Over a substantial portion of the last twenty years, two men have reigned over their respective promotions. Samoa Joe was a prominent star as he rose up through the ranks in Ring of Honor; while he was there he faced such names as Bryan Danielson, Nigel McGuiness, and CM Punk. He then moved on to compete in Total Nonstop Action, and while there he faced the likes of Kurt Angle and AJ Styles. In each of those promotions he was a perennial champion, and also had record undefeated streaks in both.
Over the more than 15 years he has been in WWE, John Cena has been the franchise talent, and has showcased his will and strength against the likes of Shawn Michaels, Edge, Randy Orton, and Triple H. He has seemingly won everything there is to win while competing at the highest level. Both men are multiple time champions and have competed all over the world. Their matches have resulted in their gaining not only wins and losses, but admiration and respect from those watching. After everything that these two men have achieved in their careers, the question remains what is still there for the two of them to achieve?
For Cena, his goals in wrestling may not be what they once were. Fans will recall that his symbolic losses to Roman Reigns and others. That loss to Reigns in particular seemingly represented a passing of the torch. He has competed since that loss, but his current goals with the company don’t seem to match their needs for him.
On the other hand, Joe’s journey to WWE was much different. He earned a name and reputation competing for companies such as Ring of Honor and TNA/Impact Wrestling. Since coming to WWE, he only captured his first championship last night on Smackdown Live when he won the US Title, despite being consistently seen as a threat in any match in which he’s involved. Still, his professional goals and accomplishments should not be overshadowed by Cena’s achievements.
When assessing both men’s journey to the top it is important to identify where they both came from. Many years ago Cena and Joe were part of the UWF, a small promotion where they cut their teeth. While there they competed against one another, though few would have made much of two men in the earlier days of their careers in the early 2000s. As the years passed, their connection to one another was reflected in slogans or sayings from time to time. Cena would state that ‘The Champ is here,’ and fans would make mention of how Joe would refer to himself as the champ as well. Whether it was done out of respect for the other or not, a seed was being planted early on for a ‘fantasy match’ between the two. The reason it would be considered a fantasy was that they couldn’t have been further away from each another at the time. They were in different promotions and a match did not seem likely for the foreseeable future.
As the years passed the idea of the two facing each began to fade more and more. They were firmly entrenched in their respective promotions as champions and valued highly by their respective management. However, in 2015, after it was announced that Samoa Joe had left TNA/Impact Wrestling, fans of the company were shocked. Joe was a mainstay there, having been around for nearly a decade. He was a contender even before he stepped into the ring with the champion because he was Samoa F’N Joe. Not long after he appeared on WWE’s NXT brand, which led to fans speculating that this could eventually move on to either Raw or Smackdown Live.
As for Cena, he wasn’t competing as much as he had in the past. Every match he did have, though, was significant and contributed something of value to whoever he stepped into the ring with. However, his time in the ring was being replaced with other projects in film and television. He was moving into another phase of his life and career. As he approached 40, he was preparing himself for the next stage.
However, much like fans wished to one day see Sting face The Undertaker, Joe versus Cena was another scenario they wanted to happen. Joe is capable of producing compelling and riveting promos that incite anger from his opposition and leave viewers in awe of what he is saying. For Cena, fans have seen him run the gamut of promos, going from ones that are goofy and filled with silly, child-like jokes, to ones that are quite pointed and seem to break the fourth wall. Look no farther than his feuds with The Miz and Roman Reigns in recent years if you want to see just how compelling Cena’s promos can be. While we aren’t saying that it won’t or can’t happen, the likelihood of something happening between these two world famous talents at this stage appears to be fading. Cena’s appearances seem to be more one-off matchups against the best that the company has to offer, while Joe is amongst those perpetually in contention for the WWE Championship on Smackdown Live. Both men couldn’t be further from one another in terms of booking if the company tried.
However, if a feud between these two men was to take place, how exactly would this feud be booked? There doesn’t have to be a title at stake although there could be one now that Joe is the US Champion. Cena has stepped away from WWE to continue to pursue acting while Joe continues to contend on either Smackdown Live or Raw. One impetus for a program is something as simple as professional jealousy. There could be actual elements of this feud steeped in truth; fans may or may not recall that at one time Samoa Joe tried out for WWE a number of years ago. A number of reports surfaced that WWE agents tried to convince Vince McMahon to sign Joe, but the belief was that his ‘body type’ wasn’t what McMahon wanted. Whether that is the truth or not isn’t the point; instead, this speculation could be used as part of a storyline with Joe and Cena. To see Cena would be to see what Vince looks for in his talent: big and chiseled like a Greek God. Joe clearly doesn’t resemble that.
Since Cena has nothing to prove other than capturing his record-breaking 17th World Championship, could Joe be the factor that prevents him from doing so? Why would Joe be jealous? Perhaps he would argue that John Cena took his opportunity away from him? That’s because he looks the way that he does that he’s had everything handed to him, while Joe has had to scratch and claw for everything he’s achieved. It would certainly play into the resentment of some fans that Cena always comes out on top. Cena could fire back at Joe calling him a whiner and that he had worked just as hard to achieve the success that came his way.
Former WWE personalities such as Jim Ross and Mick Foley, along with Vince McMahon, could play a role in this feud. Joe could take his frustration out on McMahon much as he did on Paul Heyman when he challenged Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal Championship. There are layers to this feud, and it could put to rest who is better if done right. In Cena’s matches against AJ Styles, it was ‘The Phenomenal One’ that prevailed over Cena on more than one occasion, though Cena also had a victory over Styles. If something was to take place between these two it can’t be a case of one and done. It would be a match that is years in the making, they would need time to engage in a discourse over who is right, and who is wrong.
Fans are aware of the depths to which Joe will stoop in order to get his point across. In his feud with AJ Styles, Joe took their rivalry to a more personal level that was at times uncomfortable to watch. Joe seems very willing to embrace that uncomfortable quality, which could make the build to this match all the more interesting. Could you imagine what Joe would do to the owner of the gym that Cena trains at, or the gym itself if it is something that Cena values? While the years have passed and can never be replaced, Joe’s intent could be to prevent Cena from making a living in the future. It would be a case of ‘You cost me my past, so I’ll cost you your future.’
Then again, speculation and fantasy booking this match and feud could all be for naught, and everything that could happen won’t happen. Is there money still to be made here? Will fans want to see it now as much as they did before? Unless you, the fan, can voice your desire to see this and have your voice be heard, this will just be a case of the greatest feud that may never be.
(Editor’s Note: There are now rumors that Joe may face Cena at WrestleMania, but they are merely rumors for now.)
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