Why WWE Should Trade John Cena To Raw For Brock Lesnar
WWE has made Brock Lesnar and John Cena the top part-time attractions on Raw and SmackDown, respectively.
Lesnar’s friendly contract sees him work less than a handful of pay-per-views, a limited number of house shows and the occasional Raw TV taping. Cena’s schedule, however, is more or less based on his budding acting career, which means he could be here today and gone tomorrow, depending upon when Hollywood comes calling.
In fact, Cena is scheduled to take another hiatus from WWE following WrestleMania 33 while Lesnar, as is almost always the case, won’t be around nearly as much as he’s been on the road to ‘Mania, when he’s worked more dates than he has at any point since 2004.
With both men at a stage in their careers where they’re clearly cemented as part-time attractions, it’s time to change things up for Lesnar, who has been virtually exclusive to Raw (with a few exceptions) since returning to WWE in 2012. It’s time to ship him to his former home, SmackDown, in exchange for Cena.
It is, after all, about as even of a trade as you will get.
According to Dave Meltzer of F4WOnline.com, Lesnar and Cena are the two biggest draws in WWE, which would explain their massive salaries, something Meltzer shed some light on in a recent edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter:
As of right now, talent contracts for 2017 as far as what is guaranteed, not including any increases over the guarantees based on merchandise, licensing, house show bonuses or PPV bonuses total $30.6 million. Keep in mind that there are guys on $1 million guarantees that will earn in excess of $3 million, and John Cena has been in the $10 million range in recent years, and while I don’t know his guarantee, it’s obviously nowhere close to that. Brock Lesnar’s guarantee is a significant part of that.
Suffice it to say, Lesnar and Cena have two of the highest downside guarantees in WWE (if not the highest), which is supported by Cena ($9.5 million) and Lesnar ($6 million) topping the list of WWE’s highest paid wrestlers last year. That’s not surprising since both "The Beast" and "The Champ" rank among WWE’s biggest TV draws.
Raw’s average viewership sees a noticeable increase whenever Lesnar is around while Cena’s return to SmackDown back in December helped the blue brand finally generate more viewers than Raw. Overall, though, Raw’s ratings have trended downward since the brand split while SmackDown’s have moved in the right direction.
According to WWE’s Key Performance Indicators, SmackDown’s average rating jumped from 1.62 in the fourth quarter of 2015 to 1.90 in the fourth quarter of 2016. During that same span, Raw dipped from 2.48 to 2.22 even though Lesnar’s infrequent appearances had a positive effect in that department.