John Cena has been on a quest since the Royal Rumble for a WrestleMania 34 match. Despite Cena’s status in the company, the storyline is that he keeps falling short. He didn’t win the Royal Rumble match. He didn’t win at Elimination Chamber to earn a title shot against Brock Lesnar, and then on Sunday night at Fastlane he fell short in a six-pack challenge for the WWE Championship.
Last week on Monday Night Raw, Cena realized he didn’t need to win a match to “earn” at match on WWE’s biggest stage. Cena challenged the Undertaker to a match at WrestleMania 34 in New Orleans next month.
This week on Monday Night Raw, Cena called out Undertaker but got no response. Channeling a heelish character, Cena called Undertaker a “coward” for not answering his challenge. He told Undertaker, during an in-ring promo, that he deserved the respect to get an answer, yes or no, and so did the WWE fans.
In a lot of ways, Cena’s message about Undertaker not showing up mirrored the storyline between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar, where Reigns has criticized Lesnar for being “a part-time champion.”
The segment ended when Undertaker’s storyline brother, Kane, hit the ring and chokeslammed Cena, leaving him laying. Michael Cole then speculated if Kane would face Cena at WrestleMania instead of Undertaker.
Undertaker has made sporadic appearances for WWE in the past year, including a promo at Raw 25 in January, but he hasn’t wrestled since losing to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 33 last year in Orlando. After that match, Undertaker took off his gloves, hat, and coat and left them in the ring. It was a subtle message, perhaps, that Undertaker was riding off into the sunset and retiring at the age of 51 years old.
Now 52, Undertaker has to answer Cena’s challenge. But, this is pro wrestling, Cena wouldn’t have laid out the challenge if he didn’t already know the answer.
Cena vs. Undertaker will be considered a dream match. They’ve wrestled in the past, but much of Cena’s run on top was on Raw, and Undertaker was almost always a SmackDown superstar in the original brand split.
Cena is part-time at this point in his career, with a budding Hollywood career taking off — he’ll co-star in the upcoming comedy Blockers next month, his biggest role to date — but he’s also lived up to his word, continuing to give WWE fans a look a few times per year. Cena was critical of The Rock for never appearing for WWE during the takeoff of his Hollywood career.
Even so, it’s disingenuous to believe Cena really couldn’t just demand any match he wanted at WrestleMania. The only question is whether or not another loss would truly allow Undertaker to retire. Fans weren’t happy with the idea that Roman Reigns had been the one to finally put Undertaker in the ground. Would they be any happier with Cena? And can Cena’s streak of losses continue?
We expect the Undertaker will answer Cena’s challenge soon enough.