Credit to John Cena: He had a phenomenal Last Man Standing match with Bray Wyatt at Sunday’s Payback pay-per-view.
In fact, it wouldn’t be hyperbole to say it was one of the best Last Man Standing matches in wrestling history. It was easily the best bout of Wyatt’s entire WWE career and a welcome return to form for Cena in the ring after a difficult few months.
Indeed, the only real problem was the result: Cena won the bout after locking his foe in a big WWE equipment box in the production area.
Assuming the Cena vs. Wyatt feud is over—and really, after three pay-per-view matches in a row, it would have to be—Cena ultimately emerged victorious.
So, yes, the one man in the company who absolutely didn’t need the win, got it. Unsurprisingly, after the match was over, some fans and critics took to Twitter to complain:
Just heard Cena put over Bray as a premiere talent on the Payback post show. So why didn't you lose to him, huh? #disingenuous— Donald Neuhaus (@DoncoEnterprise) June 2, 2014
….. because John Cena can't just put Bray Wyatt over clean #WWEPayback— SEScoops (@sescoops) June 2, 2014
@WWE So you couldn't have John Cena put Bray Wyatt over clean again... Wow you must really hate your fans.— Sam Moffatt (@Smoff1992) June 3, 2014
I can understand their frustration. Man, will Vince McMahon and his team of bookers ever stop being so insanely protective of the former WWE champion?
It’s even more mind-boggling when you consider that Cena is getting older—he turned 37 recently—and has been badly hampered by muscle tears and neck problems in the last few years. He can’t go on forever; and it’s time for WWE to start preparing for a future without him. That the company doesn’t appear to be doing so is alarming.
Of course, some could point out that Wyatt still came out of the feud looking strong, which is true.
Was Wyatt aided in his feud with Cena? I would say so. He looked extremely credible for the most part. He also proved he can hang with a big main eventer in a long-term feud.
His impeccable mic work also forced Cena to raise his verbal game—for the most part, the 12 Rounds star avoided all the terrible jokes or midcard comedy that has burdened his mic work for years.
Who should have won at Payback?
Wyatt even managed to get the crowds strongly behind him at certain points, indicating that he may have a future as a top babyface if WWE plays its cards right.
However, the depressing thing is, he wasn’t helped nearly as much as he could have been. He lost twice—at WrestleMania XXX and Payback—and the one win he did get—at Extreme Rules—was rather tainted. Can you imagine how massively over he would be right now if Cena had actually put him over properly?
I expect Wyatt will continue to be in main events, and maybe even get a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship later this year. But, frankly, it’s not as sure a thing as it should be.
Really, Cena not putting Wyatt over definitively has to be one of the biggest booking errors of the year.