John Cena might be the last legitimate box office attraction WWE has created. While admittedly during his run, business was never quite at the heights of "The Attitude Era" with sold out buildings every single night and pay-per-view records being set by once in a lifetime stars like "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and The Rock, Cena did keep the ship afloat and sold A LOT of merchandise to younger fans for well over a decade. And since Cena has become essentially retired from the ring, WWE's ratings and ticket sales have flatlined. So with Cena's return last week and the announcement that he'll be appearing for the rest of the Summer, have ticket sales risen again?
Well, it turns out that "Big Match John" is still an attraction for WWE, and recent ticket sales since his Money In The Bank return and the announcement of "The Summer of Cena" (not to be confused with "The Summer of George") have blossomed for WWE. And this is welcome news for the company, as their big return to the road hasn't fetched them big returns thus far in advanced ticket sales.
According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the return of John Cena has had an immediate effect on WWE ticket sales and there's been a "strong walk-up" demand for event tickets since it was announced that Cena would be appearing.
Twitter account WrestleTix, an account that closely monitors ticket sales information for all pro-wrestling companies, has also supported this with a sales chart highlighting the WWE ticket sales before and after Cena's return.
There's definitely an irony to be found here that John Cena was once accused by older fans of driving business away with his strong booking and kid-friendly antics and yet now, in a time where we've seen that indeed, things could get worse, Cena is actually the straw that stirs the drink.
The fact is, Cena himself was never the problem. Cena was a talented and incredibly hard-working performer, who happened to be at the head of it all in an era that just followed the biggest boom period in the industry's history and creative just wasn't up to snuff. It's like blaming Bret Hart or Shawn Michaels for how bad 1995 was.
We can only really assess someone's career and successes by separation of time and now that we're well-removed from John Cena being the big headlining attraction for WWE, we can actually see that he was and is indeed a star that people wanted to see, and that's something that WWE has near none of today.