1. If you read Traina Thoughts regularly and listen to the SI Media Podcast, you’ve heard me say a few times over the past year and a half that while I kept up with WWE, it was tough to watch two- and three-hour shows without fans in the arenas.
Obviously, this was not WWE’s fault and there was nothing the company could do about it. They just had to ride out the COVID-19 storm like every other company.
The WWE Universe was able to attend WrestleMania back in April, but that was a one-off. After that, WWE immediately went back to doing shows in Florida’s ThunderDome.
Fans technically returned for Friday’s edition of SmackDown. But the REAL return of fans in the building came Sunday night at Money in the Bank. And the REAL return became official thanks to another return.
When John Cena showed up at the end of the show, the Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, exploded.
It was Cena’s first appearance on WWE television since WrestleMania 36 in April 2020, when no fans were in attendance.
What made this moment even more notable was seeing the 180 that WWE fans have done on Cena. The cliché “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is more prevalent in pro wrestling than anywhere else; the WWE Universe has not always been kind to Cena—and that’s an understatement.
But the Cena pop Sunday was special. We haven’t seen a WWE crowd react like that to anything in years. And he certainly had fun with it.
The 44-year-old has been with WWE since 2000 and has done it all with the company. I’ve always felt like Cena hasn’t gotten his full due as an all-time great. His in-ring body of work speaks for itself, but he’s been tremendously entertaining away from the ring. Whether it’s due to his appearing on talk shows, his hysterical performance on Total Bellas or his impressive display of comedy chops in movies, it’s impossible not to like Cena.
He also came in studio to do the SI Media Podcast in 2018, and it was phenomenal.
Seriously, how could you not love this guy?
The timing of Cena’s return and the fans’ return couldn’t have been better, with SummerSlam coming up in Las Vegas on Aug. 21.
Cena is expected to main event the show with a match against Roman Reigns, who has also gone through many ups and downs with the WWE fans.
And just like that, the WWE is back.
2. If you're still in awe of the Jrue Holiday steal and Giannis alley-oop from Saturday night, you'll enjoy this video compilation of calls of the play from around the world.
3. Someone stole Younghoe Koo's Jeep over the weekend, but all the Falcons kicker wants back is his cleats.
4. ESPN's Karl Ravech set a fan straight in a perfect way this morning after he was mistaken for Matt Vasgersian, who called Sunday night's Red Sox–Yankees game with Alex Rodriguez.
5. This is a rough one for Chris Paul.
6. The latest episode of the SI Media Podcast features an interview with New York Post sports media columnist Andrew Marchand.
It's been a wild couple of weeks in sports media and we covered it all. Marchand updates us on where Maria Taylor stands with ESPN, breaking down the entire Taylor–Rachel Nichols saga and ESPN's responsibility in creating the mess.
We also discussed Stephen A. Smith's offensive comments about Shohei Ohtani and why they happened. Marchand also weighed in on the future of NFL Sunday Ticket, broadcasters not traveling for road games and more.
Topics covered in the "Traina Thoughts" segment of the podcast with WFAN's Sal Licata include MLB's possibly banning the shift, Giannis's NBA Finals performance and the story about NBC wanting James Gandolfini to replace Steve Carell on The Office.
You can also watch the SI Media Podcast on YouTube.
7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: Obviously, I'm biased because I'm a Yankees fan, but I can't tell you how much I enjoyed watching this old-school video of Joe Torre cursing umpires like there was no tomorrow.
Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on Apple, Spotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.