John Cena's 5 Most Realistic Opponents for Potential WWE WrestleMania 38 Match

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistFebruary 15, 2022

John Cena's 5 Most Realistic Opponents for Potential WWE WrestleMania 38 Match

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    John Cena hasn't had a formal match at WrestleMania in four years, but will WrestleMania 38 be when we see him in the ring next?
    John Cena hasn't had a formal match at WrestleMania in four years, but will WrestleMania 38 be when we see him in the ring next?Credit:

    Although he hasn't been a regular on WWE TV for the better part of the past five years, it just doesn't feel like WrestleMania season without John Cena.

    Big Match John was a 'Mania constant for over a decade and a half, having made his Show of Shows in-ring debut in 2004. From there, he competed in many marquee matches at the illustrious event against a plethora of top talent and walked away with gold on a handful of occasions.

    Not counting his Firefly Fun House affair with Bray Wyatt two years ago, his last formal WrestleMania match was with The Undertaker in 2018, and even that didn't last more than a few minutes. Before then, you'd have to go back to WrestleMania 33 when he teamed with Nikki Bella to take on The Miz and Maryse.

    In other words, the WWE Universe is overdue for a high-profile Cena matchup on The Grandest Stage of Them All. Of course, it's a lot easier said than done given how busy he's been in Hollywood in recent years, making his wrestling appearances much more sporadic.

    His last run with Roman Reigns over the summer was a success, and if his schedule were to allow it, a match at WrestleMania 38 against any of the following five opponents would be a welcome addition to the star-studded card.

Bobby Lashley

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    Cena and Bobby Lashley have hardly interacted on WWE TV since the latter's return to the company in 2018, but longtime fans will remember their bad blood from 15 years ago.

    It was at The Great American Bash 2007 that Lashley challenged Cena for the WWE Championship in the night's main event. While it was one of The All Mighty's best bouts at the time, it also ended up being one of his last with WWE before suffering an injury and leaving several months later.

    WWE has yet to revisit that rivalry, and there would be no better time to do so than at WrestleMania 38.

    Lashley is the current WWE champion, though it's not looking likely he'll leave Elimination Chamber with the title intact considering Brock Lesnar will be involved. Regardless, he needs a notable name to face at The Show of Shows this year and Cena fits the bill.

    Not only would Lashley want to avenge that loss from a decade and a half ago, but Cena's sights should also be set on becoming a record-setting 17-time world champion in WWE.

    Roman Reigns vs. Lensar is already a lock for the Universal Championship, but the WWE title picture could be wide open, and Cena makes as much sense as anyone to enter it.

Austin Theory

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    As far-fetched as it may sound, Austin Theory vs. Cena could be WrestleMania-worthy one day, if not as soon as this year.

    The 24-year-old is the future of WWE whether fans like it or not. He's shown outstanding potential in his first few months on Raw and has battled—and beaten—some of the best the red brand has to offer.

    That list includes AJ Styles, Finn Balor, Big E, Kevin Owens, Rey Mysterio and Jeff Hardy. Theory took all six of those former world champions to the limit and defeated a majority of them.

    Combine that with his upcoming involvement in the men's Elimination Chamber match, and it isn't difficult to see that the WWE higher-ups are high on him. He's made the most of every opportunity he's been given, and a WrestleMania match with Cena would be no exception.

    If Theory wants to continue testing himself against biggest WWE's most notable names, Cena fits the bill to perfection. His rise to superstardom strongly parallels The Champ's, and a 'Mania outing between the two at this point in his burgeoning career would cause his stock to skyrocket.

Drew McIntyre

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    For the many years Drew McIntyre and Cena have spent on and off WWE, it's surprising to realize they have yet to have a singles match of any kind against each other.

    The closest they came to colliding in recent years was during a pair of multi-man matches in January 2019 on Raw. In fact, the Scot was responsible (in storyline) for injuring Cena and taking him out of the men's Royal Rumble match that year.

    Cena didn't wrestle for another year after that, and upon his return to the ring, he transitioned into a feud with Bray Wyatt instead of targeting McIntyre, who at that time was only a few weeks away from beating Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 36.

    In Cena's absence from the company, McIntyre has become a major main event player and racked up wins over the likes of Lesnar, Goldberg and Randy Orton. The Scottish Warrior has talked over the last year about wanting to face The Cenation Leader.

    Based on what we've seen on SmackDown recently, McIntyre is presumably slated for a matchup at 'Mania with Happy Corbin, which is a significant step down from where he's been on the card the last two years.

    Cena vs. McIntyre would be a much better use of the Scot and ensure that the 16-time world champion is sharing the spotlight with a fresh face who is also on his level.

Sami Zayn

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    A case can be made for Sami Zayn doing the best work of his WWE career this past year, and with WWE recently re-signing him to a new deal, it's clear the company feels the same way.

    He'll have the opportunity to regain the Intercontinental Championship from Shinsuke Nakamura this Friday on SmackDown. If he wins, he should defend the title in a singles match on either night of WrestleMania 38 given how prominently he's been featured on the blue brand as of late.

    All signs point to Zayn resuming his rivalry with Jackass star Johnny Knoxville if their interactions online have been any indication. It's even possible they go one-on-one for the title, but Knoxville finding a surrogate in fellow famed actor Cena would be a much more appealing match.

    It feels random on paper, but the story can be that the Intercontinental Championship is the one title Cena has never held in WWE. It's also the last piece of hardware he needs to become a Triple Crown/Grand Slam champion in WWE.

    Zayn has history with Cena from when he accepted his U.S. Open Challenge seven years ago on Raw, and with the tables now turned, it would make for an entertaining undercard attraction at WrestleMania.

AJ Styles

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    The tremendous trilogy of matches Cena and AJ Styles had in 2016 and 2017 will be remembered by fans forever.

    Cena has had a handful of rivals who have brought the best out of him in the ring over the years, but the chemistry he shared with The Phenomenal One was special.

    Those three incredible encounters took place at Money in the Bank, SummerSlam and Royal Rumble, and a WrestleMania match was unfortunately not among them. Simply for old times' sake, WWE should consider having them face off again, this time on The Grandest Stage of Them All.

    It's not like Styles has anything else of importance going on at the moment. He's been involved in the United States Championship recently and will be challenging for the WWE Championship at Elimination Chamber, but there are no concrete plans in place for what he'll be doing at WrestleMania 38.

    Regardless of whether there is gold up for grabs, Styles and Cena running it back would no doubt be worthy of the WrestleMania billing. It'd be an exciting attraction for an event that could desperately use one and essentially sells itself with little additional build.

    One last installment in the Cena vs. Styles saga at WrestleMania can't be considered anything other than a positive for both men and the audience who'd pay good money to see it.


    Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.


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