I had another epiphany at around one o’clock Wednesday morning after watching Smackdown Live. The new face that runs the place, AJ Styles, will defeat Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Heavyweight Title at Backlash. That might not be news to some of you, but what if I said this was the best way for John Cena to capture his 16th world title which would tie him with Ric Flair for the most title reigns of any wrestler in history?
While Cena is cutting back his schedule, focusing on other things outside the wrestling business, the potential behind a Styles-Ambrose confrontation could be epic – the kind of main event Smackdown Live needs. In the end, however, it will lead to Cena “reinventing” himself after the loss to the Phenomenal One at SummerSlam.
Cena is never too far from the top of WWE’s food chain, no matter how the company tries to move forward without him. The final title reign is inevitable, as it has been talked about since last year when Roman Reigns was chasing glory. WWE cannot allow Cena, who is the company’s greatest investment of all time, ride off into the sunset without another opportunity to wear gold.
In a matter of months, Cena and Styles have written a story worthy of an instant classic. The match at SummerSlam was by far the best of the night and one that could get Match of the Year consideration. I liken it to Cena and Edge and Cena and CM Punk. It’s defining in that the company has wanted to promote younger talent and two of the older members of the company roster can still tear the roof off the arena when they get in the ring. For everything both Raw and Smackdown Live want to be – hip, exciting, fresh, it sometimes takes the veterans to show everyone how it’s done.
The only issue I can see with this scenario is what happens to Dean Ambrose and what does the match between the current champion and Styles do to Dolph Ziggler? Excuse me, but I haven’t thought that far ahead yet.
As fans, we have all wondered out loud what would have happened if Styles had been a mainstay in WWE instead of TNA. Would he have replaced Cena as the face of the company? Would Cena have had 15 title runs? Would we have seen Styles and Edge or Styles and Shawn Michaels? How would the business be rewritten? Those questions are great to ask, but they will never be answered. The great thing about wrestling or any “sport” is we can all wonder “what if” and discuss scenarios until we are blue in the face.
Now, with Styles in the fold, history can be written the way it should have been long ago.
For over a decade, fans wondered when and if Sting would ever get in a WWE ring. That dream was realized last year. We wondered if Daniel Bryan would ever win WWE’s top prize. That question was answered. We waited to see if Roman Reigns would ever conquer The Authority and take home the company title. The beast was conquered. Now, a new favorite – regardless of his heel status – is on the verge of greatness. His only downfall is he already went through the best WWE has to offer to get there.
The best wrestling feuds are the ones that don’t have a timetable, their shelf life is eternal. Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair, Michaels and Triple H, Cena and CM Punk. And now, Cena and Styles. If Smackdown Live wants to create its own niche in history, put the strap on Styles at Backlash and wait for the challenge by Cena upon his return. Only then would a 16th run with the world title be reasonable. Only then would a John Cena title run be worth it, and accepted by the fans who know the importance of history in the wrestling business.
Follow David Levin at @DavidLevin71.
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