Bray Wyatt is headed for a showdown with John Cena at WWE Payback on Sunday, June 1. The bout is a Last Man Standing match between the two men, and they are tied at one win each after the last two pay-per-views.
And while many fans feel that Cena will go over at Payback and ultimately win the feud, the fact is that Bray's impact must be felt before it ends. That means that he needs a strong showing at Payback.
In many ways, Bray has been the perfect opponent for Cena. The self-dubbed Eater of Worlds has been the darkness of Cena's shadow, the devil's advocate for everything that John stands for. Bray directly challenged Cena's character, believing that he was not the man he claimed to be.
While John Cena smiled and stood tall as WWE's top guy, Bray Wyatt was lurking in the background, eager to tell the world that it was all an illusion.
Since their rivalry began, Bray has used his ability to connect with the crowd on a very real level. He speaks to them as if he understands them, relating to them as a friendly messenger. His message about John Cena was that Cena has been a hypocrite.
Bray believed that John was just not who he claimed to be. This was key to getting Bray over in this storyline, as many WWE fans have actually been of that same opinion. For them, Cena was a guy whose time as the top star had run its course.
And his gimmick was extremely tired, to say the least.
Indeed, the phrase "and Cena kicks out at two," had become a very familiar one with John's critics. Though John was indeed the company's top star, it represented fan frustration over his penchant for very rarely losing matches despite what was thrown at him physically.
However, it was not Bray's physicality that rocked John back on his heels; it was his psychological warfare.
Wyatt pushed Cena to his absolute limit, shaking John's belief in the crowd that was usually split right down the middle when it came to their support of him. For perhaps the first time, John publicly questioned the judgment of fans; more specifically, their fascination with Bray Wyatt.
The truth is that Cena was playing right into Bray's hands. To cause internal doubt, to force John to wonder if anyone believed in him anymore—that was what Bray wanted. And it all happened according to his plan.
But despite how many fans believed John could come up short on this feud, the fact is that does not appear to be the case.
Cena looks better than ever, and at moments it appears that he is completely unaffected by Bray's mind games. But that does not mean that all of Wyatt's work should go to waste. So when Payback comes around, Bray Wyatt must give a strong showing.
Truth be told, Bray deserves to look good. He is thought of as a talent who has the ability to do great things in the company. No matter what his current station may be, the fact is that many of the WWE faithful can imagine him on the very top.
And a Superstar typically does not reach that level by failing when facing the big names.
So despite who actually wins this feud, the fact is that Bray should have a strong showing at Payback against John Cena. Even if John goes over in predictable fashion, it should be Bray who's left to boast concerning what he did to WWE's No. 1 Superstar.
Payback could see John Cena rise to the occasion regardless of what Bray Wyatt does. But that does not mean that Bray should roll over and play dead for Cena. Bray needs to truly show up at Payback, and he needs to look stronger than ever before.