John Cena’s time at the Royal Rumble should not be then, but later.
At the WWE Royal Rumble, John Cena will be three seconds away from tying Ric Flair’s record 16 world title reigns. If WWE is smart, they will not pull the trigger and let their cash cow for the past decade tie this illustrious, if not controversial, record.
Article continues below ...
At least, not yet.
Cena has been the WWE’s number one guy for a very long time. For the most part, he’s been in the ring every single night – barring injuries. Time not spent in the ring has been dedicated to finding new ways to stretch WWE’s global reach even further, like him learning to speak Mandarin.
Cena has his negatives when it comes to in-ring work, but his overall positives far-outweigh those negatives, and make it so that if anybody should be tying or breaking Flair’s record, it’s Cena. However, this year’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view is not the right time for it.
WWE has already spent some time establishing Cena’s chase of Flair’s record as a big deal. It’s a WrestleMania-worthy moment.
Some might say that Cena’s feud with current WWE Champion AJ Styles has built so well to this match that it will be time for him to defeat Styles at the Rumble, but it would be even better if Styles does retain at The Alamodome.
Picture this: Cena, for the first time in his career, is unable to overcome an opponent. He can’t beat Styles. He has to spend the time between the Rumble and WrestleMania establishing that he deserves another shot. He’s already played the “I’m John Cena” card. Now he has to truly earn it.
Have him go out on SmackDown and get in some singles matches. He’s going to have to beat a few young guys, but if it plays out anything like the US Championship Open Challenge, he can definitely put those guys over in the process.
Plus, he can use that time to continue his career renaissance that has actually started to get the adult male crowd behind him when he never could get them in the past.
It’s tough to imagine WWE delaying a big win for Cena, but this is the time to do it. They’ve spent his entire career having him overcome odds that nobody saw as unsurmountable, but this could do it for people. Plus, Styles could come out on the other end of this looking like a star, which will help when Cena takes more time away from the company.
At the end, it all comes to a head at the biggest show of the year, WrestleMania 33 in Orlando, when Cena finally gets the best of Styles and wins his 16th world title, tying Flair in the building that Shawn Michaels retired him in, ten years earlier.
Everybody knows he’s going to tie the record and probably break it eventually. The only way to limit backlash from fans who don’t think he’s on Flair’s level is to make the ride to get there as fun and interesting as possible, and there’s nobody better for that than AJ, who is arguably the best wrestler in the world right now.