Since returning to WWE last month, John Cena has kept himself busy with an array of duties; he has hosted a pay-per-view, served as a special referee, interviewed wrestlers backstage, appeared on “talk shows”, and even wrestled in India for the first time in his Hall of Fame career.
The one thing Cena has yet to do since coming back is work a match on U.S. soil, and the 16-time world champion took steps to change that on the Sept. 23 episode of SmackDown.
Cena opened the broadcast by declaring to the Glendale, Ariz. crowd that he wanted a match. Specifically, he wanted one against Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa, and he had a great tag partner in mind: longtime rival AJ Styles.
Even though Sikoa and Uso turned town the match for SmackDown, it seemed like a lock for the upcoming Fastlane PPV. However, The Bloodline altered those plans, too.
Why does John Cena need to find a new partner for Fastlane?
Toward the end of the show, Cena signed a contract to battle Sikoa and Uso in Indianapolis, but before Styles did the same, the brothers attacked him backstage, with Sikoa punctuating the deed with a big splash off of some production equipment (the dive occurred off-screen to hide that Sikoa actually landed on a crash pad instead of Styles).
Styles left the Desert Diamond Arena on a stretcher to sell the beatdown. Minutes later, Sikoa and Uso gloated about their assault on the former WWE Champion before Cena charged to the ring to enact revenge.
Unfortunately for Cena, this was not 2009, so he couldn’t “overcome the odds”. Instead, Sikoa and Uso put the boots to him, hit their respective finishing moves, and signed the contract for Fastlane.
In most cases, this angle would leave fans to wonder who will team with Cena at Fastlane now that Styles is out of the picture (presumably until Roman Reigns returns to television), but they may get their answer shortly.
See, WWE originally booked these segments to set up LA Knight joining forces with Cena, but Knight’s positive COVID-19 test forced the company to amend its plans (wishing Knight a speedy recovery). Assuming Knight recovers in time for the PPV, there’s no reason why WWE couldn’t keep those plans in place.
Before his COVID diagnosis, Knight had become one of WWE’s hottest babyfaces, so importing him into the promotion’s most prominent storyline seemed like the next logical step. Plus, putting him on the same side as Cena, who has already shared a few tense moments with Knight, allows WWE to gauge fan interest in a potential Knight vs. Cena match while cementing the former as a babyface.
Yes, it would be another example of WWE relying on the “Can they co-exist?” trope to hype up a match, but most fans will tolerate that in exchange for seeing Knight team with one of WWE’s all-time greatest stars in a main event storyline. Besides, WWE could simply script the babyfaces to not bicker, though that’s about as likely as seeing a Martin Scorsese movie without Robert DeNiro in it.
As always, we’ll have to wait to see what WWE ultimately does, but the skeleton of a fun story is there. All that’s left to do is put the rest of the parts in their proper place.