With his No. 1 contendership for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship hanging in the balance, John Cena came through at Sunday's Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view by defeating Seth Rollins in a Tables match.
Cena looked to have had the match won when he delivered an Attitude Adjustment off of the middle rope, sending Rollins through a table; however, the referee was on the floor and didn't see it happen. Joey Mercury and Jamie Noble then cleared out the remnants of the table, in effect destroying the evidence.
Shortly thereafter, the ref called for the bell after Cena and Rollins crashed through two tables while falling off the ring apron; however, since the two hit simultaneously, the match continued, per WWE:
After the restart, the Big Show interfered and was seconds away from hitting Cena with a chokeslam. Then, Roman Reigns returned, hit Show with the Superman Punch and speared him through a table set up in the corner:
From there, Reigns hit Rollins with a Superman Punch, which set up another Attitude Adjustment through a table, giving Cena the win:
WWE announced earlier in the night that Cena would face Brock Lesnar for the World Heavyweight Championship at the Royal Rumble if he beat Rollins:
Most expected Cena and Lesnar to have a rematch at the Royal Rumble, and now that the match is set, the company can go about building the storyline.
On the heels of Cena's squad defeating the Rollins-led Team Authority at Survivor Series, Cena and Mr. Money in the Bank branched off into an individual feud. Rollins was upset over Cena being responsible for The Authority losing power, but the stakes between them were ultimately raised by the Anonymous Raw General Manager.
After Cena refused to reinstate Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, the GM announced that the title shot Cena earned by beating Randy Orton at Hell in a Cell would be on the line at TLC.
Lesnar hasn't wrestled since losing to Cena via disqualification at Night of Champions, but the long-running assumption was that he would return to face Cena at Royal Rumble. That was put in doubt at TLC, but the No. 1 contender reigned supreme.
Cena has taken plenty of shots at The Beast Incarnate since dropping the title to him at SummerSlam, and that continued during the episode of Raw in which Cena vs. Rollins was originally announced, according to WWE Universe on Twitter:
Now that Cena has cemented his status as Lesnar's next challenger, the champ figures to return to WWE programming and seek revenge against Cena for his inflammatory comments over the past few months.
As for Rollins, Lesnar's impending return makes his status as the Money in the Bank holder significant again. The former Shield member attempted to cash in on Lesnar at Night of Champions, but he was foiled by Cena.
It remains to be seen if or when Rollins will ultimately decide to try his hand at cashing in again, but Lesnar being in the fold most definitely makes that wrinkle relevant once again.
That is a positive for Rollins and his fans, but it doesn't change the fact that he is the latest victim of Cena. WWE has a habit of having Cena defeat young, rising stars on pay-per-view, and TLC was another example of that.
The loss is particularly disconcerting when considering comments made by Rollins leading up to the match:
Rollins was alluding to comments made by Vince McMahon during a special podcast with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin on WWE Network. McMahon suggested that Cena is the only Superstar to truly reach the top since the Attitude Era, but Rollins clearly wants to change that.
Perhaps he is on track to do precisely that after putting on an excellent performance at TLC, but the booking didn't necessarily do him any favors.
With that said, Rollins has quickly developed into the top full-time heel on the roster, and he has all the tools necessary to be a megastar.
Many up-and-comers have been burned by the Cena effect in the past, but Rollins has a chance to reverse that trend moving forward.
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