There is much more to WWE pushing John Cena as the “old man veteran” in the program with Rusev. We reported here on Wrestling News World that WWE wants him to look more vulnerable in hopes he’s more of a babyface. There are also reports suggesting the company is moving him into a role similar to what Bruno Sammartino had when Bob Backlund was champion.
Expounding on all of that, WWE and Cena are locked in a passive aggressive battle right now and WWE is trying to protect themselves by phasing Cena into a role that paints him as less essential while not completely burying him as he is still making them a lot of money.
For those unaware, Cena has a production deal with Leftfield Pictures, who are a “heavy hitter” in the reality TV world. Cena was involved with putting together the 'Wrestling with Death' show on WGN America and is working on helping develop more shows for Leftfield.
WWE caught wind that in meeting with various networks, Leftfield has taken the temperature on what the interest would be in a John Cena reality show. A show that would be done without WWE's involvement or financial participation.
Obviously Total Divas has been largely built on the back of Nikki Bella's relationship with John Cena. Leftfield believes they could have a successful reality show with or without WWE and are hoping to use that as leverage to allow Cena to pursue a reality show on his own while slowing down his WWE schedule, but still working for them if they'll allow it.
We’re told Vince McMahon does not want to set the precedent that a current WWE superstar can go get their own reality show without WWE's involvement. If anybody would have the leverage to pull it off, it's Cena, but it's not a certainty by any means. As long as Cena is under contract, WWE would have the right to block the show.
Cena's people are posturing like he'd consider leaving WWE when his deal is up to pursue TV and movies full time if WWE is going to stand in the way of those kinds of opportunities.
It's been a tricky thing because Cena is usually the ultimate company man and feels like he's earned the right to pursue an outside reality show if he wants.
So far though, it's too early for anything to have even been brought to WWE for it to be shot down to begin with, but it's created a situation where both sides know that day could be coming and that's why you've seen the sudden shift in Cena's portrayal (as the “old man veteran").
Internally there's been a lot of confusion about why WWE would want to take Cena's character in that direction, but very few are aware that Cena has been pursuing his own reality show without WWE, let alone that WWE found out about it.