Bleacher Report stole some of my thunder, but I can still spin a yarn or two. The recent talk about WWE bring John Cena back on July 4th to call out Jinder Mahal and have him challenge the current WWE World Champion for the title is something we have all seen before. Yes, it has the makings of Hulk Hogan versus The Iron Sheik. But the idea of having Cena defend the red, white and blue has more meaning than just the return of everyone’s wrestling enigma.
In a perfect wrestling world, WWE would follow a different path. The company wouldn’t try to recreate history. Mahal, the hand-picked champion by WWE to become the new villain of Tuesday nights. And in the process, Cena would do something I never want to see – overtake John Cena for the most world title wins in wrestling history.
That record is sacred. Ric Flair will always be considered the greatest of all time. Cena, who is a solid wrestler and possibly the most icon performer of this generation, shouldn’t be placed on the same pedestal.
That’s a WWE conversation for another time and place.
The thought behind Cena taking on Mahal is fans won’t mind that he beats Flair’s record because he is fighting for Old Glory and taking down the enemy. When Cena won WWE’s United States Title, it meant something, It was the hottest belt in the company at the time. He worked to make it recognizable. He took on all challengers and had the best run of any US Champion. Now, after tying Flair at the Royal Rumble, there isn’t much left for Cena to do. And yes, proposing to Nikki Bella at WrestleMania 33 was probably the moment we all will remember about him this year.
Now Cena has other options. He can pick and choose who he faces. He can be somewhat cautious. He has too many outside interests to compete on a full-time basis. So him beating Mahal is more of a transitional step. This is Bray Wyatt winning all over again at Elimination Chamber.
Per Alfred Konuwa of Bleacher Report, the idea to put the belt on Cena has nothing to do with WWE and dissatisfaction of Mahal and the work he is doing in and out of the ring.
“Mahal is doing everything right—from getting in the best shape of his career to returning with a positive, motivated attitude and being in the right place at the right time. It’s easy to search for every possible excuse as to why a man who was recently involved in a lighthearted feud with Rob Gronkowski is now the most important person on SmackDown Live, but at the end of the day, he worked hard and WWE is building around him as a result.”
There will be other title runs for Mahal. WWE would not have invested this much energy into making him a main event star to let him fall off the map and back into the mid card quicksand. Despite the notion there are others on WWE’s roster who could carry the torch for the USA, Cena gets the nod for obvious reasons.
“The clash of Cena’s patriotic pride and Mahal’s pre-emptive protests against American xenophobia give way to the perfect storm for Cena’s return feud,” Konuwa explains. “Mahal can easily become the Iron Sheik to Cena’s Hulk Hogan, but for entirely different reasons than America versus the enemy. This feud could be much more nuanced than ‘us vs. them,” making it much more digestible for the overly opinionated millennial generation.”
WWE has brought back the foreign heel in a big way. Hogan benefitted greatly from the push to defeat The Iron Sheik. Cena won’t have that kind of backing because of his storied career. But in the end, WWE has no other choice bit to go to their fearless leader to defend the blue brand, America and preserve the notion that villains only have so long a shelf life before they fall off the top of the wrestling mountain.