John Cena returned on Friday’s SmackDown with the intention of telling the world that he was going to skip WrestleMania 36 on April 5.
Then, Bray Wyatt appeared on the stage in his Fiend attire and pointed to the ‘Mania sign as a way to challenge Cena to a match at the pay-per-view. The 16-time champion tipped his cap to accept.
This will not be their first encounter on The Grandest Stage of Them All. They fought at the event in 2014, which saw Cena walk away with the victory.
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While this is technically a rematch, the veteran will be facing a very different man than the one he fought six years ago. The Fiend may as well be a brand-new opponent.
WWE did not give itself several months to build this feud and only has five more episodes of SmackDown between now and WrestleMania 36.
Let’s look at how the company should book this feud for the next five weeks.
WWE has confirmed a new episode of Firefly Fun House will air on Friday’s SmackDown, so this should be a Cena-free week.
Wyatt should have the show to himself so he can talk about his history with The Cenation Leader and why this time will turn out differently for both of them.
Their encounter at WrestleMania 30 was not their last time in the ring. The two men have fought many times over the years, so it gives Wyatt a lot to discuss.
A quick video package to highlight their history followed by a standard Firefly Fun House segment is the best way to begin this feud on Friday.
Since this will be a relatively short build for a ‘Mania match, there should be no contact yet.
The second week is where Cena should return to formally accept the challenge with more than a tip fo his hat. Once again, simple is best.
A promo recalling their previous encounters and talking about how dangerous Wyatt can be would allow Cena to do what he does best when hyping a match.
He can remind everyone how he was successful six years ago against Wyatt and why he thinks the same outcome will happen again.
He can even call Wyatt out for a fight during the promo but there should be no appearance from The Fiend. The second week should be all about Cena talking about why he will accept the match after saying he would skip this year’s show.
The third week is when the mind games need to start. This is where Wyatt shines and it should be the first time they interact after last Friday’s encounter.
The Fiend is different from the backwoods preacher Cena has battled before. This version of Wyatt is not afraid to invade homes.
Cena does not have kids and he probably does not want to bring his current girlfriend into storylines. The best place for Wyatt to get inside his head is his private gym.
The Leader of the Cenation has his own facility where he works out and it is likely treated as a second home since Cena spends so much time on his physique.
WWE could give a generic reason for being there like an interview. All it would take is for Cena to find out The Fiend has been visiting while he is away to creep him out.
Perhaps every weight could have a Fiend logo on it or Wyatt could replace his protein powder with a container of insects. There are a lot of simple ways to get under someone’s skin.
Week four would put them nine days out from WrestleMania 36. This is the week when Cena and Wyatt finally have another exchange, but it should remain through a screen.
Cena would go to the ring and call out The Fiend for invading his personal space the week before. Instead of getting the masked madman, Wyatt would appear in his usual Firefly Fun House garb.
All this would be is banter. Cena would give his usual rah-rah speech about being willing to fight anyone at any time and Wyatt could give his usual cryptic responses.
Ramblin’ Rabbit is probably a Cena fan so he would likely end up as another jar of jam by the end of this segment.
It would end with Wyatt telling his future opponent to be careful what he wished for and that he would see him soon.
The final SmackDown before WrestleMania is the only time they should come to blows before their big match the following Sunday at the WrestleMania 36 PPV.
Who comes out on top in this segment would depend on who WWE books to win at ‘Mania. If The Fiend is to be victorious, which is the more likely outcome, then Cena should get the better of him on SmackDown.
He may be an A-list actor these days but Cena has faced guys like The Fiend before. He knows all about mind games and manipulation.
When Wyatt goes to strike from the dark as he typically does, Cena should be ready to hit an Attitude Adjustment.
It will show how he is still at the top of his game before they meet in the ring at WrestleMania 36 and give fans hope that he could actually defeat The Fiend.
This whole storyline feels like a way for WWE to give Wyatt a huge victory without putting the title back on him, and there is nobody better to put him over than Cena.
The five-week plan laid out here is a classic buildup. As long as WWE keeps them apart until the SmackDown before ‘Mania, it will help build anticipation for their big showdown.
If they brawl every week between now and the match, nobody will care when they lock up for the first time.
WWE has a slam dunk with this bout as long as it keeps the storyline simple and allows Wyatt to be his usual creepy self every week.