John Cena to Make 1st WWE Appearance Since WrestleMania 33 on July 4 SmackDown

John Cena's highly anticipated return to WWE programming has been announced.

On Tuesday's episode of SmackDown Live, WWE announced Cena will appear on the July 4 show:

Cena was last seen in the WWE realm when he and Nikki Bella teamed up to defeat The Miz and Maryse at WrestleMania 33.

That match was punctuated by Cena asking Nikki to marry him in the middle of the ring.

Since that time, Cena has been away working on other projects, including hosting the Fox reality show American Grit.

Prior to his hiatus, Cena was arguably turning in some of the best performances of his career both in the ring and on the mic.

The 40-year-old veteran beat AJ Styles for the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble, tying him with "Nature Boy" Ric Flair for the most world title reigns of all time with 16.

Cena went on to drop the belt to Bray Wyatt at Elimination Chamber, but he feuded with The Miz shortly thereafter and engaged in some entertaining and memorable promo battles.

Now that Cena will be back in the mix, however, it may not be long before he shifts his focus to the WWE Championship and begins his pursuit of breaking Flair's record.

Despite Cena's status as a part-time Superstar, he remains a major asset to WWE and is always placed in situations of the utmost importance.

While Cena isn't anywhere near The Rock in terms of crossover success in Hollywood, he has made a smooth transition and aided in WWE garnering more mainstream appeal.

That is of great value to chairman Vince McMahon and Co., and it is yet another reason to potentially move Cena directly into the main event scene.

Regardless of how Cena is utilized in the coming weeks and months upon his return, his presence should provide a major shot in the arm during a time period that is often slow by WWE's standards.