Thus far, WWE has presented Cena as a more of a threat to Lesnar in order to create hope in the minds and hearts of his supporters.
In order to justify a rematch rather than a rerun, WWE may feel the need to book a match different from their August squash.
While there will almost certainly be differences from the Staples Center slaughter of Cena at SummerSlam, a significant change can be as simple as having the rematch end in a referee stoppage.
WWE has incorporated elements of mixed martial arts into Lesnar’s matches and character. The strategy has worked out, with Lesnar’s already formidable box-office stock exploding over the past year through a series of convincing, reality-based victories.
In the fighting world, there are several examples of title rematches ending with the newly crowned champion holding serve. Anderson Silva, widely considered the greatest UFC fighter of all time, was dethroned in convincing fashion by undefeated upstart Chris Weidman at UFC 162.
The result was as shocking as anything in title-bout history, however their rematch featured more of the same as Weidman remained in control before an unfortunate leg injury forced a doctor stoppage.
Would another loss to Brock Lesnar at Night of Champions hurt Cena's legacy?
Prior to Weidman’s Middleweight Championship victories, Silva began his historic reign by first stopping incumbent Rich Franklin in the first round at UFC 64 in 2006. At the time, Franklin was in the midst of an eight-match win streak dating back to 2004, but had met his match against an all-time great. Silva would stop Franklin in the exact same fashion in their return bout at UFC 77 as a new breed of Middleweight had been born.
One-sided rivalries in the UFC are very common, and also serve as a vital part of creating stars within each weight class.
Several stars of note came to prominence after consecutive victories over former champions. Tito Ortiz over Ken Shamrock at UFC 40, UFC 61 and UFC Fight Night 6.5. Chuck Liddell over Tito Ortiz at UFC 47 and UFC 66. Frankie Edgar over BJ Penn at UFC 112, UFC 118 and The Ultimate Fighter 19 Finale. Chuck Liddell over Randy Couture at UFC 52 and UFC 57. If reality-based fighting is what WWE is going for with Lesnar, his next win over Cena should already be penciled in.
The idea of yet another dominant performance by Lesnar shouldn’t be dismissed simply because it has already been done. It should however, be altered.
For the sake of entertainment and telling a story, Cena’s loss could come via referee stoppage, a finish that has been teased in each of their last two matches. Cena would be able to save face by never giving up, while Lesnar would continue his ascension as the WWE’s most dominant force. (Almost) Everybody wins.
Monday on Raw, Rusev defeated Jack Swagger via referee stoppage, perhaps to condition WWE fans to this type of finish. Michael Cole was sure to point out Swagger's refusal to give up despite a rib injury. Rusev’s offense, like Lesnar’s, is inspired by mixed martial arts with many kicks, throws and holds integrated into the foreigner’s assault.
Lesnar stopping Cena would not only highlight Cena’s refusal to quit during the match, it would also raise storyline-driven questions about whether Cena should quit, period.