Hulk Hogan vs. John Cena Should Take Place at WrestleMania 31

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistApril 2, 2014

This image released by Starpix shows professional wresting personalities Hulk Hogan, left, and John Cena on top of the The Hard Rock Cafe during a news conference for Wrestlemania 30 on Tuesday, April 1, 2014 in New York. Wrestlemania 30 will be held on Sunday, April 6 in New Orleans .  (AP Photo/Starpix, Dave Allocca)
Dave Allocca

After watching Hulk Hogan decide to return to the WWE as the host of WrestleMania XXX in New Orleans, it has become abundantly clear John Cena should challenge the legend to a match at WrestleMania 31 in Santa Clara, Calif.

It is unorthodox to think of a 60-year-old man wrestling a match at WrestleMania—he would be 61 in 2015—but Hogan and Cena are two of the biggest stars in the history of the sport.

If Hogan has enough in the tank for one final match, it should be Cena next year.

The cultural relevance of Hogan can’t be discounted. This is the man who took the sport of professional wrestling and brought it to the mainstream. Whether it was his unparalleled success in the ring through the 1980s as part of the WWF, his participation in movies like Rocky III or his shocking turn in WCW as Hollywood Hogan, Hulk has become one of the most recognizable faces in all of entertainment.

While Cena has found great success during his time as the top man in the WWE, amassing 14 world title victories, there is no championship that could compare to the rub of stepping into the ring with Hogan.

Just as Shawn Michaels retired Ric Flair at WrestleMania 24, Cena should be the man bestowed the honor of ending Hogan’s in-ring career officially at WrestleMania 31. The moment that Michaels and Flair created on that night was one of the best WrestleMania memories of all time, and the WWE has the unique opportunity to craft a segment between Hogan and Cena that is just as special.

It would be a fitting end to the Hulkster’s legendary career. When asked about wrestling Hogan, Cena told Sam Roberts, via Wrestling Inc., about the potential matchup:

I would love that, but in the same vein, I would love it to be in 1985. That's why I love the matches with The Rock so much... you wanna get in that situation where a person is truly in their prime. But if he's got one more, I'm ready, willing and able.

The proposed match would be hinged on the health of Hogan and his ability to get in proper shape for the final match. While there is always a chance Hogan’s body is too damaged to ever step in the ring again, there is a chance this bout comes to fruition if he spends the next year preparing his body for one last match.

The bout between Hogan and Cena would be reminiscent of the match in 2002 at WrestleMania 18 between The Rock and Hogan. At that time, The Rock was the biggest star in the industry, and the meeting between the two legends created an incredible moment.

With Cena clearly the face of the WWE for the last decade, Hogan and Cena would have the chance to create a similar moment on the WrestleMania stage.

The two men came together on the March 10 edition of Raw, and the wrestling world understood the magnitude of the situation:

The Rock also worked a similar program against Cena over the last two WrestleMania pay-per-views, and it was during those bouts Cena proved he could handle working with Hogan. While The Rock was in impeccable condition, he wasn’t the wrestler he was earlier in his career, and Cena protected him in their matches.

It will undoubtedly be much tougher working within the limitations of Hogan’s ability in the ring, but the matchup will be as much about the initial stare-down and ending as it would be the actual in-ring action.

This is the kind of dream matchup all wrestling fans could get behind, and the only stage worthy of a bout this huge would be WrestleMania. With next year’s annual PPV taking place north of Venice Beach in Santa Clara, the geographical ties to Hogan (billed from Southern California) would make this event even more special for the raucous crowd.

There is no doubt the match has the potential to be a train wreck from a technical standpoint, but the risk is worth the reward in terms of marketing. With Hogan advertised to appear on Raw the night after WrestleMania and the SmackDown tapings the following night, according to Marc Middleton of Wrestling Inc., the WWE could build the match between Hogan and Cena for the next year.

A full year of preparation for a match of this magnitude would create a ton of publicity.

Just as the year-long build for The Rock vs. John Cena was an advertising success for the company, the same amount of build for Hogan’s return to the ring and his official retirement match would bring back wrestling fans from all generations.

Vince McMahon would make so much money on merchandise and ticket sales due to the battle between the two men, and the overall product would boom as more and more eyes tune in to see what happens next. The fiscal potential will be too much to ignore.

Wrestling fans across the world are focused on the excitement of WrestleMania XXX and the unforgettable moments the show will create, but WWE is always thinking ahead.

Don’t be surprised when a match between Hogan and Cena is subtly teased Sunday.


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