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Why John Cena’s rumored WrestleMania 36 match is disappointing

John Cena returns to WWE television on the Feb. 28 episode of SmackDown. According to Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer, Cena will be at WrestleMania 36 on April 5 for a match, his first since January of last year. Meltzer believes the build to that match will start on television at the end of the month, although if he’s right about Cena’s opponent, it actually started at WrestleMania 35.

Yes, it’s rumored Cena will once again walk with Elias at the Showcase of the Immortals.

The idea of a Cena match at ‘Mania got fans thinking about the 16 time WWE World champ working with a legend like Goldberg (rumored to not be in the plans for Tampa at this time). Or revisiting his rivalry with Bray Wyatt.

Given possibilities like those, it’s pretty clear why Elias feels like a letdown.

WWE’s seemed on the verge of really pushing the guitar-playing character in the past, both in on-screen programs and with projects like concerts, digital albums, and Network specials. He’s gotten over as a heel and a babyface, but he remains a comedy mid-carder.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that! But if you’ve watched many WrestleManias in your lifetime, you know what happens when all-time greats return to work with anyone who isn’t already a main eventer. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, see 2016 in Arlington, Texas when Stone Cold, HBK & Mick Foley punked League of Nations AND Cena & The Rock dispatched The Wyatt Family.

Getting a couple months notice we’re going to get a longer version of what Cena did to Elias last spring doesn’t help.

It’s possible they could do something really interesting here. Elias is currently a babyface. John’s playing a villain in his next big flick, Fast & Furious 9. Rock proved years ago it’s not too hard to get crowds to jeer a Superstar who left WWE for greener pastures, and the gimmick Cena used at WrestleMania 35 was heel-ish for at least part of his run with it. Elias humbling an arrogant, Hollywood Doctor of Thuganomics would be a lot of fun, and signal a new phase of the singing Superstar’s career.

But I don’t see it happening. The other thing WWE did when Cena came back at last year’s WrestleMania was introduce him with a Babe Ruth-themed video proclaiming him the Greatest of All-Time. Even if Cena’s on-board with putting over a regular - and we have no reason to think he isn’t - Vince McMahon probably isn’t.

Hopefully, they’ll prove me wrong. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time. But I’ll be surprised if Cena vs. Elias turns out to be much more than an entertaining diversion.

Hey, during a five-plus hour event (not counting Kickoff), we’ll take an entertaining diversion or two. Just don’t sell it as anything other than that.