Regardless of how most feel about the man, it is clear that the man that Santino Marrella calls “Jawn Chey-na” is most assuredly back. Back to winning titles, pleasing young fans, being the poster boy for WWE partnerships, and dividing opinions among legions of viewers. Last night, he punctuated that comeback with a victory and another run with the World Heavyweight Title, and while some may eyeroll (I know I initially did) the thought of another Cena title reign, his comeback will actually be best for business.
In winning that title, Cena wrestled a halfway decent match last night against one of the more underrated workers in the company, Alberto Del Rio. He threw around some dropkicks (using one to counter an aerial move from Del Rio), took a nasty tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, traded submissions with Del Rio, avoided using all of the 5 Moves of doom, and even pulled off a Tornado DDT. Del Rio and Cena have good chemistry in matches, and it was evident. From a wrestling perspective, his comeback was good relative to what he used to do and the formulaic wrestler that he used to be. The match saw good performances from both men, and a crowd reaction that Cena rarely meets—a minority of boos.
It seems that a significant part of the crowd in Miami, at the very least recognized what Cena brings to the company and how his presence adds to the show. It also seems that many of them respect Cena for actually being a man who lives out what he says. Cena has often said that he’s committed not to his own stardom but to making the WWE a successful company, and with where he returned that is exceedingly clear. Although the lone dominant figure in the last 10 years of the history of the WWE Title, Cena did not return to disrupt that landscape. He came back to add prestige and star power to a weak World Heavyweight Title picture that has seen Alberto Del Rio be the stalwart heel with few sustained challenges.
Cena’s return invigorates the World Heavyweight Title scene and brings prominence back to the belt, while allowing other stars to ascend the ranks and become household names at the same time. Cena’s return and relative avoidance of the spotlight is admirable. In his return, he’s strengthening weak parts of the product, while allowing Daniel Bryan to continue his surge to becoming a household name as a face. The World Heavyweight Title picture has been ravaged by injuries and vendettas, (specifically against Dolph Ziggler and Christian) so the space is in dire need of a strong, stable presence like Cena to help it get back to the prestigious level that it maintained even as recently as a year ago. Let’s not forget that Cena can also make a new star if Damien Sandow cashes in on Cena and then has a memorable, career-igniting feud. This version of Cena—the one that isn’t constantly being shoved in the face of fans while in the WWE Title picture—is a palatable one. Many fans have complained stated that Cena isn’t the problem, it’s more of how they use him. Now that they’re using him to potentially strengthen the Blue Brand and the overall product in subtle ways, you may see some people appreciate him more.