I know, I know. You’re all like “Fowler, shut the hell up with your John Cena vs. The Undertaker obsession. You suck! And you smell like poo!”
True, I haven’t exactly been coy about wanting to see Cena face Undertaker in the Deadman’s (advertised as such) last match in WWE. In fact, the only person I’m sure wants to see this match happen more than me is…well, John Cena.
Last year, Cena vs. Undertaker was one of the rumored WrestleMania bouts but the the decision was made to put Taker against Roman Reigns and Cena was left in the lurch. He wasn’t too publicly vocal about it though he did bring it up, during a promo against The Miz (where in insisted he didn’t have the pull everyone thinks he has), who’d, at that point, become his WrestleMania opponent. He basically said something like “If I really had the type of power you think I have, I’d be facing Undertaker instead of you.”
Fast-forward a year and Cena vs. Taker is, or was, heavily rumored again. Yes, even after Untertaker seemingly “retired” following his loss to Roman. I won’t get into the argument for a one more, one FINAL, Undertaker match as I’ve written about it quite a bit previously. I’m for it. I want it. It makes sense. No, I don’t care that Taker’s way past his prime. Or that Cena is too.
Plus, Roman only beat Taker in his macabre Wild West gear. Undertaker still has that dark druid attire, the hooded black robe, that he wore at RAW 25. To truly retire Taker, you must beat him in all of his forms.
Obviously though, Cena vs. Taker could only happen this year if Taker was ready to work. Again, I don’t even expect the match these two might have will be good. I just want closure. After Cena got pinned and eliminated on Sunday, by Braun Strowman inside the Elimination Chamber, he was despondent. It happens every so often, after Big Match John beefs it on the big stage. He reflects and steps away for a bit. This time though it happened just a few weeks out from ‘Mania. This was the perfect time for either Cena to challenge Undertaker, call the Deadman out from ethereal oblivion, or for Taker to show up on his own and actually challenge Cena.
But on Monday’s RAW, Cena said the match wouldn’t happen. That it was “impossible.” The encounter he so desperately wanted was, once again, cancelled. Now he’s off to SmackDown to try and sort through his emotions and, hopefully, squeeze himself in the ‘Mania mix. We’ll know more after tonight’s TV, but the rumors have already begun that, at Fastlane, Cena will challenge Shinsuke Nakamura – with the winner going on to face AJ Styles at ‘Mania 34. Basically, Nakamura will put the main event title shot he won at the Royal Rumble on the line.
Do I think Cena will actually beat Shinsuke or wind up somehow facing Styles, either on his own or as part of a Triple Threat match? No. I think they’re making us sweat. The worst decision they could book here would be to throw Cena into the ‘Mania match hardcore fans want to see the most. The smarklash would be unbearable.
Here’s the deal with RAW and SmackDown these days. I think there’s an awareness that most fans know, way ahead of time, what the ‘Mania card is going to look like so, right now, Vince and the rest are playing with our anticipation a bit. Asuka was rumored to challenge Charlotte (the entire reason the “both brands” stipulation was added to her Rumble win) but she’s still in this feud with Nia and Alexa. Asuka hasn’t officially challenged anyone though. Some think there’s no way for her to do so now, but all she has to do is tell Alexa “I already beat you.” Which she did. On RAW in a non-title match. Why would we want to see them fight again? There’s a strong possibility we’re being toyed with here.
Basically, I’m not believing anything is official until it’s made official. Everyone’s taking around things. “Asuka, it looks like/seems like you’ll be facing Alexa.” English may not be Asuka’s strong suit right now, but she can surely challenge someone directly. And who doesn’t love to point at the damn sign?
Anyhow, in keeping with this theme, Undertaker could still face Cena. All this means is that the announcement will come a few weeks from now. Like the Asuka/Charlotte match. After Cena loses to Nakamura at Fastlane, he’ll be lost. He’ll think he’s going to be left off the ‘Mania card (LOL, by the way). Then…GONG!
I’m phantom booking here pretty hard. I know. I get that I could be very easily up my own behind. Basically, breaking it down a bit more, the way Cena mentioned a match with Undertaker felt off. Not only did he flat-out bring it up, but he made it seem like it was going to happen, making the whole crowd cheer for quite a while. He got everyone pumped. Then he crushed everyone’s happiness…just to make the point that, yes…it sucks to feel sad? Now we felt sad too and…that’s what he wanted?
Why announce something everyone wants to see (well, mostly), get us all psyched, and then squash it? That’s a heel tactic. Or, I should say this: That’s a heel tactic that backfires on the heel. “You want to see me vs. [Super Over Babyface]? I bet you’d love that! Well…he’s not here tonight! [Evil Laugh].” You know what happens after that though? [Super Over Babyface] IS there. And the bad guy plops in his pants.
That’s what Cena’s speech felt like. It may have also been a thing where he threw the match out there as a hypothetical just to see how everyone would react. Basically, I’m going to stubbornly stick to my stubborn sticks until the dust settles and the WrestleMania 34 card is in its pristine and final form.
Because – let’s be honest here – we’re all still waiting for this WrestleMania’s big moment. The big match. AJ vs. Shinsuke is pretty good. Rousey wrestling will be fun but…Kurt Angle as her partner? If that’s the way they go then that’s kind of a humdrum offering. Not that this mixed-tag match should go longer than 10 minutes (please don’t let it go longer than 10 minutes), but Rousey isn’t enough to make this Mania pop.
Neither does Roman vs. Brock, though now there are whispers about Braun’s WrestleMania match booking being held back because he’s the back up/Plan B for the Universal Championship match in case A: something happens to Roman because of the steroid accusations, or B: something happens to Brock because Brock acts the way Brock usually does when he’s on his way out of WWE. Like an aloof turd person.
Cena vs. Undertaker, billed as Undertaker’s official retirement match, will give ‘Mania the extra juice it needs. Granted, it still might not be enough, but it’s big for us to know, win or lose, that Taker is leaving for real.
This could all just be me smelling a work where there’s no work, because pro-wrestling makes us all paranoid, but I do think that WWE’s actively working to make the WrestleMania card feel way more “up in the air” than usual – even though it will probably all land the way we think it will.