Despite the WWE World Heavyweight Championship being defended, the vacant Intercontinental Championship finding a new holder, the first ever Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber match taking place and the Divas title on the line in a triple threat match, one of the most important matches coming up on Sunday’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view is between John Cena and Kevin Owens.
This feud effectively started with Sami Zayn’s attempt to best Cena during a US Open Challenge where he suffered an injury and come up short after a valiant effort. Zayn’s former friend and current enemy, NXT champion Kevin Owens, would eventually insert himself into the picture by calling Cena out and making a statement, leaving him flat on his back and stomping on the United States Championship.
Since then, Owens has soundly defeated Sami Zayn once again and continued to be a thorn in Cena’s side. Things will come to a head Sunday night where Owens will have to back up his actions, and it’s incredibly important that he does.
First off, let’s address the elephant in the room: neither championship is on the line in this contest. We won’t be seeing a new United States champion, nor a new NXT champion (although it would be crazy to think of Cena as the top of developmental, wouldn’t it?) The downside to this is that the match doesn’t mean anywhere near as much as if a title was up for grabs. The upside to this, though, is that there’s more playing room to book.
Obviously, if Cena’s championship was on the line and Owens wasn’t meant to be brought up to the main roster any time soon, by necessity the match would have to end with either a Cena victory or some kind of disqualification or count out loss to keep the title on him. Now, that doesn’t need to happen. Kevin Owens can simply pin Cena and nothing needs to be rearranged for the roster whatsoever.
That also means that when booking this match, WWE needs to look at the pros and the cons of each potential outcome. Anything short of a submission or a pinfall is weak when it comes to pay-per-views, so those should be ruled out entirely. Is there an upside to Cena scoring the win over Owens? At best, one can argue that it helps keep his hot streak going, but that isn’t the biggest priority in the WWE Universe. Cena is far beyond the level where wins and losses need to be carefully planned out to make sure he’s protected in the eyes of the fans. Even if Cena were to lose the championship at Elimination Chamber, he could theoretically win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship the next night on Raw and nobody would bat an eye. This is John Cena we’re talking about, not Adam Rose.
The downside to a Cena victory is that it furthers a divide between the main roster and the NXT crew. Yes, they are technically the developmental brand and not on the same level, but if Cena beats the one guy who has been running roughshod over everyone with relative ease, then what does that say about the others? Owens not being able to defeat Cena means that Finn Balor wouldn’t be able to, nor would Hideo Itami, Tyler Breeze, Baron Corbin and so forth. While it’s doubtful that anybody would believe Enzo Amore could beat Cena anyway, a victory here would give solid credence to the idea that that isn’t even possible.
On the other hand, if Owens were to defeat Cena, things get a lot more interesting. Beating a champion almost automatically puts you in line for a title shot, so Owens could very well face Cena again at Money in the Bank with the championship on the line, raising the stakes. He also has even more of a reason to boast about how great he is, because at that point, he’s proven himself to be unstoppable, taking down the face of the company in his debut match on the upper echelon stage.
Imagine the credibility that Owens then brings to the NXT Championship. No longer are his challengers facing someone who just won the title 2 months after his debut. Now, they’re fighting a monster who has done all of the horrible things like destroying his best friend and reigning supreme on top of proving that he’s at a level FAR above “developmental”. The person to beat him down the line looks considerably stronger for having pulled it off, because they beat the guy who beat John Cena.
The bottom line is that Cena can afford a loss and Owens, although established very well so far, is still in a building process. With the title not on the line, Owens is the safe win with the best consequences, while a Cena victory does nothing but harm to Owens and the NXT roster for absolutely no gain on the United States champion’s end. Unless a babyface such as Samoa Joe, Finn Balor or Sami Zayn interferes and costs the match for Owens, there’s no reason why Cena should come out on top of this match.
This is an opportunity to turn a lot of heads and convince the audience that doesn’t currently watch NXT that they are missing out and if WWE plays their cards right, they can solidify that Owens is a star to watch for the future instead of just another person like Rusev who was built up to be fed to “lol Cena wins” once more.
Who do you want to see win their match at Elimination Chamber? Should this be for the United States Championship instead of a normal singles match? Tell us your thoughts and predictions in the comments below!