Well, John Cena haters, a heel turn didn't work out too well for him. Cena is dealing with some type of Achilles heel injury that could put his immediate future in question.
My initial reaction is, Cena will battle through the injury and still take on Ryback at Extreme Rules. He still worked matches on the European tour after the injury happened. They were six-man matches where he was said to do very little, but he was still able to stand out there. That's a good sign, or at least it's a lot better than if he couldn't even get to the ring. And the pay-per-view is still three weeks away.
What happens at the pay-per-view could be another story. This is a bigger deal because Cena is holding the title. He isn't the challenger and can't just give that spot up like he did in October, ironically, to Ryback.
The worst part is that it's post-WrestleMania and the lineup is running thin on star power. There aren't many faces who could fill the void.
The Undertaker is the best attraction because we see him the least, but you can only expect him to do so much. If he works a grudge match at Extreme Rules involving The Shield, be thankful he does that to increase value to the card.
Chris Jericho is always a good face or heel. It was my understanding Jericho versus Ryback at WrestleMania was at one point discussed but obviously passed on.
Triple H is WWE's best option out of the current faces. Triple H is always there and I suspect after his Extreme Rules match, we could see more of him given the current state of the roster. His number one focus every day is WWE. The same can't be said for Jericho or The Undertaker.
That's it in terms of current faces who could move the needle in a top spot for a certain time frame. Yes, Randy Orton and Sheamus fans―I know they're still active. I left them out for a reason.
Guys such as Daniel Bryan and Kane are over. I don't know if they're over in the way that would sell pay-per-views if they were built in a story with Ryback.
On the other end of the spectrum, WWE has a lot of heels. This is because the company doesn't have a lot of stars. It's easier being a heel and guys get tossed in that role until there is confidence that something can be built around them as a popular face. This doesn't mean WWE doesn't have a lot of talented guys, but few are stars.
Out of those heels that could make the jump to being a face and contend with Ryback in the WWE title picture is CM Punk. He's been gone over the last few weeks resting, as WWE had been putting the weight of the company on him for the last two years.
The most intriguing scenario to me is Brock Lesnar versus Ryback. Lesnar would actually go over as a monster face if he was available enough. He would have to be there every week for that to be worth the movement of him from heel to face.
Let Lesnar finish his feud with Triple H on the same night Cena drops the title to Ryback at Extreme Rules. Then, move forward with Lesnar and Ryback while Cena rests and have Triple H stick around to work with another heel to keep star power on WWE programming.
One of the keys to WWE's longevity is its ability to make new stars. This was huge in its war with WCW when the established stars jumped ship and WWE had to rely on the new generation. It will have to do that again. Not to win a war against TNA, but against everything else the audience can spend their time and dollars with.
That is why I think something like Brock Lesnar being back in the title picture would generate buzz. He's a huge name that rings bells beyond the pro wrestling crowd. He also hasn't been in a pro wrestling world title picture in a decade. You can't say that about The Undertaker, Jericho, Triple, CM Punk, Bryan, Kane, Orton, Sheamus or anybody else that would ever come up in conversation. It would be fresh, or as fresh as WWE can realistically be on short notice.
Plus, he has Paul Heyman, and he can sell anything, including Ryback as a champion being challenged by BROCK LESNAR (in Heyman voice).