by BROCK KOLLER
With John Cena out of action, reportedly for months, and barring a SuperCena miraculous recovery by the end of March, questions upon questions are surrounding the landscape of WrestleMania 32.
In my opinion, the match was set - John Cena vs The Undertaker in Taker's last match in front of 100,000 at AT&T Stadium in the Deadman's home state.
The Undertaker and Cena haven't had too many run-ins besides (from what I recall) in the 2002-2004 era, a Raw match in 2006, and a 2007 tag match - which I feel was done on purpose. Keep them away from each other so when they finally do come face to face it will be that much more impactful. Same thing happened with Taker and Shawn Michaels. They kept the two away from each other for 10 years until they were the final two in the 2007 Royal Rumble and that planted the seeds for a feud later on.
I have been waiting for an Undertaker-John Cena match for years. Cena was the only obvious choice left for Taker to wrestle at Mania and especially if it was going to be his last match - the longest tenured superstar vs the face of the franchise.
The match should be happening.
But alas it looks because of a worst time possible injury (is there ever a best time possible?), Cena is out of the picture. This leaves Taker standing in the middle of the ring at the biggest event in WWE history alone.
Poor lonely Taker.
Cena was the obvious choice, the perfect choice, the most fulfilling choice – but the show (as it always does) must go on and there must be another choice, right? Taker can't be alone on WrestleMania- he just can't!
So with John Cena on the shelf, who can WWE turn to in their time of need to face the once undefeated WrestleMania stalwart? WWE Hall of Fame broadcaster Jim Ross recently blogged his choice - Luke Harper. I agree with JR that Harper is untapped talent and should be given room to grow. But facing the Undertaker at Mania is not the place for that. I am all for pushing fresh talent. I say it all the time. But Undertaker was poised to meet the face of the franchise - a veteran - he needs another veteran to take Cena's spot.
If you smell what I'm cooking.
The Rock is the only man who can stand toe to toe with The Undertaker - make it a believable threat - make it a main event match - make us forget that this was supposed to be John Cena.
Let's look at the rumored WrestleMania picture right now - Triple H vs Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar vs Kevin Owens. Taker already faced HHH and Lesnar to the extent they can no longer wrestle each other anymore - not a match more. Owens could be an intriguing choice against Taker but the anticipation is building for a Lesnar-KO brawl. And a Reigns vs Taker battle just doesn't make sense.
But wait! There's always (it’s gotta be) Kane!
Yes, true. If this indeed is the Phenom's last ride, a final match against his demon brother could be poetic. He's only wrestled Taker twice at Mania, three times isn't out of the question. And while some may say this would be a boring retread - there are ways to set it up to keep it interesting without veering into corny theatrics.
But that's not the best route. The best route is heading down Know Your Role Boulevard and making a left onto Jabroni Drive and booking a room at the Smackdown Hotel! It gets great Yelp reviews.
Fantasy booking time: The Rock can say he's done it all in the WWE, but he has never defeated the Undertaker at WrestleMania. The story of the Undertaker at Mania is now sports lore and the mainstream media will have an easy story to tell when writing up what The Rock is doing back at that big wrestling event this year. The Rock needs a focused match - one where the opponent makes sense, the goal is easy to understand for everyone, and the name recognition is there on both sides.
The Undertaker is to The Rock as The Rock is to The Undertaker. They are codependent on each other to make their WrestleMania 32 match worthy of each other.
They need one another for this event. If John Cena was not injured, who would The Rock have wrestled? Maybe a Batista? Or a Chris Jericho? Or an Alberto Del Rio, perhaps.
You could throw in a recently signed AJ Styles in either scenario - vs The Rock, vs The Undertaker - and it could work, but it's not the best solution.
Then there's Daniel Bryan. He really wants WWE to clear him and they just might in time for Mania, especially with all these injuries - from Seth Rollins to the recently announced future WWE Hall of Famer Sting. Bryan could be a great choice to face Taker, but he's still on the shelf as of this writing.
As for now, this scenario works best for both. The Scorpion King vs. The Prince of Darkness.
Honestly, I’m hoping for a super speedy recovery for John Cena and he makes a grand return on Raw the night after FastLane to challenge the Undertaker.
If not: Mr. Cena it will be difficult to replace you at WrestleMania, but the show must go on.