John Cena was added to the WWE Title match at Fastlanein two weeks with his win over WWE Champion AJ Styles on Tuesday night’s episode of SmackDown Live,but perhaps the bigger news regarding Cena was happening backstage, if you believe a report from Sports Illustrated that Rey Mysterio was meeting with WWE officials about a possible WrestleManiamatch against Cena in New Orleans this April.
Mysterio made his WWE return at the Royal Rumblelast month, but it was said to be a one-off appearance. At the same time, SI itself reported last August that WWE did not want Mysterio back as a full-time wrestler, and cited sources who said Vince McMahon didn’t like dealing with Konnan and his representatives regarding Mysterio.
Also, Mysterio is set to face Jushin Liger for New Japan Pro Wrestling on March 25, just two weeks before WrestleManiaat the company’s Strong Style Evolvedshow, which is set to take place in Long Beach, California.
Cena was added to the WWE Title match for Fastlane after he picked up a clean victory over Styles on SmackDown last night. The story with Cena up to this point is that he’s been searching for a big WrestleMania match, but has been unable to earn one. He did not win the Royal Rumble match and he was eliminated by Braun Strowman at the WWE Elimination Chamber show this past Sunday.
Monday night during Raw, it was announced that Cena would head to SmackDown to face Styles, with the opportunity to earn a spot in the WWE Title match at Fastlane on the line. Meanwhile, the reason for Cena being given opportunity after opportunity, while not being a full-time competitor and losing at every turn, hasn’t been explained, but that’s typical WWE booking. Cena has legacy value to his character at this point, but with the losses piling up, in a realistic setting, it would make you wonder why he keeps being given these opportunities.
Baron Corbin beat Sami Zayn
Dolph Ziggler ran in for an attack after the match, which was a good touch. Ziggler has a lot more heat behind his character than Cena does right now, and I don’t think anyone would have guessed that when Ziggler mysteriously vanished from the show only a few weeks ago. The match itself was OK and it was fiiled with so much other stuff around it — interview cut-ins, etc. — that it distracted from what was going on in the ring.
Ruby Riott beat Naomi
I think I liked this match more than most people. They absolutely need to do more character development with her, but I find Ruby so different than the other women on the roster, she’s interesting to me. She needs a new finisher, because the Riott Kick is weak, but there is a definite future with her as a character if they ever decide to put some development and backstory to her.
Shinsuke Nakamura beat Aiden English
Ugh, here we go. Aiden English, of all people, was booked in a competitive one-on-one match against Shinsuke Nakamura, the man who won the Royal Rumble and is going to headline WrestleMania against AJ Styles.
Nakamura needs dominating wins right now, especially over wrestlers at the level of Aiden English. They’re not in the same ballpark, let alone the same league, and English this match was laid out to make English look as strong as Nakamura. Nakamura was selling way too much in a match against Aiden English. This should have been a 3-4 minute, dominating victory for Nakamura, even with Rusev running interference at ringside.
WWE blew a lot of stock with Nakamura last summer. They need him to feel like the King of Strongstyle again before the match with Styles at WrestleMania, and this match did not do anything to get him back to that point.
John Cena beat WWE Champion AJ Styles in a non-title match; Cena will be added to the Fastlane main event
Giving Cena the win clean was interesting, because they had Kevin Owens, Zayn, Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler all do a run-in after the match was over for a big brawl. You could have easily had a heel distract or attack Styles and Cena unknowingly take advantage. But a clean win for Cena suggests that Styles will get a clean win over Cena at the pay-per-view to “get the win back.” I just think they should have done a better job to protect their champion; heck, it feels like they did more to protect Aiden English than the WWE Champion on this show, even if Styles was losing to someone the caliber of Cena.
Show Score: 6/10
This was a decent episode. I’m not sure anyone remembers anything that happened here in two weeks, though. So was it a good enough build for Fastlane in two weeks?