Best Opponents for John Cena If He Beats Roman Reigns at 2021 WWE SummerSlam
The smart bet for WWE SummerSlam 2021 is that Roman Reigns will retain the Universal Championship over John Cena. The Tribal Chief has had too much invested in him to drop the title quite yet, even though he's held it nearly a year.
Reigns is also a full-time member of the main roster, as opposed to The Cenation Leader's status as a part-timer brought in as a special attraction for one of the biggest events of the year.
However, stranger things have happened than the veteran upsetting the odds. After all, this is still John Cena we're talking about. He's a 16-time world champion for a reason and could well win his 17th on August 21.
If that did happen, let's discuss possible opponents who could be lined up to challenge The Champ following SummerSlam.
Outside of a follow-up against Reigns, the next logical challenger would have to be Finn Balor, who is still actively part of this storyline in his own right.
When Reigns turned down Cena's request for a match at SummerSlam, The Prince stepped up and issued his own challenge, which The Tribal Chief accepted. After some shenanigans with Baron Corbin during the contract signing, Cena found his way back into the match, bypassing Balor.
The Irishman is rightly upset that he didn't get the chance he was promised and will likely keep trying to get a shot at the universal title in the coming weeks.
A one-on-one match with Cena or a Triple Threat involving Reigns could be in the works for Extreme Rules on September 26, if not a future episode of SmackDown.
Sami Zayn tweeted that Cena was raving about his match with Balor at a live event in Fort Myers, Florida on Saturday. If that's true, the movie star is likely loving The Great Liberator's current work and wants to stand opposite him in the ring at some point during this current run.
They've worked well together in the past. Zayn answered an open challenge for the United States Championship in 2015, and they tore the house down despite the main roster debutant suffering an injury during his entrance.
Since then, Zayn has leveled up his promo skills by a considerable margin and would likely hold his own against Cena on the mic, which would make for a great feud to coincide with a high-quality match.
Edge is one of Cena's archenemies, with their rivalry dating back 15 years to New Year's Revolution in 2006 when The Rated-R Superstar cashed in the first Money in the Bank contract.
The Ultimate Opportunist took advantage of the beaten-down WWE champion who had just gone through the Elimination Chamber and was left vulnerable to an attack.
Since then, they've had countless matches of all types and gimmicks. It's a feud fans haven't forgotten about.
Since WWE is relying so heavily on Superstars of previous eras to be the big draws lately, it would make sense for Edge vs. Cena to be a headlining act.
Edge has also had his eyes on the Universal Championship since winning the men's Royal Rumble match in January. As one of the most decorated Superstars in WWE history, he knows the importance of carrying gold and would jump at any chance to challenge for the belt.
While Vince McMahon may not appear to be his biggest advocate, Cesaro has had the support of the WWE Universe for nearly a decade.
His quick foray into the world title hunt earlier this year wasn't enough. Fans want to see The Swiss Superman as a more regular contender and someone who could legitimately win the belt at some point.
Cena's well past the point in his career where he needs to be worried about his legacy, and he should be more focused on helping out others who could use a leg up.
This would clearly be less of a personal feud and more of an athletic rivalry between two Superstars who respect each other. Even if it were a one-shot match on SmackDown, it would likely be the best contest Cena would have in this run.
Adam Cole is working on an expired contract with an extension that will run out in a few weeks. After that, it's unknown whether he'll even still be in WWE.
If he did re-sign with the company, though, it's time for the former NXT champion to join the main roster and see what happens on Raw or SmackDown.
Assuming he were drafted to the blue brand, a feud with Cena would make Cole immediately. Standing opposite one of the biggest WWE stars of all time worked wonders for Kevin Owens and others when they made their main roster debuts and Cole would benefit just the same.
Cole is one of the best talkers and in-ring performers in the entire company. If Cena is seeking fresh opponents who could put on a great show, he should look no further than the former Undisputed Era leader.
Whether it be in short doses for SmackDown matches or major feuds headlining pay-per-views, there are plenty of Superstars who would make for interesting opponents for Cena. Those are the top picks, but that doesn't mean there aren't still others worth mentioning.
Cena has already crossed paths with Baron Corbin. A follow-up would be interesting, even if it's just for Cena to humiliate him even more.
A dream match against Samoa Joe has been teased for over a decade. Since Joe is currently in NXT, it's unlikely this will happen, but it should always at least be in the discussion.
Seth Rollins is the second-ranked heel on SmackDown behind Reigns. If Cena did win the title, The Messiah would most likely be his next opponent if the pecking order is followed.
Following the 2021 WWE draft, other challengers could be in contention, too.
In June, Drew McIntyre expressed his interest in a match against Cena in an interview with On Demand Entertainment (h/t Fightful).
Riddle has shared the ring with Cena on Raw already, and they seemed to get along rather well. Maybe there's something there to work with for a potential story.
Karrion Kross and Keith Lee are two juggernauts who fit the mold of Cena's archetypal opponent after a career of taking out the likes of Umaga, The Great Khali, Big Show and other giants.
Speaking of colossal Superstars, NXT UK's WALTER would provide a fascinating challenge for Cena. Nobody should hold their breath on that, though, considering how he rarely travels to the United States for matches.
Last, but not least, is Austin Theory. In many ways, he could be the next golden boy and follow in Cena's footsteps. He may not be ready to take the torch right now, but it could still be passed to him if The Champ agreed.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.