From the WWE Rumor Mill: John Cena to return to SmackDown Live
Will the Face that Runs the Place return to the Blue Brand soon?
What’s the story?
Cageside Seats reports that John Cena could return earlier than expected to SmackDown Live. Though Cena wouldn’t be returning as a full-time competitor, there is talk about bringing him back for a few special appearances.
In case you didn’t know...
Cena was a full-time wrestler with the WWE from 2002 to 2015 and rarely missed any WWE programming or live events with exception to injuries. However, in 2016, Cena began wrestling on a part-time schedule for much of his time since returning from injury.
The last time Cena was seen on WWE programming was when he and Nikki Bella defeated The Miz and Maryse at WrestleMania 33. After the match, Cena proposed to Nikki and the two have not been seen on TV since.
The heart of the matter
According to Cageside Seats, the main reason why the WWE are considering bringing back Cena early is due to the decline in viewership.
The past two episodes of SmackDown reached record lows, similar to the episode prior to the brand split’s revival. The April 25, 2017 episode of SmackDown averaged 2.49 million viewers and the viewership decreased further on the following episode on May 2, 2017, which had 2.3 million viewers.
Tonight’s episode of SmackDown may be a key factor in the decision of the WWE to bring Cena back to TV for a few episodes. If tonight’s episode sees a further decline in viewership, then the WWE will likely bring Cena back as soon as possible.
A portion of the WWE’s decline in viewership could be attributed to the NBA Playoffs which is still ongoing as the semi-finals of the Western and Eastern Conferences conclude. Tonight’s game will be Game 5 in the series between the Houston Rockets and the San Antonio Spurs.
The WWE are right to be concerned about their viewership decline in the past two weeks, but that may not be the entire issue.
In the past three weeks since the Superstar Shakeup, SmackDown has been on a massive downward trend. Meanwhile, the big angles on SmackDown are the feud between Randy Orton and Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship, AJ Styles and Kevin Owens feuding over the United States Championship, a tag team feud brewing between the Women’s division, and Breezango heading into a feud with The Usos for the tag team championships.
So while the NBA playoffs may be one good reason to consider when discussing SmackDown’s viewership, another issue may be the storylines, characters, and the placement of wrestlers on the card.