Imagine a scenario where Cena’s been unable to really one-up Styles, but he wins the Royal Rumble and beats him at WrestleMania to not only settle the score, but also achieve this insane record. Is that not a bigger deal?
If you’re wondering where that would put Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt in the mix, nothing is stopping them from having a regular grudge match with no title on the line. Assuming the rumors are true about Styles facing Shane McMahon now, doesn’t heading into WrestleMania with the championship to lose it to 3x Royal Rumble winner John Cena for his 16th title reign sound like a bigger deal than fighting SmackDown’s GM in a feud that has no foundation and will be massively overlooked?
Who benefited from this?
The four main people to examine with this whole situation are Cena himself, Styles, Wyatt and Orton.
Obviously, when it comes to Cena, he has the accolade in the record books and that’s it. We’ve established that. It happened and you can’t erase it, no matter how lackluster the title reign itself was.
What AJ Styles got out of the deal was a shorter title reign which led to a runner-up placement in the Elimination Chamber and what seems to be an afterthought match against Shane McMahon on the undercard that he could very well lose.
Bray Wyatt won the championship from Cena in a multi-man match, which diminishes some of the impact in comparison to if he had defeated Cena one-on-one. Oddly enough, though, he eliminated Cena second-to-last before taking out Styles as well, so if that is the case, why couldn’t Wyatt have simply beaten Styles for the championship here? It still gives you Wyatt as the champion, it still has Styles being the last man in the chamber outside of the winner and it allows The Phenomenal One to tack two weeks more onto his title reign. Hell, why couldn’t we have skipped the middle man and had Wyatt beat Styles at the Royal Rumble, for that matter?
Cena winning the title only to drop it two weeks later does absolutely nothing to benefit Orton, particularly as Cena won their match on SmackDown this past week. Womp womp.
Did the title loss result in any good booking for WrestleMania?
The jury is still out on this, but I have to imagine we’re not going to get anything stellar over the next seven weeks.
More than likely, Cena will have his obligatory rematch against Wyatt on SmackDown and he’ll lose due to some sort of shenanigans with Orton or The Miz interfering to cost him a chance at winning his title back. Then, we’ll see some tag team matches pairing him up with Luke Harper against Orton and Wyatt or whatever before Orton fully turns on Wyatt and Cena focuses his attention entirely on The Miz.
Basically, it’s the rinse and repeat formula WWE always uses for these situations, so if that happens, it isn’t as though this hot potato title switch was influential in thinking outside the box to create some really interesting twists and turns along the Road to WrestleMania. Instead, it followed an exactly predictable layout.
If that doesn’t happen and we get something crazier like a Fatal 4-Way at WrestleMania or the title changes hands again, I’ll fully admit that I was wrong, but I don’t think I’ll have to eat my words on this one.
All in all, this whole 16th world title reign just feels like it was the equivalent of WWE being impatient and wanting to check various things off their to-do list. They didn’t want Styles as the champion for WrestleMania, they wanted Wyatt to win the belt, Orton to face him, and they figured they would just throw in Cena’s win while they were at it.
Like pretty much everything going on with this year’s WrestleMania, this screams of a misuse of assets and a generalized lack of capitalization on potential which can’t be recaptured again. Here’s hoping on April 3rd, I’m looking back and thinking it was all worth it rather than looking at a roster where a part-timer who won’t show up for another few months is the champion on Raw, a bland champion heads up the SmackDown roster in a feud against his monotonous transitional champion former protege, half the big names are gone and the rest of the roster was pushed aside in favor of them and not utilized correctly but are now supposed to be people we care about when WWE’s creative team clearly doesn’t.
Then, we can start talking about when Cena beats Ric Flair’s record and it can all start all over again.