John Cena vs. AJ Styles
WWE isn’t lying when they call this a dream match. The AJ Styles vs. John Cena match tonight at Money in the Bank is just that. These are two men who have been wrestling for more than a decade, two men who have been at the top wherever they have gone. They’ve just never been at the same place at the same time. Now that they finally are, these two will finally clash in a match that was considered almost impossible just a year ago.
To understand how big this match is, let’s take a look at their past accomplishments:
- AJ Styles: 2 time NJPW champion. 5 time NWA/TNA championship, 6 time TNA X Division Champion. 1 time ROH Pure Wrestling Champion. (His Wikipedia section has a ton more smaller promotions which is honestly too much to list here.)
- John Cena: 15 time WWE champion/World Heavyweight Champion. 5 time United States Champion, 2 time Royal Rumble winner
AJ Styles made his name all over the world while John Cena did it one place. However, few would argue that the place John Cena did it is the biggest stage in wrestling today and that holds the most importance. But there’s no question that AJ Styles is one of the top wrestlers of the last decade and when the fans finally saw both men in the same ring at the same time, the atmosphere was absolutely electric. It was Raw this Memorial Day and fans chanted "Let’s go Cena!" "AJ Styles!" for minutes and they probably would have gone longer if both men continued to stay silent.
John Cena had just returned from an injury and was addressing the crowd for the first time. After he got some words out, AJ Styles took it upon himself to come out. At first, it looked like a sign of respect from Styles. But it didn’t stay that way as AJ revealed that he had reunited with his Bullet Club mates Anderson and Gallows from Japan and they took the boots to Cena.
The following week, Styles explained his actions. He knew the perceived rap on John Cena. New guys and guys coming into WWE after making their name in other promotions didn’t fare well against the Face Who Runs the Place. Sure, maybe they can eek out a win, but John Cena will get that win back and more leaving those men would worse off than before. The Phenomenal One even used the dreaded "buried" term.
Where there’s no evidence that John Cena is actively burying these guys, there’s no doubt that most of those who match up against John end up worse for the wear. Just look at these three examples, which outside Seth Rollins last summer, was his last three major feuds.
- Rusev: Prior to facing John Cena, he was the undefeated United States Champion. Despite winning his first match against John, he lost the following three, ending up 1-3 against Cena. Afterwards, he found himself in a love triangle with Lana, his manager/girlfriend who left him, and Dolph Ziggler.
- Kevin Owens: KO made his debut by laying out John Cena and even winning their first match clean as could be. He lost the next two, including submitting in the third. Since they, he found himself in the midcard, though out of these three men who recently faced John Cena, Owens has been doing the best for himself.
- Bray Wyatt: Bray Wyatt had also never been pinned before meeting John Cena at WrestleMania 30. Up to that point he and his followers had run roughshod over the WWE. Wyatt went 1-2 against Cena with his one win being a cage match win where Wyatt looked worse after his win than he did before. Since then, Wyatt has struggled to stay relevant, and despite some marquee losses to the Undertaker, never reaching the point hew as at prior to facing John Cena.
Whether these career trajectories actually had anything to do with the losses to Cena or other factors, AJ was not going to take the chance. He was not going to to face John Cena without an insurance policy and that insurance policy is his mates in the Club.
Styles has said multiple times that he would run circles around John Cena in the ring, keying on a long standing, but incorrect take that Cena can’t wrestle. That’s likely why AJ made the questionable choice to sign a contract that banned the Club from ringside that Cena baited him into last Monday. Why have an insurance policy if you can’t use it? AJ is either extremely confidence in his skills or he has a plan to work around the wording of the contract (which we don’t know).
No matter how they get there, tonight’s match up will be an epic encounter that most never thought we’d see. Both men have racked up a slew of achievements in their career. Given done in the biggest wrestling promotion in the world, Cena’s accolades are a bit more impressive, but Styles isn’t arguing that. His point is that if he were in WWE, Cena wouldn’t be the guy with those accomplishments. He would. Now tonight, after what promises to be an epic match, we’ll see if Styles can knock WWE’s standard bearer off and take his place.
Money in the Bank airs tonight on the WWE Network at 8 Eastern. Keep it hear at CagesideSeats.com for all your MITB coverage.