John Cena's time as WWE's top dog is nearing an end. That notion is enough to draw the ire of every fan that loves him, as well as every fan that hates him. Those that believe in him don't want to see him go, and those that despise him believe there's no way he will ever truly lose the spotlight.
After all he is competing for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at No Mercy, which doesn't seem like something a guy on the way out would do. But John is chasing number 16. He wants to tie Ric Flair's record, which would forever etch his name in pro wrestling history. It was already going to be there of course, but to be mentioned in the same breath as The Nature Boy is an honor that very few men can lay claim to. Cena will be one of those men.
However all of this must be tempered with the fact that Cena is indeed looking to expand his horizons outside of the business. Every top guy before him had to know when to start slowing down, but many of them were only good at wrestling and nothing else. Crossover success eluded them, so they remained wrestling famous and nothing else.
But this is not Cena, who has established himself as a mainstream commodity. He's done that through the Make-a-Wish Foundation, talk show appearances, and movie roles, one of which could be opening the door to much bigger things.
Comic book creator Mark Millar is very interested in John as the man to portray his character Superior, on the big screen. While Cena's name was mentioned before as a candidate to play Superman, the fact is that was likely just internet chatter and nothing more. He's always had the physique to be a hero, but that was no reason to randomly cast him. The role had to fit.
Superior may fit him perfectly. The character is a great mix of action and comedy, both of which John does well. He's a kid trapped in an adult's body, and that's something else that John seems to do well. This may not be the success story of Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, but it could be enough of a hit to put John on the map like never before.
Indeed, this may be the breakout film to boost Cena's Hollywood career to the next level. If it happens and if it makes money, then Cena will become a much bigger star than he is now. He has personality and appeal that's perfect for the mainstream, and he could become a household name sooner rather than later.
So where does that leave WWE's top guy? Cena is still the man, and though the company is portraying him as a part-time veteran, his number could be called again any time he's needed. When it is, he will step up. If he's to win the strap at No Mercy, then he will keep it as long as he wants. If he decided that the bright lights of Hollywood aren't for him after all, then he could go right back to business as usual and reign over WWE for another five years.
But the ironic part of this is that John could become what The Rock became. He could find new life on the silver screen as one of the biggest movie stars in the world. He would come back whenever WWE needed him, whether it was to sell a pay-per-view or work a big match. He would be the guy that comes in to promote his latest project, then leave when he was finished. He could be this generation's Rock, and the company would surely love to hand the reins back to him every time he returned.
Of course this was John's primary beef with Rocky; The Great One's disappearing act was the exact issue their rivalry was built on. Many fans actually took John's side, if only out of respect to the business. Rocky left and Cena stayed. It was brilliant booking and it worked because it was true. But what about now?
Is Cena not allowed to continue his life outside the ring? Would fans be upset if he left because they love him or hate him, or both? Perhaps the better question is does he deserve to become the 16 time world champion just because WWE is booking it for the sake of adding John's name to the record book?
Ric Flair is his own man; he was not created under Vince McMahon's watch. But Cena was, so giving him the championship means a WWE born star will share the all-time record. It also means a WWE born star will one day break the all-time record.
WWE respects pro wrestling history, but the desire to make pro wrestling history tends to be more important. Taking the record from Flair is not to slight him as much as it is to crown Cena as one of the greatest of all time. McMahon will not be able to resist it, and if it doesn't happen at No Mercy, it will happen eventually.
Hollywood may or may not have to wait.
For latest WWE News, spoilers and rumours visit our Sportskeeda WWE section.