For the first time in over a decade, John Cena doesn’t have a clear path to WrestleMania. That’s the story, at least, that WWE and the 16-time world champion are trying to tell ahead of the big show in New Orleans.
Cena, of course, will find his way onto the WrestleMania 34 card, likely in one of the event’s biggest matches. He might no longer be a “full-time” wrestler, but he works more dates than Brock Lesnar and is a bigger draw than anyone else on the roster.
The idea that Cena might not have a WrestleMania match is silly. The notion that he doesn’t have a logical opponent, however, is not, especially if The Undertaker has truly called it quits.
Cena is out of the WWE Universal Championship picture after losing a No.1 contender’s match at Elimination Chamber. On “SmackDown Live,” he earned his way into the six-man WWE Championship match that’ll take place at Fastlane on March 11. AJ Styles is expected to retain the belt and face Royal Rumble winner Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleMania.
Seth Rollins and Finn Balor have both seemingly earned shots at The Miz’s Intercontinental Championship, and it doesn’t make sense for Cena to compete in a multi-man match for a secondary title. He’s above the United States Championship at this point, and he’s certainly not going to challenge for a tag team title.
So where does that leave Cena on the biggest pay-per-view of 2018?
For a couple of months, there have been rumors that he would finally face The Undertaker on WWE’s grandest stage. It looked like the build for the long-awaited feud would finally begin on “Monday Night Raw” when Cena asked for a match with the Deadman, except the 40-year-old explained that such a match wasn’t possible.
The promo appeared to be nothing more than a swerve in the storyline, meant to postpone the eventual meeting between two of the most important figures in WWE history. That is until Sports Illustrated’s Justin Barrasso reported Tuesday night that Cena is now scheduled to face a returning Rey Mysterio at WrestleMania 34.
According to Barrasso, Cena requested to work with either Samoa Joe, who is out with an injury, or Mysterio, who appeared in the Royal Rumble after leaving WWE three years ago. The Undertaker has reportedly been ruled out of performing at WrestleMania.
Any WrestleMania match that features Cena is a big deal. He made the U.S. Title more relevant than ever when he defeated Rusev at WrestleMania 31, and Cena helped give a mixed tag match one of the most interesting storylines for WrestleMania 33.
But John Cena vs. Rey Mysterio? That’s not a match that makes a ton of sense in 2018.
Cena’s star power would be much better served in a match against a wrestler that’s looking to rise up the ranks of WWE. It’s what Cena did in recent years when he had matches against the likes of Bray Wyatt and Rusev in their first-ever WrestleMania singles matches.
What about a match with Elias? He’s never competed at WrestleMania and has gotten over so well with the crowd that he was part of the Elimination Chamber title match. Even a second match with Rusev, who has become one of the most popular members of the “SmackDown Live” roster, could work.
Braun Strowman vs. John Cena is certainly one of the biggest matches WWE can make. If WWE already has big plans for Strowman at WrestleMania, it’s hard to figure out exactly what those might be.
It’s certainly possible that Vince McMahon has something up his sleeve for Cena that no one’s expecting. Almost no one seemed to know that a returning Shane McMahon would face The Undertaker at WrestleMania 32 until WWE’s chairman made the match official on “Monday Night Raw.”
Perhaps The Undertaker is indeed coming back for another WrestleMania, giving fans what might be the No.1 “dream match” of the last 20 years that’s never come to fruition.
Or the rumors are true and Cena will face Mysterio, indicating the idea that he doesn’t have a clear path to WrestleMania is more real than we thought.