WARNING: SPOILER AHEAD
Bray Wyatt will be facing John Cena at WWE Payback on Sunday, June 1. The announcement will be made on the May 16 edition of Friday Night SmackDown by Cena himself in a match that is the third of their rivalry.
That rivalry is tied one win each, and many fans feel that Cena is a sure thing to win the war at Payback. But even if that is the case, the fact is that Bray Wyatt must leave a lasting impact on WWE's top guy.
The truth is that in many ways, Bray is the perfect opponent for Cena. The man referred to as The Eater of Worlds is a throwback heel, a guy who is as dangerous on the mic as he is in the ring. He is no-nonsense, a Superstar who is not flashy, not loud and boisterous; Bray is a soft-spoken killer.
He smiles a wicked smile, one that very subtly says, "I can see right through you." Bray laughs in the face of his opponents, and despite how many times he falls, he returns wiser and more devious than before.
He has the mentality that John Cena would have as a heel. That is how well the two men match up.
And thus far, Bray's character has done an excellent job of playing mind games with Cena. Bray's use of riddles and threats regarding the taking of fans has thrown John off his game, more so than perhaps anyone could anticipate. Bray has been the nightmare opponent that many fans knew he would be.
But at some point, the faith that fans had in this angle has perhaps begun to waver. The reason for that is John Cena appears to not be fazed by anything that Bray has done.
The mind games appeared to be working at first, and there were moments when John seriously began to doubt himself. He seemed to be heading for some true character development, and that was something a great number of fans had been begging to see for quite some time.
The problem, though, is that it appears John Cena has already moved past the feud. He still gives Bray respect in promos, but John is basically still John, and that does not seem to be changing at all.
In fact, some would argue Cena's win at the upcoming Payback pay-per-view is a foregone conclusion.
It will be the rubber match, and to imagine Cena would put Bray over to the point that he actually loses the feud seems highly unlikely. However that does not mean Bray cannot emerge from his program with John a little stronger than before.
But that hinges entirely on whether or not he can leave a lasting impact on Cena. Win or lose, Bray must be able to say he directly affected John in some way.
If there are no bragging rights to be had for Bray in the end, then he at least needs to be able to say that he took John to the limit. Cena needs to know Bray was there.
This should be one of those feuds that defines Cena. Months after it's over, WWE should be able to reference this rivalry when discussing Cena and how far he has come in recent years. John Cena himself should be able to refer back to this rivalry as the one that helped him gain a new edge in his career.
Anything less would be a disappointment for Bray and for fans.
The question is what would that lasting impact be? Would it be the sum total of all the mind games that Cena has had to endure from Bray? Or would it be something more specific, a singular event that is due to take place at Payback?
And what would that event be? Could fans see The Wyatt Family perhaps abduct Nikki Bella? Her connection to John makes her a target, and that fact could be realized soon. Would WWE go to those lengths to show Bray's impact on Cena's character?
The fact is that even if Bray ends this feud staring up at the lights at Payback, he should be able to have some sort of lasting impact on John Cena's WWE career. Otherwise, all the work he's put in could very well be meaningless.
WWE has the opportunity to show some depth of character with Cena, and it may not have this sort of opportunity again anytime soon. Bray Wyatt is such a unique character very capable of mentally testing and perhaps even destroying his opponent. And he needs to have an effect similar to that on John Cena.
Cena needs to remember this rivalry, and fans want to. It's up to WWE and John Cena himself to make that happen.