For a moment there, nobody would have blamed you if you’d forgotten about the ongoing rivalry between John Cena and AJ Styles. With new stories emerging over the last two weeks as the build towards SummerSlam officially got underway, Cena and Styles took somewhat of a backseat.
That changed on the latest episode of SmackDown Live, as Cena and Styles engaged in a promo that lit their disdain for each other ablaze once again. Though we are in an age where talent is oozing out of every nook and cranny in the WWE’s locker room, these two veterans still found a way to up the ante and bring emotion to their program that few can muster up organically.
Say what you want about John Cena and his time atop the WWE mountain over the last decade, but the fact remains that nobody can talk like the “face that runs the place” in today’s industry.
It merely took the rare use of a simple word like “love” to give his promo some much-appreciated edge, and he was able to utilize that to put his SummerSlam match back in the limelight with three weeks remaining before the event takes place. That’s a very impressive thing to do considering just how stacked the deck already is when it comes to SummerSlam.
Finn Bálor taking on Seth Rollins for the WWE Universal Championship, Dolph Ziggler striving to “show the world” in his match with Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, and Brock Lesnar returning to the WWE canvas as he takes on Randy Orton are all going to be candidates for Match of the Night, but they could easily be outshined by the rematch between two of the business’ finest athletes in “The Phenomenal One” and “The Champ.”
Events with a line-up such as this are few and far between, but the thing that puts John Cena vs. AJ Styles ahead of the curve is the fact that it’s an already established rivalry between two men who want nothing more than to get in the ring with one another. These men weren’t thrown together by fate or in pursuit of championship gold – there’s genuine animosity between the two characters, and the promo on SmackDown showcased that unconditionally.
Because although this may be leading up to a rematch, and we’re never going to see AJ Styles vs. John Cena for the first time ever, again, both of these guys are still owed a decisive finale to their matchup. They may be in the same building on Aug. 21, but being on separate brands all but ensures that The Club won’t be swaying the decision this time around.
After all, AJ Styles asked for this match of his own volition. You don’t see many heels emerge from a high stakes fight with their arm raised and then ask for a rematch, so it’s apparent that Styles wants to do this one alone. Which means, unfortunately for Anderson and Gallows, The Club will have to wait until the next interpromotional special for their chance to beat up John Cena once again.
The near-guarantee that we’re going to see a clean result between Cena and Styles, after years of wondering “what if?” as they blazed trails across two extraordinary careers, should be enough of a reason to tune into SummerSlam alone without even considering what the rest of the card looks like.
What’s more is that as SmackDown barely holds itself up against Raw, whichever brand puts on the finer match at SummerSlam could potentially see its ratings go up in the weeks following. You can be sure that both Cena and Styles are well aware of this, and will do everything in their ability to ensure that the WWE Universe’s favorite color is blue coming out of Brooklyn.
With that in mind, John Cena and AJ Styles may have secured its spot back on top as the hottest rivalry in the company, since they are going to be pulling out all the stops over the next two episodes of SmackDown in order to put as much of a spotlight on their match as possible.
There’s no telling how many special moments these veterans of the game are going to pull off on the journey into SummerSlam, but you can take it to the bank that after their spectacular promo this week, all eyes are going to be on John Cena and AJ Styles from here on out.