It hurts being John Cena.
Even when he's technically considered healthy, he's on the road for the better part of 300 days a year, likely dealing with lesser injuries while routinely headlining everything from house shows to pay-per-views—all while filling up his proverbial bump card at an accelerated pace.
The 36-year old superstar's minor eye injury is the latest in a string of recent ailments that proved to be far more serious.
Cena's body has shown obvious signs of declining, especially in recent years, with significant injuries sidelining the once-unbreakable top star.
In 2012, Cena underwent arm surgery to remove bone chips from his arm. The surgery forced Cena out of action, with Ryback taking his place in the TLC main event against CM Punk.
Last year, following SummerSlam, Cena once again went under the knife to correct a triceps tear that caused his elbow to balloon to the size of a Worth softball.
Cena's history of neck problems and pectoral tears is all in a day's work for an all-world talent of his workload, but each new ailment brings to light the sobering reality that John Cena's time as a perennial main event attraction is nearing its end.
Sure, WWE can soldier on with Cena—who has a knack for his razor-quick recovery time—as its resident Superman. But Cena's body is sending a message that, one way or another, will force WWE to begin booking him more like the Undertaker.
Cena as a special attraction will extend his career. It's impossible to think of him as an occasional wrestler given his cookie-cutter mantras of "never give up" and "hustle, loyalty and respect." His usage since WrestleMania 21, when he first became a WWE champion, has been second to none.
It's the plight of a WWE poster boy to work injured, return from injury early and basically go until he's physically incapable. Bruno Sammartino knows this plight all too well, as he explained returning early from a serious neck injury during a WWE.com interview:
I spent a month in the hospital and for a while it was touch and go because the doctors told me I came within a millimeter of being paralyzed from the neck down. Vincent J. McMahon kept calling me at the hospital because he was very concerned. They had a match scheduled between Muhammad Ali and Antonio Inoki. The thing turned out to be a dud. They just weren’t selling tickets. But Vince had invested a lot of money with closed circuit, so he wanted to schedule a return match between me and Stan Hansen. I wasn’t in the best condition, but I came out of the hospital and started to train because there was not much time.
John Cena will not replicate Sammartino's track record of being a headlining superstar for two decades. If WWE continues to book Cena like Bruno, he won't be a headliner for the next two years.