Despite the fact he wrestles less than ten televised matches per year, John Cena is still considered the face of World Wrestling Entertainment, and without a doubt the company’s most visible active superstar. Love him or hate him, there’s not a sports entertainment fan alive who doesn’t know Cena’s name, waiting in desperate anticipation each and every time he steps inside the squared circle. Cena’s profile is never higher than during WrestleMania season, when all eyes are on WWE for the biggest show of the year.
Granted, Cena won’t necessarily appear in the main event on the Grandest Stage of Them All. He is pretty much guaranteed to make an appearance, though, usually in one of the highest profile matches of the night. Cena’s still a very strong performer inside the ring, so the attention can be entirely deserved if he has the right opponent. Unfortunately, WWE has been making horrible decisions in this regard lately, and on a very mainstream level, putting Cena in the ring against the worst names possible.
Obviously, this is a mistake Vince McMahon wants to avoid on the Showcase of Immortals, when Cena wrestling in a good match could make or break the program to many viewers. Because April 8th isn’t that far away, and fans are already getting prepared for that night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, keep reading to learn about 8 wrestlers John Cena could face at WrestleMania 34 and 7 wrestlers he definitely should not.
15 SHOULD WRESTLE: The Rock
Once got WWE their biggest audience in modern history and it’s not like people stopped talking after round two, so why not return to the well and go for Thrice in a Lifetime? The only reason fans were vehemently against the idea of John Cena and The Rock main eventing WrestleMania twice in a row is that the two matches happened so close to one another. Five years removed from that twofer, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for WWE to consider running their highest profile match one more time. Cena and Rocky always brought the best out of one another in the ring, and if the company is going to use Cena’s match on nostalgia, this would probably be the best way to make fans happy the whole fight through. Of course, there’s always the question of whether or not Rock would want to do it, making this a rather unlikely pipe dream compared to some other suggestions on the list.
14 SHOULDN’T WRESTLE: Batista
One of the most respected publications in sports entertainment journalism, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, recently reported that John Cena’s opponent at WrestleMania could be a pretty major name. Amongst the top superstar suggestions they offered was Dave Batista, which does indeed fit the idea of a huge marquee match, but should also be avoided at all costs. While Batista might be a star in Hollywood who once dominated the WWE box office, his last run in the company was completely disastrous, and there’s no reason to think fans will forget about that and focus on his distant past instead. Batista’s name is pretty much a lost cause in the modern wrestling world, and a handful of popular movies has yet to undo the damage caused in 2014. Luckily, there’s little chance Batista would be interested in the first place, making this one a very unlikely prediction.
13 SHOULD WRESTLE: Goldberg
Timing is just about everything in pro wrestling, and if there was ever a time for John Cena to wrestle Goldberg, it would have to be at WrestleMania 34. The sudden comeback and WWE Universal Championship reign Goldberg experienced in 2016 took absolutely everyone by surprise, bringing millions of lapsed fans to their feet for the first time in years. There was far more potential to Goldberg’s return than simply a few matches against Brock Lesnar and one false start with Kevin Owens, with a huge marquee challenge against John Cena high on the list of unique opportunities that were suddenly on the table. Goldberg hasn’t made an appearance in WWE since the last WrestleMania, and he may feel the wrestling chapter in his life is finally over, but on the other hand, he could make a bunch of money by coming back for one more match against another unstoppable monster who never gives up.
12 SHOULDN’T WRESTLE: Triple H
Thanks to the man’s monstrous ego and eternal status as the highest profile wrestler/executive in WWE, whenever the idea of a truly marquee match gets floated, Triple H is bound to throw his name into the running. It’s not like John Cena and Triple H couldn’t be a viable main event based on their names alone, but all the reasons that make HHH a potential contender also cause the fans to hate and resent him no matter what he does. There’s also not much hope the two could put on a solid match together, as HHH has been increasingly lazy and forgettable during his rare matches of late. WWE would need to make the match no DQ, or Hell in a Cell, or some other form of stipulation for HHH to put together an entire match, which may be too much violence for Cena’s cookie cutter image at this point. Neither man has anything to gain from the match either, making it a pretty pointless affair no matter how bloody it would be.
