WWE SummerSlam 2017: The Case for John Cena vs. Jinder Mahal


A trip to SummerSlam is on the line on next week’s SmackDown Live.

John Cena wants a shot at Jinder Mahal at SummerSlam, but, first, he has to go through Shinsuke Nakamura. SmackDown Live GM Daniel Bryan made that proclamation on Tuesday night, announcing the match to take place on next week’s show.

Cena vs. Nakamura is definitely a dream match. We can have a conversation about why this match is taking place on free TV, but that’s for another time. For now, let’s discuss why Cena needs to win.

Cena is one of the greatest to ever step in a wrestling ring. The next time he challenges for a world title, he’ll be going for title reign number 17. That would break the tie he currently has with Ric Flair for most all-time, with 16.

The biggest win of Cena’s career would make the most sense if it came at SummerSlam. SummerSlam is the sight of Cena’s worst record at a “Big Four” PPV. It would be a moment of redemption for Cena at WWE’s second-biggest show of the year.

Even if Cena doesn’t win, he needs to begin to threaten for 17 now. They can start to make a big deal out of it and establish how close he is to statistically being the greatest WWE Champion of all-time. It creates the groundwork for the next time he challenges, most likely at WrestleMania.

Plus, anytime Cena is in the title scene, ratings go up. There is no better time to see an uptick in interest than right before football season starts. The days of Monday Night Football eclipsing Raw in 2016 helped propel SmackDown at the beginning of the brand split. There’s no better way to bring renewed focus to the blue brand than by having Cena in the SummerSlam title picture.

It would also be big for champion Jinder Mahal. Mahal’s title wins over Randy Orton are nice, but it still seems forced and hasn’t truly gotten him over. Give Mahal a couple of promos with Cena and a big win at SummerSlam, clean or not, and he’ll seem real legit, real quick.

Add to this that there is no reason to rush Nakamura to a title match at SummerSlam. The only reason to have Nakamura in the match would be to have him defeat Mahal. He can handle being champion, but it’s hard to tell if he would be able to withstand a loss to a still not fully-established champion.

Tuesday is going to be a win for Cena. As big of a moment as beating Cena in front of a global audience would be for Nakamura, it would outshine the title win. Instead, give him and Cena time and let Cena get the win while putting Nakamura over. Nobody puts guys over while beating them, quite like Cena. Let him do his thing as the top guy.

Next: Could Shane McMahon wrestle at SummerSlam?

We can question why WWE wants to give us this match for free on SmackDown, as opposed to as a big time one-on-one match at SummerSlam, but when it comes, we’ll have to sit back and enjoy, as Cena officially starts his quest for 17.