The wrestling world was stunned on the October 7 episode of Monday Night Raw when SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero announced that World Heavyweight champion Alberto Del Rio will defend his title against John Cena on October 27 at Hell in a Cell.
Cena had been out of action since August 19 when he revealed to the world that he had been working through a torn triceps muscle.
With the sports-entertainment world buzzing about the unexpected return, what should fans expect from Cena in his first match back?
Let's take a look.
John Cena had suffered two major injuries that resulted in missed ring time prior to this most recent one. In 2007, he tore his pectoral muscle. A year later, he was sidelined with a herniated disk in his neck.
In both instances, he returned to the squared circle with a bit of ring rust.
Following the first injury, Cena wrestled two major pay-per-view matches, one against Randy Orton at No Way Out 2008 and the other against Orton and Triple H at WrestleMania 24. In both of them, he appeared to be a bit off compared to how he looked prior to the pectoral tear.
After rehabbing his neck in the fall of '08, he returned to feud with Chris Jericho over the World Heavyweight Championship. Cena and Jericho had a history of producing really good matches but even fans of the two Hall of Fame-worthy Superstars had to admit their series of bouts in November and December did not quite live up to expectations.
Cena has not missed as much time with this latest injury as he did those two previous times but he has still been away from the ring long enough that it may take him a bit to regain his composure between the ropes.
A strong match
Even if Cena exhibits signs of ring rust, he will have a dance partner that should assure fans are satisfied with the match.
Alberto Del Rio has been one of the most consistently great in-ring stars of 2013. Matches against Big Show, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, Christian and Rob Van Dam have earned him consideration for Wrestler of the Year honors and now, an angle with the top star should help shine some light on his extraordinary title reign.
Cena and Del Rio have had several quality matches in the past, including a solid WWE title bout at Night of Champions and an outstanding Last Man Standing match at the Vengeance pay-per-view in 2011.
If history is any indication, the World Heavyweight champion and his challenger should be capable of a Match of the Night candidate.
A new champion...
Alberto Del Rio has been World Heavyweight champion for well over 200 days this year.
While he has delivered the best in-ring work of his career in 2013, it just feels like it is time for his title reign to come to an end.
Not because he has done anything wrong to warrant taking the title from him.
Not because he has not carried himself as a champion should.
Should Alberto Del Rio lose the WHC at Hell in a Cell? If so, who to?
Del Rio should lose his title on October 27 to help freshen up the World Heavyweight Championship picture.
The second-generation Mexican Superstar is not the type of performer who can utilize mic skills to remain fresh and interesting enough to carry the title for as long as he has. From a strictly in-ring standpoint, the title remains as prestigious as it has in a long time but in terms of its relevancy, it has taken a significant hit over the last two or three months.
A new champion would immediately create interest in the title that has not really been there since Dolph Ziggler feuded with Del Rio earlier in the summer.
Especially if that new champion is Cena, who has a tendency to attract attention.