo Rodriguez, that Cena was returning at the upcoming Hell in a Cell pay-per-view (PPV) for a World Heavyweight Championship title match.
Maybe he is, maybe he isn't.
Coming back for a full blown PPV match on Oct. 27 in Miami -- just nine weeks removed from triceps surgery -- is unrealistic, even for Super-Cena. Assuming he could recover ahead of the expected 4-6 month window, nobody at WWE is desperate enough (I think) for ratings or PPV buys to put him in the ring and risk further injury.
Not when headlining WrestleMania is at stake.
The good news is, he doesn't have to actually compete to make the product better, and that's a testament to how valuable an asset he is to this company. Love him or hate him, he's conquered the "Universe" and gets the smarks in a tizzy whenever he does, well, anything.
So if he's not going to lace up the boots, then what the hell is the point of bringing him back? Well, there are a couple of factors at play. WWE is balls deep in the NFL season and could use a few extra eyeballs on television. In addition, Rob Van Dam -- who was embroiled in a feud with Del Rio at Night of Champions and again at Battleground -- is taking time off.
If Del Rio does something dastardly to jeopardize the Cena match, great, that gives him more heat.
If he loses to Cena thanks to a revenge run-in by Rodriguez, even better. Then Damien Sandow can come down, pin Cena and become new World Heavyweight Champion. Nobody will care if Sandow beats Del Rio for the title, but beating Cena will put him on the map.
And he needs all the help he can get after the way he's been booked lately.
Cena can go down strong in defeat, getting whacked in the triceps with the briefcase or some other goofy finish. The important thing is using his value as a top star to give the rub to everyone and anyone who needs it. That also includes "The Big Gold Belt," which has lost a bit of its luster.
Then Cena can go back to his mansion in "The Sunshine State" until further notice.
How this program plays out remains to be seen; however, there are only three short weeks until Hell in a Cell, so expect business-ah, to pick up-ah, sooner rather than later. It's too early to tease anything for next year's big event, but I wouldn't rule out a sneak peek at Survivor Series.