Drew McIntyre is current the top champion in WWE. And while that’s a pretty neat accolade to have, it still falls a bit short of achieving part-time status in WWE. Part-timers like Brock Lesnar, Undertaker, and Goldberg can come into WWE for a few matches a year, not have to work matches on Raw or SmackDown, sometimes cash in on that overflowing Saudi money, win the occasional top championship in WWE, and then go home for a few months or more. It’s a pretty great deal for any pro wrestler.
With WrestleMania 37 coming up on April 10 and April 11, rumors of John Cena’s return are swirling around. We haven’t seen the former face of the company on WWE television since WrestleMania 36’s Firefly Fun House match against Bray Wyatt, but it sounds like there is a pretty good chance he’ll be back for this year’s event. That’s right, John Cena has now earned the ultimate status of being a once-a-year wrestler for WWE.
Back around 2011 and 2012, Cena used to criticize The Rock for working such an extremely limited schedule with WWE, and some folks are now pointing out John’s hypocrisy. But as Triple H recently told The Michael Kay Show, despite those past remarks, John has earned the right to become a part-timer himself:
“It’s funny that you find yourself when you’re in the thick of it, being that guy that says, ‘Look I’m here every day. This is my house and my place.’ But then you get to where John Cena is, you get to where The Rock is, you get to where Taker is, or Flair, or anybody else, where you’ve earned the right with fans to come back every now and then and tip your cap, and for them to say, ‘Man, thank you for all of that,” and for you to relive those moments. And you know, John has earned that. Whether he spoke badly about it in the past and meant it or whether he didn’t, he’s earned that right. He’s earned that right to pick his spots.”
I’ve written plenty of words trying to explain the plight of current wrestlers in WWE, who more often than not have been forced to take a backseat to part-time stars over and over again for the last decade. But that doesn’t mean I can’t understand and agree with the point Triple H is making here. There are plenty of part-time stars like Kurt Angle who I enjoy seeing come back to WWE. These part-time stars each have their own large fan base who feel the same way. It’s definitely fun to relive some of those classic moments from years ago; nostalgia can be an overwhelming force.
When I do criticize part-time stars in WWE, it typically comes from a place of WWE not deploying them in moderation, or failing to mix them well with the current roster, or when old-timers blame today’s stars for silly things that either aren’t true or are largely out of their control.
But there’s no doubt that John Cena has earned the right to be a part-time WrestleMania star. He’s one of the biggest stars in the history of the company, so in some ways it’s preposterous to doubt his place in WWE. Cena has moved on to new career priorities now, but of course he’ll always be welcome back in WWE whenever he wants to make an appearance. The same goes for Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, etc.
It’s ultimately up to Vince McMahon to find the best way to mix the current roster with these part-time stars.
What do you think is the best role or match for John Cena at WrestleMania 37?