He's reigned atop the WWE for longer than anyone except Bruno Sammartino, but even John Cena has an expiration date. With his movie career finally taking off, Cena has indeed been harder to see for WWE fans. He did warn us we couldn't see him after all, and it seems that's what's happening. Nonetheless, if The Rock and Batista are anything to go on he'll make the occasional appearance here and there before he hangs it up for good.
When that final bell tolls though, who should be across the ring from him? Cena has racked up a whole roster's worth of viable enemies. He's also got a bunch of new potential opponents who would benefit from putting him out to pasture. The list of guys lining up for the spot is going to be endless because chances are it will be hugely significant to their own careers. Since it can't be Edge, won't be CM Punk, and The Rock is a busy guy, here are the most likely and most satisfying potential career-enders for John Cena.
10 The Miz
They've main-evented Wrestlemania together. They've fought with their women by their side at Wrestlemania. The Miz owned The Marine series after John Cena established it. They have even held the WWE Tag Team championships together! They are cut from the same cloth of excellent talkers and solid wrestlers.
The only thing stopping this from being John Cena's retirement opponent is simply that they've already done it all already. The Miz chased and dogged Cena from the moment he got traded to Raw back in 2009. Since then they've faced off innumerable times in every conceivable match type. Nevertheless, if WWE comes up with the right twist to the tale, The Miz should definitely be on the shortlist for Cena's finale foe.
9 Dean Ambrose
As of this writing Dean still 'hasn't re-signed with the WWE' but we're banking that that isn't how it'll stay. Dean is a great potential opponent for Cena on the way out. They've crossed paths many times, a lot of those with The Shield involved, but Dean is the best matchup of the three to Cena's style.
He brawls, throws wild haymakers, he's a flailing frenzy with a motormouth that can match Cena any day of the week inside and outside the ring. The two also have some of the low-key best comedy chemistry in WWE. Anything they did backstage on Raw in 2014 is worth revisiting. They also have fiery exchanges in their past where Ambrose got up on Cena verbally, no small feat. Incidentally, Dean is another to inherit a movie series started by Cena, when he starred in 12 Rounds 3. Guess who else got to go 12 Rounds...
8 Randy Orton
Outtanowhere!! It's Cena's forever-foe, Randell Keith Orton. The star of 12 Rounds 2 has gone against Cena so many times it's like a Family Guy joke. But this might be the time where it stops being bad and gets good again. Randy Orton has seemingly never been better. His mic work has caught up to his silky smooth wrestling and that's no small compliment.
These two have mirrored each other as foes to the point it'd almost be a shame if they never got one last chance to top everything from before. The two of them have yet to have that match but if they could pull it off in this scenario they'd only increase both of their stock. It'd take some fiery promos to sell the crowd on this repeat offender but there might just be enough tasty juice left to merit one more squeeze.
7 Aleister Black
Jumping from Cena's contemporary to his polar opposite. Aleister Black is someone who is so unlike Cena in every facet that the clash of styles makes the match. Black's lean, tattooed frame is not half reminiscent of one CM Punk and if these two have half that chemistry, it needs to happen.
Aleister Black is someone who could greatly benefit from being the one who put John out to pasture. Black also has the type of diamond-hard character that Cena could contend with philosophically, deepening the meaning to the big final confrontation. The final line almost writes itself. 'Go back to making movies, John. In the end, they all 'Fade To Black' too. A dark horse, but also an intriguing matchup.
6 Samoa Joe
We might be getting this one at Wrestlemania this year if Cena clears his schedule. Samoa Joe has actually got the lengthiest connection to John Cena of anyone, the pair having trained and fought in California's UPW fresh into the new millennium. Two long, separate paths followed but the pair are both now in WWE and if nothing else, we know the war of words would be legendary.
Samoa Joe has been spitting fire since he arrived in NXT in 2015. The verbal beatdown he could give Cena with all the ammo he has stored would ignite any arena. John returning fire would be just as good, and then to top it off with Cena's last match would be very fitting.
5 Kevin Owens
The man who instantly got made on WWE Raw by pinning John Cena clean to the mat. Still reigning as the NXT champion, Kevin Owens burst onto Raw to have a stellar series of matchups with Cena in 2015. If the two could approach anything close to that quality one more time, then this is the match to close Cena's curtain. Kevin Owens has made a career of never stopping the verbal assault, you can hear it in any match he takes part in.
That constant barrage makes him magnetic to watch and Cena's chemistry with him only means good things. Kevin has come back from injury looking fitter than ever as well, so we might be in store for his seldom-used aerial prowess. We got a glimpse of it in their initial matches, but sparingly since. Springboard, twisting moonsaults for everyone, please! And one final Stunner for John so he can go down to the greatest finisher in wrestling history.
If this isn't the endgame for R-Truth proclaiming Cena is his hero then what's the point? R-Truth's ability to stay the same while Cena has suddenly turned into the elder statesman of WWE is hilarious. The pair have history, facing off in a WWE Championship match at Capitol Punishment '11 at the height of his Little Jimmy phase, the last time Truth was featured in the main events at all.
You could easily craft a story that this current infatuation with Cena was a ruse to lure him back in revenge for that defeat. Or you could keep him blitheringly silly and madcap and have Cena end his career in a dance-off. None of these are out of the realm of possibility for WWE and the notoriously self-deprecating Cena. The choice is whether John wants to go more 'Sports Entertainment' than Pro Wrestling for his departure. If he's feeling silly, go for Truth.
You owe him one, John. A big one. Rusev has the distinction of having one of John Cena's most famous victories when he was the first to topple the Bulgarian Brute at Wrestlemania 31 after Rusev came out riding a freakin' tank! The two have crossed paths since then, Cena winning in flag matches and generally taking the patriotic side against Lana's 'Handsome Rusev.'
But Rusev has shown himself to be more than a generic foreigner monster to be beaten, and getting final revenge on Cena would do wonders for him. It would also make sense because he and Cena both use power and have devastating submissions in their arsenal. Rusev is in need of something major at this point, and Cena's retirement fits the bill.
2 Daniel Bryan
The Planet's Champion has so much built-in 'beef' with his almost-brother-in-law that he'd probably consider it inedible. The Bella Twins connection is an easy place to start things, Nikki/John murkiness aside. Cena is the man Bryan won his first WWE Championship off of so the history between them is there. Bryan could use the fact Cena ostensibly brought him back to WWE via the 2010 SummerSlam as fuel.
Bryan also coined the phrase 'You're a parody of Pro Wrestling' to Cena's face before defeating him for the WWE Championship. Therefore, Cena gaining Bryan's respect before the end would be a nice capper to it all. The main point is that Daniel Bryan would probably give Cena his best match in years to end things, although there's one person we suspect may even edge out Bryan due to chemistry with Cena.
1 AJ Styles
When you've made a catchphrase out of 'Beat Up John Cena' you're doing something right. When your matches with John Cena put almost all his other matches to shame, you're doing everything right! AJ Styles is a ridiculous performer at a level rarely seen. Now that he's confirmed to have re-signed with WWE they'd feel absolutely comfortable giving him something this big. Between their matches at SummerSlam and the infamous Royal Rumble match where Cena won his last WWE Championship (to date) these two have never failed to deliver.
Cena brought out the best in AJ in terms of character as well. The cocky, confident athletic-marvel version is still AJ's best. Critically, Cena inspired AJ's best promos too. The story writes itself, where a battle-weary Cena proclaims that like Ric Flair, if he can't beat the best, then he's going to hang up the boots... er, sneakers. Chalk this up as our favorite option.