As promised, John Cena made his first in-ring appearance of the year as part of last Friday's main event tag team match. Ironically, the man who helped keep Cena's streak of wrestling in the WWE for a 20th straight year alive is Kevin Owens, the same man who made his WWE debut against Cena many, many years ago.
Cena's appearance in the final SmackDown episode of last year came as a surprise since it's one of the rare times that The Tribal Chief has also suited up to wrestle in a match outside of special occasions.
As expected, the highly anticipated return of Cena delivered on all expectations. The 10-minute match (once you remove the entrances and final commercials) saw Cena bring his usual energy and hype to every match he shows up for. More importantly, the ever-selfless and professional Cena gave Owens all the spotlight, keeping his involvement minimal and impactful while ceding the action to his partner. The match ended with Cena using one of his signature moves, the Attitude Adjustment, to wipe out Reigns as Owens used a Stunner to finish off Zayn.
Unfortunately, as much as we loved Cena's return, it also showed that the years have taken their toll on the WWE superstar.
Whether it's a combination of age or his status as one of Hollywood's rising stars, the WWE has been limiting Cena's appearances over the years. This was most apparent last year as Cena only wrestled once and it was probably only to keep his streak alive. We don't think that this will improve in the future, which means Cena is officially a one-match-per-year performance until he retires for good.
It's a bittersweet feeling knowing Cena's going to retire soon, and we hope the new creative head, Triple H, takes his time booking Cena right.
Having Cena work with Owens against Zayn and Reigns was a good move, but the WWE is going to have to give Cena a better opponent with more hype for future appearances. The obvious answer would be to pair Cena with Logan Paul, as the two have teased in recent months. However, the best move is to give the spotlight to a full-time WWE wrestler who could actually use the momentum generated from a match with Cena to draw crowds for the rest of the year.
Speaking of John Cena, the 16-time world champion (a record Cena shares with Ric Flair) is currently filming Peacemaker Season 2. The new DC Studios co-head, James Gunn, insists he isn't recasting everyone, which many presume includes Cena's Peacemaker.