After watching the opening two hours of Monday Night Raw this week, I hope and pray the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view is as exciting and telling as the Gauntlet Match we all witnessed. WWE has to keep the momentum moving as there is still six weeks until WrestleMania 34 in New Orleans.
What the company did on Monday night is leave the door open for new programs it can develop over the next month-in-a-half to guarantee the best card possible in the Big Easy. John Cena figures to be part of the mayhem, but where the 16-time world champion falls in line is still a mystery.
Oh, by the way, for a wrestler who is now named the “free agent” Cena isn’t as free as it would seem. Monday nights have been his residence of late. Will “The Champ” ever return to Tuesday nights and stir the pot on SmackDown Live?
If I am reading the Magic 8-Ball, I am being the answer is highly unlikely. Cena had a solid match with Seth Rollins that stole the show Monday night. While all the praise have been given to Rollins for his “Ironman-like” performance, don’t forget Cena was just as impressive. Fans have waited for this kind of scenario where one star makes a show. Rollins achieved wrestling bliss with the help of Cena and Roman Reigns.
What happens to Cena now? Will there be a situation ripe for him after Elimination Chamber? Will a feud develop while inside the Chamber match? Will Rollins and Cena rekindle the fire from before? Does a series with Braun Strowman seem possible before the “Monster Among Men” sets his sights on Roman Reigns following WrestleMania 34?
Cena is in situation he recognized in his interview following the Gauntlet Match. Kudos to WWE for having in match interviews like it was an NBA-style contest. He said he has many things on his plate and he must focus on his time in the ring. It’s another rebirth of Cena of sorts – the man who knows his time is quickly coming to an end. Hollywood is calling. He is moving past the daily matches and house shows. The sand in the hourglass is moving at lightning speed.
And up-and-coming performers are ready to step over – or better yet through him to grab the brass ring.
Don’t get me wrong. Cena is far from over as a top draw in this business. WWE still has faith in his appeal to have him as one of the three finalists in the Royal Rumble match and to have him go over Finn Balor to make it to the Elimination Chamber event. Should Cena agree to a potentially change of scenery, there are options available to him.
Bobby Roode talked about Cena last week. The three-headed monster of the current United States Champion, Jinder Mahal and Randy Orton is a product of not knowing what to do with three superstars. Mahal and Orton cannot renew their recent rivalry because fans are over and done with it. Cena and Mahal would be a show-stopping event. If somehow Mahal captures the United States Title before WrestleMania 34, it would give Cena the match he needs – and defending America is what Cena does best.
Roode, should he turn heel, would be another interesting opponent.
It’s ironic that Orton and Cena are still very much past of WWE’s landscape, but appear to be the supporting cast members they tried to squash in year’s past. Now, both need a truer identity. Orton will bide his time before jumping to the dark side. Cena will fight the calls for a transformation and continue to do what he does best – bring in cash from pushing merchandise and appearing in the main event picture.
For the time being, WWE still needs Cena to help transition to what looks like a better future within the company. If the match with Rollins on Monday meant anything, it is he can still put on a very good match. But until the company decides his best path, Cena will still be part of the upper echelon of talent with no real place to land.
It sounds odd writing that Cena might be the most underrated player in this game, but it’s true. Now he has to decide what is best for him. Helping talent get over has become his trademark since the United States Title Open Challenge. It would be a good move to keep him on this path while he is still a viable option for the writers on Monday and Tuesday night.
I doubt Cena makes a move to the blue brand. But in my opinion, it’s the best option he has to impact the company that has helped him become the icon he is.