John Cena made history last Sunday by virtue of his victory over AJ Styles for the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble. In doing so, of course, he tied Ric Flair for the most world title reigns of all time with 16. Outside of the WWE website, there’s been minimal fanfare over Cena’s historic achievement, thanks in large part to the plans to end his reign after two short weeks.
WWE officials felt that it wasn’t worth celebrating John Cena’s accomplishments because he’d be dropping his newly-won championship at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view on February 12. The new plan that has been in place for a couple weeks will play out in the form of Bray Wyatt winning the title at the SmackDown-exclusive show next Sunday and defend it against Randy Orton at WrestleMania in April.
Interestingly enough, that will mean that neither competitor in the classic WWE Championship match (John Cena, AJ Styles) at the Royal Rumble will be in the title picture come April 2 at WrestleMania. Instead, the plans for Cena’s WrestleMania match have raised some eyebrows over the last few days, as it appears he’s in line to team up with real-life girlfriend Nikki Bella in a mixed tag team match with The Miz and Maryse.
In regards to Styles, he has been rumored to face Shane McMahon for some time, although that has yet to be confirmed. When initial drafts of the WrestleMania card were leaked, there had yet to be definitive plans laid out for either Cena or Styles, which is somewhat hard to understand considering John’s star-power and the year AJ had. But Vince McMahon and company had to do some reshuffling, at least as far as Cena was concerned.
A new report indicates that John Cena was originally penciled in to face the Undertaker at WrestleMania with the strong possibility that the WWE Championship would also have been on the line. The options the creative team were considering included Cena beating Styles for the title and the Undertaker winning the Royal Rumble match, the Undertaker beating Styles at the Royal Rumble and then Cena earning the number one contender spot at the Elimination Chamber or Cena winning the Rumble after losing to Styles and the Undertaker winning the title at the Chamber.
Of those, it soon became clear that the only realistic option was John Cena winning the title last Sunday and the Undertaker winning the Royal Rumble because the Deadman’s physical well-being had been called into question and he wasn’t yet able to wrestle a full singles match. He wasn’t in the best shape in San Antonio, coming off recent hip surgery. The Undertaker is now looking at a match with Roman Reigns at WrestleMania, though his health is being closely monitored. A Reigns-Undertaker match is one that Vince has been pushing for a long time.
And as it turns out, John Cena’s mixed tag match might also now be in jeopardy. The big news of the week came late Monday night when it was revealed that Seth Rollins suffered a legitimate knee injury during Samoa Joe’s attack during the final segment of RAW. WWE officials called an emergency creative meeting on Wednesday to discuss alternatives in case Rollins was unable to compete at WrestleMania.
Several options were discussed, including Triple H facing Joe if they’re able to come up with a logical storyline that made it fit. Hunter, of course, had been scheduled to face Rollins in a match that had been locked in for months. The Game is adamant about wrestling on the card, primarily because of NXT’s connections to Orlando and the proximity to the Performance Center.
Another option that was pitched included Joe being moved to SmackDown in light of the vicious attack and getting inserted into a program with John Cena. No word on what that might mean for Triple H (if Rollins is unavailable), but it certainly puts Joe into the spotlight.
There are two big reasons for Cena teaming up with Nikki to face The Miz and Maryse. For one, this appears to be Nikki’s final match in WWE as it looks like she is being forced to retire due to her neck injury. And there has been speculation around the idea that John would propose to Nikki after the match is over. While the idea of the match itself has received a puzzling reaction, the mainstream publicity a marriage proposal would get would be much bigger than a simple singles match between John Cena and Samoa Joe.
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