But if we were to hypothesize that the Ryback project is done for the moment, who would you put with John Cena for the next program? The person chosen probably works the next two PPV shows against him in some form, unless it’s a one-off situation, which it very well could be. Remember when Cena faced Bobby Lashley for just one PPV?
So, who should be John Cena’s next opponent? I look at who I consider to be the top contenders and give the pros and cons for each guy.
Pros: It’s a fresh matchup and Daniel Bryan is extremely over with the fans. He’d also give Cena his best match since the CM Punk feud. There’s also an interesting dynamic of the next PPV (Money In The Bank) being in Philadelphia where Bryan would be more over than in most other cities.
Cons: Since he loses so much on TV, I don’t know whether the PPV buying audience would buy Bryan as a legitimate contender. You also have the unique face vs. face dynamic.
Pros: Mark Henry understands his character extremely well and was amidst one of his best runs of his career before being hurt and missing time after WrestleMania. Cena could work his big strength feats with Henry, which are always impressive.
Cons: The matches between the two would most likely be bad. Also, Henry historically has been yo-yo’d so often that I don’t think fans buy him as a legit badass contender, even though he should be. Henry is teasing retirement as well.
Pros: The Shield is the hottest act in WWE. If you could get creative with the booking and give Cena a reason to want to face Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins for the tag straps (maybe with Bryan), you could have one of the best tag team main events in a long time. This could also set the first foot prints of a Dean Ambrose vs. Cena feud for down the line.
Cons: The Shield would need to go over and that’s rarely a given when it comes to John Cena angles. It’s also probably a little early to put them in a main event drawing spot considering the tag straps have been devalued. Let’s look at this option again in January.
Pros: He is Cena’s best opponent; pretty much his new Edge. They have great chemistry together and Punk’s mic work would get people interested again immediately.
Cons: Punk looks to be turning babyface and moving onto Brock Lesnar so it’s probably bad timing. It would also be better holding this one off for some time since they’ve wrestled so often in the last two years.
Pros: He and Cena had a brutally great match in 2012 and they’ve been kept apart since. Lesnar would also be the best drawing opponent for Cena.
Cons: Lesnar’s contract is such that he has a set amount of dates that he can work and Money In The Bank, where the inherent draw is the multi-man ladder matches makes it unnecessary to waste one of his dates. Also, Cena/Lesnar has a WrestleMania feel to it.
Pros: If you’re not watching, you’re missing some of Orton’s best work of his career. Even in the role of an uncomfortable babyface, Orton’s ring work and psychology have been top notch.
Cons: They overdid this feud so much in the past, I’m not sure we’re ready to see it again.
Pros: Jericho is in the rare spot of being over like crazy, but not in a main event program because his current role is to put guys over or get guys ready for bigger and better things. I wish they’d give him a title run in his current babyface role because I think the fans would respond and he’d be able to be a decent draw.
Cons: He’s a babyface currently and turning heel against Cena would be old news. They’d have good matches, but it’d feel retro.
Rob Van Dam
Pros: The next show is in Philadelphia and RVD is over in Philly like CM Punk is in Chicago. He’s a fresh character and it would be quite the surprise.
Cons: RVD would have to win the title and I’m not sure you want RVD as your champ in 2013.
Who do you think should be Cena’s next opponent?