WWE Rumors on John Cena's Next Match, Bayley's Injury Return, Io Shirai's Contract

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 1, 2022

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JANUARY 31: John Cena attends Universal Pictures Presents The Road To F9 Concert and Trailer Drop on January 31, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Universal Pictures)
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Universal Pictures

Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe.

Cena's Return Match Delayed Until WrestleMania?

It was widely assumed that John Cena was set for a match in the near future after making his WWE return on Monday's episode of Raw, but that reportedly may not be the case.

According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Subhojeet Mukherjee of Ringside News), WWE may delay Cena's in-ring return for WrestleMania 39, which is set to take place in April 2023 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

Cena returned to WWE for a brief run last summer in between his Hollywood filming commitments. In addition to working house shows, he faced Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship at SummerSlam in a losing effort.

Given the timing of his return to Raw this year to celebrate his 20-year anniversary in WWE, it seemed likely that Cena was ticketed for another SummerSlam match, perhaps against United States champion Theory.

Theory has been calling Cena out for quite some time on social media, and they finally met face-to-face on Raw with Theory verbally running Cena down backstage, only for the 16-time world champion to walk away.

That clearly seemed like the initial setup for a match, but Meltzer's report suggests it may not happen until further down the line.

Among the reasons for Meltzer suggesting that Cena won't wrestle in the near future is the fact that WWE isn't advertising any future appearances by the leader of the Cenation, which would be a bad move on WWE's part if there are plans to use him since Cena has big-time drawing power in terms of ticket sales and television ratings.

It is always possible that WWE pivots and involves Cena sooner, but fans of the future Hall of Famer may have to wait until next year before seeing him mix it up in the ring again.

Timeline for Bayley's Return from Injury

About one year into her absence due to a torn ACL, Bayley reportedly may be on the verge of making her return to WWE.

According to Meltzer (h/t Mukherjee), Bayley is scheduled to be back in the ring "somewhat soon," although a specific timetable wasn't provided.

It typically takes between nine and 12 months for a wrestler to return from a torn ACL, placing Bayley at the tail end of that timeline currently.

Bayley suffered the injury while training at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, forcing WWE to call off her scheduled SmackDown Women's Championship match against Bianca Belair at Money in the Bank in July of last year.

This year's Money in the Bank pay-per-view is set for Saturday, so there would be poetic justice in Bayley making her return at the event, particularly if she attacks Belair following her Raw women's title defense against Carmella.

Prior to getting injured, Bayley was one of the best heels in WWE, and she was consistently presented as one of the top stars in the women's division.

She also holds the WWE record for the longest SmackDown Women's Championship reign, holding it for 379 days before dropping it to Sasha Banks in October 2020.

Bayley got injured shortly before WWE went back to full-time touring in front of fans after having to hold their shows in empty venues for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because of that, Bayley promises to receive a massive reaction from the WWE Universe when she finally returns.

Shirai's WWE Contract Reportedly Expiring Soon

Former NXT women's champion Io Shirai's WWE contract is reportedly set to expire in the near future.

According to Meltzer (h/t Mukherjee), Shirai did not sign her latest contract offer from WWE, and if she does not sign a new deal with the company soon, her contract will expire next month.

Meltzer added that Shirai has told people in her home country of Japan that she wants to return home when her contract expires to be closer to family.

If that happens, it will be similar to what occurred with fellow former NXT women's champion Kairi Sane, who left WWE in 2020 to return home.

Sane initially couldn't wrestle elsewhere since she was still under contract with WWE, but when her deal ran out this year, she returned to Japanese female wrestling promotion Stardom.

Meltzer noted that while Stardom doesn't view it as a guarantee that Shirai will return, Io will be free to do so when her WWE contract expires if she so chooses.

The Joshi Judas has not wrestled in a match since NXT Stand & Deliver in April when she competed in a Fatal 4-Way match for the NXT Women's Championship against Mandy Rose, Kay Lee Ray and Cora Jade.

Shirai reportedly suffered an injury, but the type of injury and the severity of it have never been divulged.

If Shirai does indeed let her contract expire to return to Japan, it is possible she has wrestled her final match for WWE.

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