John Cena makes his return to the WWE on tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live. Now that Cena has returned, what’s the plan for him going forward?
Based on some recent rumors, it seems that there are some immediate plans for Cena and some more long-term plans as well. In terms of what’s next for him over the course of the next few months, Sportskeeda recently reported that Cena is set to face the WWE champion, Jinder Mahal, at SummerSlam in August.
At the time, Sportskeeda reported that the WWE had not yet decided whether to extend the Randy Orton feud for a bit longer or have Jinder Mahal engage in a quick mini-feud with AJ Styles before moving on to John Cena. It seems that the company has settled on the former, as they recently booked a match between Randy Orton and Jinder Mahal for Battleground on July 23rd. Mahal will presumably will that match and go on to face Cena at SummerSlam.
It makes sense for Cena to go after the title not long after returning to SmackDown Live. After all, the next time he wins the WWE Championship, it’s going to be a big deal. He has currently had 16 reigns as a world champion, meaning he is tied with Ric Flair and is ready to overtake him the next time he scores a belt.
But what’s the long-term plan for John Cena? Well, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer recently speculated that the company is planning for John Cena to take on Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 34.
This would make sense, as according to the Wrestling Observer, the WWE recently scrapped its plans to have Reigns face Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. They instead plan to have this match at SummerSlam; this means Reigns needs an opponent for WrestleMania.
In addition, the WWE has made a point of saving that Cena is returning on July 4th as a “free agent,” meaning he can appear on both Raw and SmackDown Live. It would not make sense to take this step, only for Cena to continue to feud exclusively with SmackDown Live superstars. This points to the WWE planning on Cena feuding with someone from Raw, and Roman Reigns seems like the perfect candidate.
The Wrestling Observer had also previously reported that WrestleMania 34 will end with the coronation of Roman Reigns.
“The plan is to once again build for a year and have the big coronation at WrestleMania,” the Wrestling Observer reported back in March. “The idea between now and then is for Reigns to be the face, not just when he wins the title, but to fully replace John Cena as the lead babyface of the company.”
That was originally going to happen with Roman Reigns defeating Brock Lesnar, but now it sounds like Reigns will replace John Cena by actually defeating Cena in a match at the big event in April 2018.