To the surprise of almost no one, John Cena walked out of Battleground with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, thus setting him up for a showdown with Brock Lesnar at next month's SummerSlam pay-per-view.
As Marc Middleton of WrestlingInc.com noted, the promotional materials for SumerSlam were leaked last month, hence why most fans can expect a Lesnar-Cena collision even though it's not quite official yet.
In this bout with Cena, the former MMA star absolutely has to win the belt. It's the only real option the booking team has right now.
First of all, WWE absolutely has to capitalize on Lesnar ending The Undertaker's WrestleMania streak.
It remains to be seen whether the company made the right call in allowing Lesnar to go over. You could argue that the bookers sacrificed one of the last few stipulations that meant anything simply to swerve everyone and give them a shocking moment.
But if the company is going to get anything at all out of it, The Beast has to win the title. It's the next logical step in his ascent to the top of the company; otherwise, Undertaker's historic loss will feel like a big waste.
What was the point of even doing it if Lesnar wasn’t going to get a massive push out of it?
Besides, isn’t it time to give a (relatively) fresh face a chance with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship?
Oh, Cena’s a perfectly fine champion—he’s one of the only full-time stars WWE has left who can be relied on to carry the company—but his current run isn’t exactly setting the world on fire, is it? It’s OK…and that’s about it.
No matter how the company books him, everything he does with the belt has a “seen-it-all-before” quality to it. He’s held the belt so many times that this was inevitable.
Perhaps most crucially, at a time when most WWE pay-per-views are sinking into irrelevance—these supposedly special events mostly come off as glorified Raws. A Lesnar title win at SummerSlam would make them feel like a big deal again. That’s something the company desperately needs right now.
Critics could point out that Lesnar’s light schedule—he only works a handful of matches a year and makes sporadic appearances on Raw—makes him unsuitable to hold the belt. They could say that a champion has to be willing to work all the dates possible and be fully committed.
Personally, I disagree. It’s hard to see WWE’s house show business plummeting just because the champion isn’t appearing frequently. Busy A–list Hollywood star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson held the title for a while in 2013, and the world didn’t end.
Who should win at Summerslam?
The bookers can simply accommodate Lesnar’s absences. It helps that he’ll have Paul Heyman to show up every week on television as his representative.
And, hey, who doesn’t want Heyman, easily one of the best talkers in the history of the business, to have more promo and interview time?
In conclusion, WWE making the call to have Cena go over at SummerSlam would be a colossal error—maybe one of the biggest it’s made in years. It would be an absolute joke.
While the creative team has made a lot of mistakes in recent times, even it must realize this.