Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe.
John Cena Heading Back to Hollywood
Cena's quest to win a 17th world championship, which would break a tie with Ric Flair for the most in WWE history, will have to wait.
After his loss to Roman Reigns in the main event of SummerSlam on Saturday night, Cena will return to his acting commitments in Hollywood. WWE officials are under the impression he "will not be available for them for the foreseeable future," according to PWInsider (via Marc Middleton of Wrestling Inc.).
The report noted Cena is still expected to work the Sept. 10 SmackDown event at Madison Square Garden, but that'll be a one-off appearance, potentially in a dark match, and not part of an active storyline.
He later confirmed his departure, but hinted toward another return in the future:
John Cena @JohnCena
Words cannot describe how appreciative I am that the <a href="https://twitter.com/WWEUniverse?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WWEUniverse</a> allowed me the opportunity to return and perform. Thank you staff, superstars, and most of all FANS for giving me an unforgettable summer at “home” with my “family”. The journey takes me away now but I’ll C U soon.
Cena made a surprise comeback to the company at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view in July to set the stage for his SummerSlam feud with Reigns. He provided a significant short-term boost by appearing on Raw, SmackDown and at live events.
While the 44-year-old Massachusetts native once used The Rock's departure for Hollywood as ammo for promos throughout their long-standing feud that covered WrestleManias 28 and 29, he's now mastered the art himself of having a career outside WWE but still coming back to the squared circle on occasion.
Cena forced Reigns to elevate his performances over the past five weeks, especially during their verbal exchanges, and The Head of the Table should benefit from that as his championship run rolls on. Brock Lesnar returned in the final moments of SummerSlam to set the stage for his next marquee feud.
Becky Lynch Will Be Pushed As SmackDown's No. 1 Heel
Lynch made her long-awaited return at SummerSlam by replacing Sasha Banks in a SmackDown Women's Championship match against Bianca Belair, which she won in under a minute.
The squash nature of the match caught a lot of people off guard because Belair had firmly established herself as one of WWE's top talents since her WrestleMania triumph, but now the reason for the quick match may be coming into focus.
PWInsider reported (via Sai Mohan of Wrestling Inc.) Lynch will operate as the "top heel" on SmackDown following her return.
So, while her comeback was always going to generate a positive reaction from the fans, taking care of Belair in the blink of an eye will provide the foundation for a quick heel turn as she makes her return to weekly television. She's done a terrific job in heel roles in the past, so it's a smart creative move.
The feud between Lynch and Belair should be one of WWE's top attractions in the months ahead, and the women's division as a whole has incredible depth, which creates no shortage of storyline options heading toward the end of the year and into next year's key Royal Rumble and WrestleMania events.
Lynch was away from the company after giving birth to her daughter, Roux, in December with husband and fellow WWE Superstar Seth Rollins.
Sasha Banks' Availability Remains Uncertain
Lynch's addition to the SummerSlam card came at the expense of Banks, who's been absent from WWE's travel party since the weekend of Aug. 14 for reasons that have not been made public.
Banks was tentatively scheduled to return for Friday's go-home episode of SmackDown but wasn't available, which forced the creative team to rewrite portions of the show, per PWInsider (via Middleton).
Although the reason for her continued absence is unknown, it's "not an injury issue," according to the PWInsider report.
WWE officials are "hopeful that Banks will be back soon," but so far there's been no confirmed date for her next appearance after being removed from the SummerSlam title match with Belair.
In early 2019, Banks took four months off following WrestleMania to focus on her mental health.
"I've been doing this for seven years straight—no breaks," she said upon her return in September 2019. "So you know, people need to step back and re-evaluate their lives, take care of their souls and their minds."
Banks is one of WWE's most well-rounded performers, so her absence is definitely a hit to the SmackDown roster despite the division's aforementioned depth. She should swiftly return to the main event picture once back in action.
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