TYPE’S FINGERTIP FEELINGS: Why Not Cena/Lesnar at Summerslam?
On the December 27, 2016 episode of Smackdown live, John Cena returned to the company after his usual hiatus and inserted himself into the WWE championship match at the Royal Rumble. Why? Because, as he put it, “he’s John Cena.. recognize”
And recognize we did.
We recognized that the WWE took the championship off of a red hot AJ Styles just so John Cena could tie the record for most world championship reigns, only to hand over the title at Elimination Chamber to ignite Bray Wyatt’s storyline with Orton, and then be a part of an angle with his fiancee at Wrestlemania whom he does not want to have kids with and perhaps doesn’t even want to marry despite the elaborate proposal.
Slowly but surely, “Super Cena” has lost his powers at an impressive clip, one that even I have to admit might be taking it too far. A loss to Shinsuke on Smackdown I can understand, as Nak was going for the championship at Summerslam 2017 against Jinder Mahal. A loss to Roman at No Mercy I can even understand, as the WWE has put a lot of time and resources into making Roman a star.
But the opening match at Summerslam? Eliminated quickly in a traditional 5-on-5 Survivor Series match up? Trolling the Undertaker and then buying a ticket to Wrestlemania to face him in a sad impromptu match? That I do not get.
There has to be a good balance between utilizing your biggest draw of the last 15 years and completely phasing him out to give other guys opportunities. I am all for the current roster being able to move on from Cena, but at the same time I recognize the need for Cena as a boost and I think they have wasted some huge opportunities to feature him more prominently, win or lose, on big 4 PPVs.
The narrative is changing before our very eyes. The once “entitled, spotlight hogging, come and go as he pleases, championship match guaranteed” Cena we grew to know is sitting on the sidelines far too often, even when he does show up. Can we say the company has moved on without him successfully? Despite a busy Hollywood schedule, wouldn’t his presence right now help a roster devoid of its champion and knowing its challenger in advance?
We may only have a couple more years of true “part time” Cena before he’s “super part time” Cena, competing perhaps just once a year for Wrestlemania season. The context on RAW does not look favorable right now for anyone hoping to compete against Brock Lesnar for the Universal title. Seth Rollins red hot momentum was stalled a bit with the loss to Ziggler, Bobby Lashley has failed to connect with the fans, Roman Reigns was teased as the next man up but the company continues to have him lose to Brock and put that off even further. The eventual pay off for Roman has long expired and there is no tangible reason to put him in another match with the Beast. Even Braun Strowman, who has gained some momentum back, seems pre-mature for a cash in announcement ahead of time.
So why not Cena? Seriously…
Since I know people will argue these 2 points let me address them for you.
1.) “He’s done a lot of losing, most notably in convincing fashion to the past-his-prime Undertaker, so how would he possibly be primed to beat Brock?”
John Cena has definitely done a whole lot of losing the last calendar year, but he’s also the most established star in terms of legitimacy to Brock. A quick, fiery promo and delivering in a #1 contendership match would be enough to get people to forget the losses quickly in my opinion. Besides that, the motivation he’d have to finally win title #17 and make history would be enough to believe his best effort was coming.
2.) “We don’t need another part timer beating Brock. When will someone from the full time roster get to do it?”
I would have been all on this side of the argument probably up until a month or so ago but I find it hard to get behind anyone at this point who legitimately deserves to beat Brock. Even though Rollins lost with some controversy, I don’t know how necessary it was to take the Intercontinental title off of him right now. I would have accepted Roman doing it at Wrestlemania if it meant moving on, but that obviously has not happened. I see nothing wrong with letting the best story of any of these play out. People are fatigued with RAW right now and this seems like a perfect spot to let John chase history and then use him as a tool to get someone else over.
And apologies to Seth Rollins, but Cena is easily your biggest Summerslam draw, chasing history in an unusual underdog role trying to slay the beast who looks like the heavy favorite. The promos Heyman could cut in a “does Cena have it anymore” prism would be pure gold and Cena could come back equally as passionate about achieving this goal. Maybe to some of you a story like that is an eye roller, and I’m sure those people exist, but I think this beats the hell out of everything outside of Strowman deciding to cash in MITB in advance and get revenge on Brock.
Speaking of Braun Strowman, imagine him storming down during the main event of this match and taking out Brock instead of Cena for the win? You’d have your full time roster champion and also have Cena continuing to chase history, with a legitimate argument that he wasn’t pinned and deserves another shot. Something like this provides another potenitally dynamite main event at the following pay-per-view, one that if Strowman wins it could send Cena on another hiatus wondering even further if he still has what it takes to get over the hump and beat Ric Flair’s record.
What about Seth?
There are definitely options with him that I don’t think kill his momentum. A program with Roman Reigns would be fun, one that could possibly stretch into the timeline of when Dean Ambrose is bound to return. There are a lot of Shield layers there they can delve into that keep Seth in an important spot before re-entering the title scene.
Cena deserves this spot almost by default. The WWE has made some poor decisions over the last 12 months and have nobody to blame but themselves for no obvious challenger to Brock Lesnar. To commit that amount of time and energy into Roman Reigns for a full year, only to pull the plug twice AND give him another potential crack at the title was irresponsible. Keeping Lesnar the champion this long while having him mostly off of television is irresponsible. Killing the momentum of Braun Strowman against the Beast last September and at the 2018 Royal Rumble was irresponsible. Does ANY of this non sense make you want to tune in to RAW? For years and years when the WWE wanted to build up the next person in line, they had the hottest challenger emerge and take the torch.
That torch no longer exists because management has intentionally put out the flames with their own bad decision making.
Could Seth still turn it around, get himself in the main event of Extreme Rules, win, and challenge Lesnar? Sure he could. I just don’t feel like it’s the best story anymore. The truth is, I miss John Cena and there’s a noticable void in the WWE without him. I miss his passion, even if sometimes it comes off a little too corny and cliche. I’m not asking for the return of “Super Cena” to take the title and be off television for awhile, I just think there’s a built in $$ story with his 17th championship there and now is the right time to sell it. Maybe him returning for the main event of Extreme Rules is a pipe dream, but I sure would not be opposed to him winning.
I am as big a Rollins and Strowman fan as anyone out there, and I believe there time should and will come. Though as of this writing it looks like a long shot, but John Cena’s time is NOW in my opinion!
TYPE YOUR FEELINGS: Would you be open to Cena/Lesnar at Summerslam? Why or why not? What would be the best case scenario if that match was booked for the Main Event?
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