John Cena Accepts The Fiend's WrestleMania 36 Challenge in SmackDown Return

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 29, 2020

BENTONVILLE, ARKANSAS - MAY 11: John Cena speaks at the FitOps panel at the 5th Annual Bentonville Film Festival  on May 11, 2019 in Bentonville, Arkansas. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Bentonville Film Festival)
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

John Cena returned to WWE programmingย on Friday's episode of SmackDownย for the first time since Raw Reunion in July when he had a rap battle with The Usos.

The night resulted in "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt challenging Cena to a match at WrestleMania 36, which will take place in Tampa Bay, Florida, on April 5:


'The Fiend' @WWEBrayWyatt never forgets... #SmackDown https://t.co/1heu7CAedE

Cena then tipped his cap in The Fiend's direction, accepting the challenge.


It's official. 'The Fiend' @WWEBrayWyatt will go one-on-one against @JohnCena at @WrestleMania! https://t.co/ApoOcAz72w

The 13-time WWE champion didn't enter Boston's TD Garden with the intention to fight at WrestleMania, however, saying that he had no plans to take part:


"This year's @WrestleMania should go on without @JohnCena." ๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ฑ #SmackDown https://t.co/PUFoQIpR2I

But that has changed.ย 

With Cena vs. The Fiend set to come to fruition, it will join a card that already includes four title matches, including a bout for the WWE Championship between champion Brock Lesnar and Royal Rumble winner Drew McIntyre.

Theย 42-year-oldย Cena has primarily been focused on his burgeoning Hollywood acting career with recent appearances in Blockers and Bumblebee and upcoming appearances in Fast & Furious 9 and The Suicide Squad.

Although Cena's dealings with WWE are few and far between now in comparison to even just a couple of years ago, the fact that he is a part-time Superstar makes it feel more special when he is part of the show.

Cenaย hasn'tย had a match for WWE since January, when he competed in a Fatal 4-Way match on Raw against Finn Balor, Baron Corbin and McIntyre.

There was some thought he would have an impromptu match at WrestleMania 35, and while he did appear on the show, he did a throwback to his Basic Thuganomics character and dissed Elias with a rap.

At this point in his career, Cena is brought back by WWE on occasion for nostalgic purposes, and it tends to lead to far better reactions since he is no longer overexposed like he was for much of his full-time tenure with the company.

Considering the fact that Cena is one of the biggest stars in WWE history on a level similar to Hulk Hogan, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and The Rock, he has found a good wheelhouse in terms of making the fans miss him before showing up on screen.

It is always a big deal when Cena makes his presence felt in WWE, and it inevitably leads to questions about whether he might come back for another program or match at WrestleMania.

There is no guarantee that will happen since Cena's acting schedule has become so full over the past couple of years, but with WWE bringing out the big guns on SmackDown since the move to Fox, it can't be ruled out that the company offered big money to the 16-time world champion in hopes of luring him back for an angle ahead of WrestleMania.

ย  ย ย 

Listen toย Ring Rust Radioย for all of the hot wrestling topics.ย ย 


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.