Roman Reigns vs John Cena: Who will leave No Mercy victorious?
The two most polarizing men in wrestling battle to determine whether or not Roman Reigns is doing his job.
Since their contract signing on the August 28th edition of Raw, Roman Reigns and John Cena have taken some heated verbal shots at each other. From Roman alluding to Cena burying the likes of Alex Riley to Cena referencing Reign’s failed drug test as a metaphor to Sunday’s result, these worked shoot promos have proven why the upcoming battle between the two polarising wrestlers has captured the interest of even the most anti-establishment wrestling fan.
Whilst some fans are puzzled that this match is being positioned as a semi-main event of a B-level Network special as opposed to a main event spot at WrestleMania, that has done little to wain anticipation for the upcoming bout. In fact, some may argue that it has done more to raise intrigue for this bout. With the tension racing towards the precipice that is No Mercy, we take a look at both men’s recent form and look at why they may or may not need to pick up a win in what is a true ‘dream’ match.
Since coming back from his post-Mania break, Cena has failed to have any major programs to sink his teeth into. His feud with Rusev over nationalistic pride was a tired feud that culminating in a terribly uninspired flag match at Battleground. Whilst a feud with Jinder Mahal was briefly teased, Cena ultimately lost a number one contender match to Shinsuke Nakamura and participated in a stop-gap feud with Baron Corbin which turned out to be more of a punishment to Corbin than anything meaningful.
Since his move to Raw, Cena has stepped up his game, cutting promos of Reigns that Cena usually reserves for his top-level rivals (Randy Orton/CM Punk/AJ Styles). Cena has blamed Reigns for not properly doing his job and for being the corporate rinse and repeat. This version of Cena, the man challenging the younger upstart, is arguably the best Cena as he prides himself in challenging both himself and his opponent. This aspect of Cena is what leads to this classic matches, this is what the fans like to see out of Cena. This version of John Cena is the version that draws the most money.
Whilst Cena has less to lose from eating a pinfall from Roman Reigns, WWE may want to shock the fans by having Cena pick up a shock win over Roman here. With most of Cena’s recent feuds, he has generally been the one to take the first loss (See Rusev, Kevin Owens, and AJ Styles) WWE may want to change the formula to that by having Cena pick up a surprise win. It easily lends itself to a rematch down the line; it’s unpredictable and it gives Cena some extra momentum after two bland feuds recently.
Another factor that could help Cena pick up a win is in the way WWE has booked it. It seems that WWE has attempted to emulate the Rock/Cena rivalry, with Cena playing the role of The Rock and Reigns taking a Cena-Esque Role. Seeing that it was a high-drawing angle that used real-life tensions and grievances, they may think that having Cena win may humble Roman. As WWE seem to be humbling Roman similar to the way they humbled Cena.
A big reason WWE will probably look to have Cena do the job is Cena’s movie commitments. With upcoming roles in the likes of Shazam, Daddy’s Home 2, The Pact, etc. Cena is not going to be omnipresent of WWE television going forward.
WWE may see more value in having Cena lose to Reigns on the way out in order to put Reigns over as ‘the guy’ since tradition, stemming back to the territory days, indicates that Cena should job of the way out. Whilst he is coming back, having Cena job could open up the door for a future program if they ever wanted to give a heelish spin to Cena’s character. A bitter veteran trying to hold the upshot down could make for compelling television.
Furthermore, if we examine the crux of what Cena has been telling Reigns, he has been criticising Reigns for ‘not doing his job,’ referencing his inability to properly get over, his failed drug test and the fact that they still need John Cena, it would look bad for Roman if Cena is proven right.
If Reigns loses, it proves to the fans that he can’t do his job and that he is the corporate knockoff. Cena eating a loss is better for the long-term future of Reigns as WWE will not want the fans being justified in their hatred of Reigns, and to keep him over to the degree that he is.
Even the most ardent Roman Reigns detractors will find it hard to say that he has not been a compelling persona. Shifting into an arrogant, couldn’t care less tweener role, somewhat similar to a Tetsuya Naito in some respects, Roman has been one of WWE’s standout performers for this year.
His matches with Braun would have been the best trilogy of the past decade if Okada/Omega and Naito/Tanahashi didn’t exist. He has eaten pinfalls to the likes of Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe, Braun Strowman and most recently Brock Lesnar, whilst also being willing to work with younger talent such as Jinder Mahal and Jason Jordan in order to help their progression. Roman Reigns has made it increasingly more difficult for the hardcore fanbase to rationally criticise him.
With this in mind, his recent booking, coupled with mixed reports over his direction, sets up intrigue over what WWE may do at No Mercy. WWE has tried to humanize Roman by having him be put into more vulnerable positions. From being annihilated by Braun on a near weekly basis, to being seen as being ‘cut down to size’ by John Cena, Roman has been positioned as being more sympathetic as an underdog.
This has been balanced out by the cockier, badass attitude that made people identify with him from his Shield days. If the rumours are true and the WWE are planning a third WrestleMania ‘coronation’ then the WWE may want to continue this by having him take a loss to Cena. WWE has been quite clever in catering to what the hardcore fanbase want in Roman by portraying Roman with the heavy criticism he’s received in mind. By having him do the job to Cena, the critics would further get their wish of Roman being humbled.
With a bevy of rumours circulating about Romans plans, a loss here may lead to something that furthers Reign’s character. The possibility of an angered Reigns taking out his frustrations of Samoa Joe and Bray Wyatt, as feuds with those two were rumoured earlier in the year by Cageside Seats. A loss to Cena here could lead to a character shift with Roman, giving him an edge that helps him in future programs.
However, the most logical step would be for Roman to win this contest. His string of losses this year needs to be countered quickly, and what better way to add a crux to the storyline than to say that both men beat Undertaker and Cena in the same year.
Roman needs to maintain his value to the company because if he keeps picking up losses, then it will not mean as much in the future if someone like an Adam Cole or an Andrade Cien Almas challenges him. A win for Roman here needs to be used to drive his character forward towards his eventual showdown with Brock Lesnar.
As Brock Lesnar’s matches tend to be short, expect this match to be given a healthy amount of time. After the typical finisher spam-fest, Roman will hit a second or third spear on Cena and pick up the win after about 25-30 minutes. Cena will raise his hand before going away for a month or two, whilst Reigns moves into a feud with a top level heel in the fall, presumably someone like Samoa Joe or The Miz.
Who do you think will walk out of No Mercy as the winner? Let us know in the comments below!