John Cena's WWE Championship reign will only be successful if he has credible opponents facing him.
Having had feuds and matches with nearly everyone on the current roster, Cena will need new opponents to face.
There are five Superstars who could bring out the best in John Cena. Each of these men also could help to bring a serious side back to Cena's persona.
Honorable mentions of who could face John Cena are Daniel Bryan, Kassius Ohno, and CM Punk.
Daniel Bryan would be an especially helpful foe for John Cena. The technical skill of Bryan would be an incredible counter to Cena's brute strength. Also, Bryan's ability to have excellent and compelling matches would make Cena look stronger in the ring.
There does not need to be a traditional "good guy/bad guy" story here. Fans should decide whom they want to win without elaborate narration in order to keep focus on the Cena vs. Bryan matches.
Ohno is capable of telling an excellent narrative story in the ring with plenty of intensity. His recent match on NXT with William Regal told a fantastic story that revolved around a head injury to Regal and Ohno’s fingers being “broken” during the match.
Seeing John Cena and Kassius Ohno in a feud would provide a huge boost to Ohno’s career and give Cena a brand new foil.
Finally, CM Punk has been an incredible opponent for John Cena in the past and could be again in the future. Their storied feud has provided many memorable moments and matches. WWE could easily reignite this feud at any point.
Big E Langston can be seen wrestling occasionally on WWE programming, but he is used mostly as Dolph Ziggler’s bodyguard.
Langston wrestles much more on NXT where he is the current NXT Champion. He demonstrates his incredible power against his opponent in all of his matches.
Representing an ideal opponent for John Cena, he can match Cena's strength and intensity.
When Langston pins his opponent on NXT, he demands that the referee deliver a five-count instead of the traditional three-count. After delivering his thunderous finisher, the Big Ending, Langston continues humiliating his opponent with the five-count.
If this aspect of Langston was brought to WWE, it could be used to intimidate John Cena.
The type of intensity is exactly what John Cena needs in an opponent. Langston’s massive size could be parlayed into a serious threat to Cena’s WWE Championship.
At number 5, Big E Langston could literally be a huge challenge to John Cena. This would not be the first time that Cena has taken on someone larger or stronger as one of Cena’s first high-profile feuds in WWE was with The Big Show in 2004.
Corey Graves is another NXT Superstar and standout performer. With slicked hair, side burns and tattoos, Graves’ look is completely the opposite of John Cena’s.
In interviews on NXT, Graves shows the front of fists to reveal his tattoo that reads across his fingers, “Stay Down.” A blue collar pro wrestler with an edge, Graves wears jeans and suspenders draped around his waist.
Whereas John Cena’s persona cares about the WWE Universe and their reaction positive or negative, Corey Graves’ persona only cares about himself and winning. On the NXT Wrestling website, Graves is quoted as saying, "I'm here to make Sports Entertainment dangerous again."
If given a chance, Graves could definitely bring a sense of danger to Cena's WWE Championship reign.
Also, Graves is more than capable of going toe-to-toe with Cena on the microphone. Graves gets plenty of time in interviews on NXT and is capable to delivering captivating promos.
At number 4, Corey Graves could definitely give John Cena a worthwhile feud. He is everything that John Cena is not in terms of edginess and seriousness.
When it comes to size and stature, The Shield’s Roman Reigns possesses both.
Reigns is another NXT Superstar who has made his name known in WWE. With his incredible trademark maneuvers, the spear and gigantic powerbomb, Reigns can definitely match John Cena’s strength.
The seriousness that Reigns could bring to a feud with Cena is exactly what could make it work well. It would be difficult for Cena to make jokes in the face of Reigns. Treated as a real threat to Cena’s WWE Championship, the potential of Reigns to strike true fear in Cena could realistically happen.
If Cena is described as WWE’s version of Superman by WWE.com, it is entirely possible that Reigns could be his Kryptonite.
For this feud to work, Roman Reigns would need to be positioned as the heavy favorite with John Cena as the underdog. Reigns could be positioned as the favorite in the match through convincing attacks and the decimation of his opponents leading to a match with Cena.
A much more focused Cena would be needed to help make Reigns seem convincing as someone who could actually take the championship away. Cena should be put into a position of fearing for his career in this feud in order to make Reigns seem invincible.
At number 3, Roman Reigns represents someone with a mysterious enough aura to make John Cena have to be more serious. The power and strength of Reigns more than matches Cena’s. If given the chance, Reigns could give Cena a magnificent feud.
Fandango is largely a comedic part of WWE programming. Whether he is demanding others to say his name correctly or telling Lillian Garcia that she cannot dance, the Fandango persona is all for laughs.
Potentially, the Fandango character could be much more brooding and darker in character.
With a more violent streak, less flash and more of a psychotic tone, Fandango could be someone that truly strikes fear into opponents. This could happen slowly but deliberately as Fandango wins more matches and gains more of an edge.
For the Fandango persona to continue successfully, it will need to go evolve to stay from becoming tiresome and boring.
A meaner Fandango without the comedy could give John Cena a unique feud in the future.
Instead of dancing to “ChaChaLaLa,” Fandango could perform a darker tango against John Cena.
At number 2, Fandango is an unlikely foil for John Cena. If Fandango was to become a more shadowy character, he could definitely pose a unique threat to Cena. This feud could work if Cena is not able to make petty jokes at Fandango’s expense. A more threatening Fandango without comedic overtones would be needed for this feud to be memorable.
Dean Ambrose is one of the most dynamic WWE Superstars today.
His unique mannerisms while performing in the ring leaves no imagination to how what emotion he is trying to convey. When a powerful move is done to Ambrose, he wrenches his face pain and convulses his body.
When Ambrose is on the offense in a match, his facial expression is usually a demented smile conveying his violent enjoyment.
Dean Ambrose’s persona is that of a loose cannon who can surprise his opponent at any moment. Of course, this has been demonstrated through his work with The Shield and its surprise appearances during WWE events.
Unleashed from The Shield to go after John Cena, Dean Ambrose could pose a threat to the WWE Championship because of his unpredictability.
On Dean Ambrose’s WWE.com biography, he is quoted as saying, “I like violence. I like danger. I live life to feel alive.” Ambrose has a history of sacrificing his own body in order to exert violence on an opponent.
A feud with Ambrose would provide Cena with a unique challenge against an opponent who seemingly has no fear. This challenge could boost Cena’s new WWE Championship reign into something truly memorable.
At number 1, Dean Ambrose is the best future feud for John Cena. The unpredictability and willingness to do anything to win is what makes Ambrose so dangerous to Cena. When looking for a new number 1 contender to Cena’s WWE Championship, Ambrose should be looked to in order to provide Cena with something captivating and not done before.
Read more from Sean McCallon on the Double Axe Handle Blog.