It's 2018 and John Cena has never looked so mortal. Having staged abstract moments of retirement at SummerSlam 2016, Royal Rumble 2017, and No Mercy 2017, on top of candidly revealing that his full-time status in WWE is over, the 16-time WWE Champion would like to you think that his time in the company is terminal.
But that can't be true because he's winning the 2018 Royal Rumble and challenging AJ Styles for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 34.
At 40-years old, it would appear that Cena is simply too old to headline WrestleMania. But that's a narrative that needs to be euthanized. NXT "rookies" like Samoa Joe, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Bobby Roode are all nearly Cena's age but none of them have a single world championship reign. Oh, but there's more. Randy Orton, Cena's Ohio Valley classmate, won the Rumble last year en route to nabbing the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 33. At age 46, Triple H did the same except actually went on main event WrestleMania 32. And at the ripe age of 42, Ric Flair put on the greatest Royal Rumble performance of all time.
The point is, all of this jargon about Cena being "too old" is the fakest of news. In fact, a wrestler may not reach his prime until he starts getting his prostate examined.
Not only is Cena age eligible, but ironically, Cena is due to another run. Big Match John hasn't had a significant WrestleMania contest since WrestleMania 29. Instead, he's been sent to bolster WWE's mid-card. And as a company man, Cena has done exactly that, compiling WrestleMania matches against a budding Bray Wyatt, a rookie Rusev, and last year's Total Divas exhibition match.
But Cena's generosity doesn't just show up in April. Since 2014, John Cena has doubled his rate of clean losses having suffered high profile defeats to Brock Lesnar (SummerSlam, 2014) Kevin Owens (Elimination Chamber, 2015) Alberto Del Rio (Hell in a Cell, 2015) AJ Styles (SummerSlam, 2016) Dean Ambrose (Smackdown, 2016) Shinsuke Nakamura (Smackdown, 2017) and Roman Reigns (No Mercy, 2017). So, if you hear anyone lamenting the fact that John Cena always wins, please tell them it's not 2011 anymore.
Despite racking up losses, John Cena is still John Cena and WWE may not be able to resist an ad campaign featuring their biggest star from January to April.
However, Cena's Rumble win will actually be an echo by February. Instead, the trumpets will blast a historical tune: John Cena is hunting Ric Flair. Having already tied the Nature Boy at 16 World Championships, Cena's quest for number 17 is a story that even the most casual of WWE fans can get invested in. And for WWE, that's a simple way to make a lot of money.
And if that weren't enough, it's Cena's WrestleMania dancing partner that seals this deal. AJ Styles is the best wrestler on the planet. He just is. Given that he and Cena have already crafted not one, but two masterpieces, a WrestleMania match with Cena's legacy on the line is the perfect way to finish their trilogy.
Plus, no one really wants to see Cena and The Undertaker. I get the impulsive appeal, but this one needs to be avoided. I mean think about it; Cena and Taker bury their faces in each other's crotches on multiple failed Tombstone attempts. Do you really want to tarnish two legacies in the same moment?
It's time for John Cena to resume his throw atop WWE. He doesn't have to stay there long, but it's a chapter that must be written.
Want more Royal Rumble manifestos? Here you go: