With the tease from John Cena on Monday Night Raw of not only a trip to SmackDown, but a dance with The Undertaker, WrestleMania is heating up.
As we are around 40 or so days from WrestleMania, the card has yet to truly take shape. That was, until Monday night. On RAW last night John Cena not only made his first non-cryptic mention of The Undertaker but also a challenge for Mania. With the Deadman supposedly retiring after WrestleMania 33, it’ll take some creative storytelling to explain a return.
Enter in, SmackDown Live. The show has been struggling for months. Unable to struggle together interesting episodes let alone stories that people care about, this revelation from Cena could be the spark. Both Cena and Undertaker were key members of SmackDown during the early brand split and are synonymous with the blue brand.
Foundations of SmackDown return to raise the roof
The rumors of a long-awaited Undertaker/Cena match at Mania seem all but confirmed. Sadly it’s years after it should’ve taken place. Now we’ve got two sides to that argument though. If Cena beat Taker at, say, Mania 27, he’d be in the same slot as Roman Reigns. It’s a tricky equation to solve.
By that time Cena had been every kind of champion under the sun (except IC), and was clearly the face of the company. But the Undertaker is the conscience of the WWE, the constant protector, and watcher of all that happens. So when we look at it, really anyone that defeats Taker, especially at Mania, will be hated.
In 2003 Cena and Taker had a feud solely based on respect. If it had been set up earlier or even later to where it could’ve had a payoff at WrestleMania 20, I feel Cena wouldn’t have been hated. At that time “The Streak” was a thing but not as elevated as it would become. Cena was also a major fan favorite on the SmackDown roster and often got the support of the people. This would’ve been the perfect time to pull the trigger on this match.
Cena comes face to face with The Reaper
WrestleMania 34 is fast approaching and in the same building, Taker lost the streak. At this point in time, it doesn’t quite make sense for either to lose, which is odd. Cena doesn’t need the rub of beating Taker as he’s already a made man. So the 16-time World Champion is looking down the barrel of the last gunslinger.
In that same argument though, the streak is long gone and a Taker win isn’t necessary. So now we have two guys that don’t necessarily need victories and can take losses, facing one another. Tonight’s SmackDown will add to the possibility of this match and the long-term implications. With six weeks until WrestleMania, the dance card will fill up quickly. Having this match represent SmackDown Live is a major boost to their profile at Mania.
With what will most likely be AJ Styles v. Shinsuke Nakamura as it’s top match, SmackDown is hurting for other matches for fans to care about. A Taker-Cena battle could easily boost the blue show above it’s older brother as far as excitement is concerned. Having two major matches on the biggest show of the year could do wonders for the fledgling Tuesday night program. This could be a major start to a fantastic 2018-19 campaign for SmackDown Live.