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John Cena Challenges 'Assh--e' Roman Reigns to WWE Universal Title Bout at SummerSlam

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 20, 2021

Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images

John Cena left no doubt about his intentions following his shocking return to WWE at Money in the Bank on Sunday night.

The 16-time world champion opened Raw and said he wants to challenge Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship at SummerSlam. He proceeded to call Reigns an "assh--e" and expressed a desire to end his reign as The Head of the Table on SmackDown.

WWE @WWE

🀯🀯🀯🀯🀯<a href="https://twitter.com/JohnCena?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JohnCena</a> has laid down the challenge for <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UniversalChampion?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#UniversalChampion</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/WWERomanReigns?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WWERomanReigns</a> at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SummerSlam?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SummerSlam</a> ... and he'll be at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SmackDown?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SmackDown</a> this Friday to see The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HeadOfTheTable?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HeadOfTheTable</a> in person again! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WWERaw?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WWERaw</a> <a href="https://t.co/kyYSBbyxvw">pic.twitter.com/kyYSBbyxvw</a>

Reigns was in the process of celebrating his victory over Edge in the Money in the Bank main event when Cena's unmistakable entrance theme cascaded across Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.

While the legendary star didn't say anything before the pay-per-view wrapped up, no words were necessary to understand his purpose in coming back to the ring.

Reigns has run through a number of challengers since capturing the universal title at Payback last August. There aren't many realistic contenders left on the SmackDown roster, thus creating an obvious vacuum heading into SummerSlam.

Cena, on the other hand, is a genuine threat for Reigns.

Aside from getting The Rock to put his acting career on hold, Cena vs. Reigns is also the biggest single match WWE can book right now.

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As Reigns was rising to the top of WWE as a singles star, Cena was beginning to burnish his profile in Hollywood. As a result, these two haven't crossed paths much in one-on-one situations. Their only PPV singles match was at No Mercy 2017.

The two exchanged personal insults on the microphone building up to the show, but the occasion didn't seem to carry the significance befitting a battle of this magnitude. It felt like WWE rushed to put the storyline together because it could see the writing on the wall about Cena's transition into major motion pictures.

Now, the promotion has a little more than a month to generate buzz ahead of SummerSlam and emphasize the stakes involved.

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