Every WWE fan knows that there's nothing more American than baseball, mom's apple pie and John Cena cutting a promo.
The WWE flagbearer has done just that over the past few weeks, as he's taking Old Glory into war against Rusev at Sunday's Battleground event. The two men have feuded before of course, with Cena usually coming out on top.
But this storyline may lead Cena directly to WWE champion Jinder Mahal.
Cena has always been a patriotic guy, and that has played into his character for years. Tribute to the Troops has been a great showcase for him, as the American military has accepted Cena as one of their own. The pride he shows in his country and the fighting heart he possesses is synonymous with the red, white and blue.
However it's perhaps never been more evident than it is now.
Cena came back to the company on July 4. His Battleground bout with Rusev is a flag match, and Rusev is a foreign threat that has no problem criticizing the United States every time he opens his mouth. The angle is custom made for Cena to get over, but it's likely much more than that.
Cena's Captain America radar is at an all-time high, and the next blip on his screen is probably The Modern Day Maharaja.
It's only a matter of time until the two men cross paths, especially if Mahal retains the WWE Championship against Randy Orton at Battleground. The Viper has yet to really gain any momentum against the champ, and now he's going into the Punjabi Prison, which may favor Mahal.
The chances of Orton continuing with Mahal after Battleground are likely slim, so the title will need a new challenger. Considering Cena is one win away from breaking Ric Flair's record of 16 championships, there is perhaps no better opponent for Mahal.
Fans may be weary of the classic American babyface versus foreign heel storyline, but there's no denying how effective it can be in this situation.
Cena plays the role perfectly because he lives it. When he talks about his love for the United States, it's genuine. Despite how many fans still hate him, it's hard to side against him when he's in top patriotic form. The gimmick works for him, and it really always has.
The same is true for Mahal, but with a twist of course. Mahal is a mean-spirited, shady, snarling heel that thinks he's above everyone in the USA. He believes Americans are prejudice against him, but he spews forth that hate himself. He's the villain that doesn't understand why America is the greatest country on earth; it's Cena's job to prove that to him.
It's at this point that many are likely not very happy with Cena's probable ascension back to the WWE Championship. Tying Flair's record was one thing. Breaking it is something else altogether. Then there's the fact that if he's back on top, what was the point of going part time in the first place?
Would Cena be booked like Brock Lesnar, appearing on TV just once a month, if that often? Would he only come back to defend the belt on pay-per-view, then he's gone again?
Would Cena be comfortable with putting that sort of stranglehold on the industry's top title?
There's very little chance Cena would agree to that. It goes against his character, and that's not something WWE does with him. Cena's predictability might have bored fans over the years, but it's that consistency that won't allow him to betray who he is.
WWE is his home, and he would surely not want to take the title and run.
So if he is indeed headed back to the WWE Championship, he will either win and defend—as he always has—or he will lose to Mahal. While some still believe Mahal to be nothing more than a fill-in champion, there is no denying that the company has faith in him right now. He's not the best worker on the card, but he's getting better. He's not the best promo man in the locker room, but he's better than he was.
But does WWE have so much faith in him that he will actually beat Cena?
If that happens, then it would be a huge statement on WWE's part. Cena's part-time status dictates the time might be right for him to do the job to the younger champion, so anything is possible. However if he goes into the feud as the flag-waving patriot, then there may be little chance he loses.
The fact is Cena's on his game right now, and he's in his element. He's the all-American hero, and when he's in that mode, there's really no stopping him. He will notice Mahal eventually, and when he decides the champ needs to be addressed, he will do just that.
Cena's not done fighting the good fight, and Mahal will realize that soon enough.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Bleacher Report. His podcast, Tom Clark's Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, iHeart Radio, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online at boinkstudios.com