11 SHOULD WRESTLE: Samoa Joe
Believe it or not, John Cena and Samoa Joe actually have more history together than almost any two performers in WWE today. The men trained together almost two full decades ago down in UPW, having gone their separate ways for most of their mainstream careers. While Cena rapidly climbed to the top of the WWE Universe, Joe gradually built a reputation as a monster on the independent scene, only recently bringing that destructiveness to Cena’s stomping ground. Joe’s career is still new enough that he hasn’t stood against Cena on a major stage, and their long history as polar opposite former friends who never fought could be the perfect backdrop for a WrestleMania affair. It’s also worth noting that Cena and Joe could probably piece together a pretty great power match, winning over even the fans who boo and resent the Face of WWE no matter what he does.
10 SHOULDN’T WRESTLE: The Miz
Cena and The Rock might have been a match made in heaven that worked more than once and could work again, but the Face of WWE’s battles against the self-obsessed Miz are pretty much the exact opposite of that. Neither Cena’s solo match against The Miz for the WWE Championship almost a full decade ago nor the mixed tag rematch of sorts involving both men’s significant others provided anything to write home about in the ring. If anything, all these matches did was fail to deliver in front of massive crowds, leaving millions of fans disappointed in Cena for his inability to have an interesting match when all cards were on the table. As for The Miz’s contributions to the match, for all his improvements as a performer, the Awesome One always seems to become irrelevant in his matches against Cena, just another body for the biggest name in the company to smash into goo. It would be boring and pointless for fans to watch that happen again, so hopefully WWE won’t force them to.
9 SHOULD WRESTLE: Braun Strowman
Once upon a time, WrestleMania was the point in the year when WWE solidified their new rising stars as bona fide main event legends. Names like The Ultimate Warrior, Yokozuna, Shawn Michaels, and Steve Austin all won their first WWE Championships at the Grandest Stage of Them All, and future talents like Batista, John Cena, and Seth Rollins experienced similar victories. If the company still made moves like this, Braun Strowman should definitely be either challenging for the Universal Championship or at least wrestling John Cena to make it clear who the new top dog in WWE today truly is. Whether the company recognizes it or not, Strowman gets louder cheers for his destructive antics than anyone else in the company, and a decisive victory over Cena on the biggest show of the year would cement his status as the most popular wrestler in the world. Unfortunately, it isn’t very likely, as Cena is probably going to win his match against a readymade star, but the throwback thought might serve WWE better in the long run.
8 SHOULDN’T WRESTLE: Randy Orton
In the eyes of Vince McMahon, there’s no bigger match in wrestling history than John Cena versus Randy Orton, and that’s regardless of how many hundreds of times the company has already held this contest. Vince proved this when he unified the World and WWE Championships just a few years back, having his two oldest stars keep fighting over the belt rather than celebrate anyone new and exciting. It wouldn’t be surprising at all to learn Vince feels the exact same way four years later, with Dave Meltzer’s talk about a truly marquee match simply being code that WWE is going back to this well yet again. In fairness, it’s actually never happened one on one at WrestleMania before, but Cena and Orton have wrestled so many times on so many other shows it would just bore the hell out of fans if repeated yet again.
7 SHOULD WRESTLE: Kevin Owens
In all honesty, there’s little reason for Kevin Owens and John Cena to face one another at this upcoming WrestleMania. Owens is firmly entrenched in an angle with Sami Zayn and Shane McMahon, and short of Cena coming as the face of WWE to save the day in that feud, it’s unlikely they’ll cross paths before the Showcase of Immortals. Of course, technicalities like the fact it wouldn’t make sense haven’t slowed WWE down in the past, and if they could use their trademark illogical booking to actually create a good match, more power to them. Prior to AJ Styles, who may be busy defending the WWE Championship, Owens was arguably the last wrestler to get a series of great matches out of Cena, the one downside being that Cena’s dominant victory in the last of them didn’t sit well with some fans. That alone is a readymade reason Owens could get mad and want another rematch, and if he gets the win this time, WWE will be reaffirming his status as a top star for years to come.
