Since undergoing surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow back in September, John Cena hasn't competed in a match. He told the WWE Universe two weeks ago that he was cleared to wrestle, but with Survivor Series just a couple of weeks away, he'll have to knock off the ring rust in order to be ready to perform at the pay-per-view.
Most expected Cena to challenge WWE Champion CM Punk at Hell in a Cell, especially since the two of them wrestled to a draw at Night of Champions, but Cena's recovery from surgery didn't go as quickly as hoped. Because of that, Cena was left off the card completely and afforded the opportunity to rest even more.
I don't actually believe that Cena was told he could wrestle a couple of weeks ago like he claimed, because his physical contact has been very minimal since. All he has done is clothesline Dolph Ziggler over the top rope and throw him to the mat, so either Cena simply isn't ready or the WWE is being overly cautious in an effort to make sure he doesn't aggravate his previous ailment.
Survivor Series is considered one of WWE's four biggest events of the year, though, so I have a hard time believing that Cena won't be utilized. Leaving him off a B-level card like Hell in a Cell is difficult enough, but the WWE certainly can't afford to be without him two pay-per-views in a row.
Whether you love him or hate him, Cena is integral when it comes to buyrates.
Since Cena won't be involved in the main event, a traditional five-on-five elimination match, he'll likely have to compete on the undercard, which is something Cena isn't accustomed to. Even if he isn't a featured player on the card, though, Cena can play an incredibly important role, as he can strengthen the overall quality of the event.
Based on the fact that he and Ziggler had a couple of run-ins last week, I have to believe that they'll do battle at Survivor Series. Cena is currently being accused by Vickie Guerrero of having an inappropriate relationship with former Raw general manager A.J. Lee, and Ziggler has stuck his nose in their business, so Cena will likely try to teach him a lesson.
I'd rather Ziggler not lose another pay-per-view match, as he's likely to do against Cena, but losing to Cena would get him more exposure than beating pretty much anyone else. Ziggler hasn't been utilized particularly well since nabbing the Money in the Bank contract, but a feud with Cena would be his highest-profile encounter to date, and it would push Cena from an in-ring perspective as well.
Cena could really do Ziggler and the WWE a service if he puts Ziggler over. Since their feud is really based on A.J. and Vickie, I would imagine that A.J. will accompany Cena to the ring, while Vickie will do the same for Ziggler. They obviously won't stand idly by during the match, and there is a real possibility that they'll become a distraction to both Cena and Ziggler.
I have a sneaking suspicion that A.J. is working with Vickie, Ziggler, Punk and Paul Heyman behind the scenes, so it wouldn't shock me if A.J. and Vickie staged a brawl outside the ring that allows Ziggler to roll up an unsuspecting Cena for a surprising victory. It wouldn't make Cena look weak, since it would be a fluky finish, and it would be huge for Ziggler's credibility as a future world champion at the same time.
Also, it would appear as though A.J. is trying to help Cena, but it would set the stage for her possible heel turn at TLC, where Cena is likely to face Punk. Cena may not be in the WWE Championship picture at the moment, but there is no question that he'll be a key player at Survivor Series in terms of setting up future angles.
The past month has felt fresh with Cena out of the picture, and while he'll be back at Survivor Series, it will be in a very unfamiliar position. Cena is a company man who is interested in doing whatever is best for the product, and a brief midcard feud with Ziggler is the most logical thing for him to do right now.