John Cena announced Wednesday night that he would be traveling to Birmingham, Ala., to undergo shoulder surgery, putting his availability for WrestleMania in serious jeopardy.
Birmingham, of course, is where the renowned sports surgeon Dr. James Andrews conducts his practice. While we don't know specifics on what the operation is going to be, the reports right now are that it could be a torn rotator cuff, which could put Cena out for at least six months.
This continues a crazy streak of bad luck when it comes to injuries for the WWE. Looking back to last year's WrestleMania, all the wrestlers who held a title coming out of the event (Cena, Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, Tyson Kidd, Cesaro, and Nikki Bella) are on the shelf with various injuries, and all may end up missing WrestleMania 32. Add Randy Orton to that list, and things are fairly dire when it comes to the biggest spectacle of the year in wrestling.
It was heavily rumored that Cena would meet The Undertaker in a first-time matchup (or at least the first time since Cena truly became Cena) at WrestleMania. This obviously would have been a huge match that the show was built around as they try to fill the monstrous AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. That match is now out the window. Who knows what they will do to fill the void. Maybe they end up going with Sting-Undertaker, though Sting's availability is in question as well. With all of the injuries, WWE is going to have to reach deep if they want a card that is fitting for the stadium.
While they've reached out to part-timers over the past few years, there aren't many part-timers who would be available to be on a show like this, outside of Triple H and Chris Jericho. We know The Rock will be there, but movie requirements cast a doubt on him wrestling. Batista would be the next guy they'd love to have, but Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is starting to film in February, and if the filming runs through WrestleMania, there is no way they would allow him to wrestle. Stone Cold Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels both have shown no interest in coming out of retirement to wrestle at the event in their home state. Which means WWE might have to look within to make the show as big as they want.
People have been begging for years for WWE to start giving more pushes to their mid-card talent. Wrestlers like Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens, Rusev and The New Day have been in that upper mid-card, but haven't been able to break through to be in that true top tier. They may need to be now. Yes, the infusion of talent from Japan helps. I think it's a lock now that AJ Styles gets a big push the moment he arrives, which could be as soon as the Royal Rumble. Shinsuke Nakamura might get a big match at WrestleMania, and who knows who could be called up from NXT to fill the void. While this is certainly a major loss for WrestleMania, it could end up being a blessing in disguise for the WWE, which is now going to be forced to create new stars in the meantime.