6 SHOULDN’T WRESTLE: Rusev
In fairness to WWE, it doesn’t look like they’re going to try and rehash the Rusev versus John Cena battle for country supremacy yet again at WrestleMania 34. However, knowing how many times Vince McMahon has gone to the America fighting a random foreigner well in the past, there’s no real reason to think it wouldn’t at least cross his mind for another high profile encounter. Rusev is more popular than he has ever been in WWE today, and it might even make sense for them to try and capitalize on his fame with a match against the face of the company. Unfortunately, that match has happened so many times in the past and always with the same result, so it would just blow up in their faces when Cena overcame the odds and made Rusev look like a chump one more time. WWE would also ignore everything making Rusev popular and turn it into the usual xenophobic faire, leaving little chance anyone will appreciate the outcome.
5 SHOULD WRESTLE: The Undertaker
Truth be told, the idea of a John Cena-Undertaker match at WrestleMania is nowhere near as promising as it was just a few years ago. It’s not even the fact Brock Lesnar defeated the Dead Man and ended the Streak, although that did a lot of damage the company still doesn’t know how to undo. Worse than that, though, is the fact Undertaker’s return match against Bray Wyatt was a huge bomb, and his apparent “retirement” against Roman Reigns the next year just kept the disappointments coming. As that sentence should imply, there’s also the issue that Undertaker seemingly retired, so him coming back wouldn’t necessarily make that much sense. Despite all this, Cena and Undertaker is a match that hasn’t happened with a high profile for an extremely long time, which might be all that WWE needs to float the idea as a unique and meaningful experience.
4 SHOULDN’T WRESTLE: Hulk Hogan
Along with earlier entries on this list in Batista, Goldberg, and The Undertaker, the immortal Hulk Hogan was the last name mentioned by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter when speculating about potential marquee WrestleMania opponents for John Cena. It was surely with some trepidation Meltzer even floated the idea, as given Hogan’s advanced age and status with the mainstream media in general, he’s a seriously out there choice, no matter how famous he once was. Even if one is to ignore the fact Hogan is still somewhat of a social pariah for racial comments made on an illegally released sex tape, there’s the fact he’s literally a senior citizen who should be fully retired by now, not someone getting inside the wrestling ring for his latest return. There’s almost nothing Hogan could even do in the ring without breaking a hip, so Cena would need to gingerly dance around him, leading to a really weak match for all parties.
3 SHOULD WRESTLE: Shinsuke Nakamura
Okay, so the first match between John Cena and Shinsuke Nakamura didn’t amount to all that much. Of course, part of the problem was a severe lack of promotion, storyline, and general purpose, as the King of Strong Style and the face of WWE basically squared off for no reason. Sure, the winner got a WWE Championship match against Jinder Mahal, but the fact that match took place during a random Pay-Per-View seriously took the oomph out of things. A match on the Grandest Stage of Them All might be all either Cena or Nakamura needs to truly pull out all the stops, and a match between the two where they actually give it their all and put in a great performance could truly be something to behold. The only question is whether or not WWE would let them go all out, or force them to reign it in for another fairly forgettable affair.
2 SHOULDN’T WRESTLE: Jinder Mahal
Of all the huge mistakes Vince McMahon could possibly make at WrestleMania 34, the biggest would almost certainly be to have his biggest superstar of the past decade wrestle his biggest bomb in recent history. Jinder Mahal winning the WWE Championship was a huge shock to anyone paying attention to his career as a total jobber up until that sudden turning point, and not even holding the most important belt in wrestling for some six months did anything to change his status as a huge loser. Worse than any of that, knowing Vince McMahon, if he’s going to try and place Cena against Mahal, he’ll dig full force into the xenophobic racism that made fans so bored with Mahal’s entire character from day one. This will only make WWE look bad, and should obviously be avoided at all costs.
1 SHOULD WRESTLE: AJ Styles
On the one hand, there’s absolutely no reason for John Cena to win the Royal Rumble and challenge to become WWE Championship for the 17th time. In the long term, it would serve much better for WWE to go with someone else in the role, with yet another Showcase of Immortals ending with Cena on top feeling regressive at best. On the other hand, his matches against AJ Styles have been some of the best in recent history, and assuming the Phenomenal One will remain champion until that day, Cena might be the best choice possible for a truly classic match in the main event. If Styles should happen to win, he might even phenomenally take Cena’s place as the Face That Runs the Place, a status he’s been vying for basically since his debut. Either way, the fans would be the winners should these two lock up, which is reason enough for WWE to consider having them do so.