Mr. Money in the Bank returned Sunday in what concluded a memorable Money in the Bank night for the WWE.
John Cena stole the spotlight from Roman Reigns as the 16-time world champion officially announced he was back.
The fans welcomed Cena back with roars and cheers as the WWE world knew they were in for a summer of Cena.
Vince McMahon,CEO of WWE, has a storied trend of bringing back the legends as pay-per-view events roll around. According to Sports Illustrated writer Jimmy Traina, Cena could be met with some backlash.
“The cliché ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ is more prevalent in pro wrestling than anywhere else; the WWE Universe has not always been kind to Cena—and that’s an understatement,” Traina said in an article in his weekly posts “Traina Thoughts.”
But why bring Cena back now?
The last time the WWE world saw Cena, he said his farewells as he wandered off into the Hollywood sunset. He played the lead villain in “F9,” the ninth installment of the Fast and Furious franchise. Cena also took roles in other movies and is set to have another role in DC’s upcoming movie, “Suicide Squad.”
Cena seemed to have moved on and left the WWE behind. Erik Beaston, writer for the Bleacher Report, made it clear that Cena has always had a home at WWE in his article, “John Cena's Return; Riddle Addresses Goldberg Rumors?; Kofi Talks New Day Heel Turn.”
“That he is returning to the company, presumably against its top star, is a testament to his love for an industry he championed as a main event act for over a decade,” Beaston said.
Cena immediately propels WWE viewership and draws household attention. July 16 marked the first time since the start of COVID-19 that fans were allowed back for events. In 2020, Raw saw a decrease of 22% according to Wrestlenomics researcher Brandon Thurston.
“I think WWE is a hybrid of both live sports and scripted programming, so if all other things are equal, the "all ratings are down" effect should be afflicting them less so than other scripted entertainment and more so than other live sports,” Thurston stated in his article, “WWE TV Ratings No Longer Reflect Popularity.”
That being said, Cena is the movie star and the biggest name in wrestling. He draws crowds and it is no coincidence WWE brought him back. Cena’s return is occurring approximately a month before SummerSlam, one of WWE’s biggest events.
Cena is one title away from breaking Ric Flair’s record of most championships in the WWE.
His dispute with Roman Reigns runs deep in the WWE universe and that will continue when Reigns and Cena go head to head for the Universal Championship on August 21 in Las Vegas.
The chance that Cena has been waiting for finally arrives.