The hiatus John Cena is believed to be taking after losing his match against Roman Reigns at No Mercy is not something new for WWE fans. Frequent breaks for television and film projects have been the norm for the past couple years to the point Cena’s “part-timer” status was a talking point in his feud with Reigns.
The 16 time World champ has told us he’s leaving before, too. After a dark match speech about needing time off following Extreme Rules 2012, he was back for the next pay-per-view (PPV). We still don’t really no why he left his armband in the ring after losing to AJ Styles at SummerSlam last year. So even with a curtain call-type farewell to the Staples Center crowd on Sunday night (Sept. 24), it’s hard to know what to think about Cena’s future.
But WWE wanted us to believe this was different from all those other departures. On Raw Talk, Renee Young asked about a scene she called “pretty eerily reminiscent of Roman Reigns and The Undertaker at WrestleMania - this goodbye you seemed to have in the ring”.
And the fans in attendance were swept up in it, chanting “Thank You Cena” as if he was retiring (or an independent wrestler who just signed with WWE). The man himself probably didn’t quell rumors by tweeting his thanks back to the faithful:
But while this was definitely WWE teasing a Cena farewell just as much as they tease Taker comebacks, it was also clearly something different for John. He shot down the retirement talk in this clip from Raw Talk:
“I just think my role is different. I had a podcast with Edge and Christian and I said the same thing. Regardless of whether I had outside opportunities or not, I’m 40 years old, and I have 15 years of track experience here in the WWE. And not at a normal level. At an elite level. And I don’t know how [much] longer I can keep it up.
If I had opportunities outside, great. If I didn’t - I gotta know when to say when, at that point. And I’m not done, but I don’t know if I can keep going at the pace that I’ve been going, and I think that’s a major thing for me to try to consider. This is my family. This is my life. I eat, breathe, and sleep WWE. And I don’t think anyone — whether they like me or they don’t — I don’t think anybody can argue that.
So I guess I’ll be like a weird Batman character. When they shine the light, I’ll come a-runnin’.”
But the reference to his recent quotes about being physically unable to work a full-time road schedule for the company he loves went along with the idea that Cena was stepping aside as the top guy, even though he doesn’t really want to. And moments before that answer, he was tearing up discussing taking this loss and offering a few words to the new top guy in the same building where he won his first WWE title “many moons ago” at WrestleMania 21.
Is a man who’s been a fixture of the main event scene for so long we’ve had time to grow to hate him and then fall back in love with him really going to be a special attraction-type guy like The Rock or Triple H? Will he work a Brock Lesnar-esque schedule of 4 - 6 PPVs a year?
We’ll have to wait and see. But this did feel different, even if he’ll be on E! every Wednesday, and probably back on Raw sometime between Survivor Series and Royal Rumble.
So we’ll say “Thank you, Cena”, and prepare to head into a new era.