The 15-time WWE Champion John Cena Monday night reminded us why he has been at the top of the WWE for the last decade: He's charismatic, memorable and knows how to promote a fight.
Cena will fight AJ Styles this Sunday at the WWE's Money in the Bank PPV, in a match that you would think, based on Cena's interview segment, that we were watching Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan.
Cena said that for 15 years the world has been waiting for Styles vs. Cena. Not really, John, but you tried so hard, we believe you. Cena has been THE GUY (not Roman Reigns) for the last decade and AJ Styles has been one of the best wrestlers in the world in TNA, Ring of Honor, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and other promotions.
Cena said that for 15 years "the decision-makers" (Vince McMahon and Triple H) would say that AJ Styles "doesn't belong here." Cena is right here to a point. AJ Styles is billed as being 5' 10" tall, but he looks smaller inside the ring. Styles is not a huge guy, but the recent success of wrestlers such as Daniel Brian, and even Eddie Guerrero before him, have shown that a great worker, even if he is in the small side, can draw money.
Cena called Styles "the greatest athlete to never be in the WWE." Great praise and a great way to promote a fight. The crowd totally got into the fight after Cena's promote, with loud, "AJ STYLES - LET's GO CENA" dueling chants. The thing about the WWE is that you can't really manufacture chants. The crowd does them or doesn't do them, and when they do them they are authentic (someone find me the view of the crowd shouting "Let's go Roman." Someone? Anyone?
The angle here is also that it's a contract signing and Cena has two contracts in the ring: one with Style's "Bullet Club" members in his corner, and one with them not in it. Styles took the mic and said that if he was in the WWE 15 years ago, Cena would never have been 15-time world champion. He said he wouldn't have ever won the Royal Rumble and he wouldn't have ever been in "crappy movies."
Cena gave it right back to him, and said that Styles carries himself like an entitled jerk (CM Punk alert).
"You walk out and whine and complain like every other Indy dude before you," Cena said.
That's a great insult coming from a guy who didn't have to toil for years building a name for $1,500 a show.
Notwithstanding that comment, Cena is far better on the microphone than The Rock because Cena has an incredible ability to put other wrestlers over, whereas The Rock continually puts himself over while burying his opponent. Cena made this match feel "real."
Styles eventually signed the contract without The Bullet Club present for the match, setting the stage for what will probably be the best match on the show. And it's not even a title fight. Why they don't put the title on Cena I will never know. He's their biggest draw. He's the most entertaining part of the show. He is bursting with talent and charisma. Instead they have the title on a guy named Roman Reigns, who has none of Cena's qualities. The WWE is clearly trying to build new stars, but Cena is still its biggest star.
In other Raw highlights:
- Kevin Owens is the funniest guy on the roster. And this week he got a ton of microphone time. Owens spent the episode bickering with Alberto Del Rio (who looks like he is continually sucking his guy in during interviews). Owens had several backstage segments. When Del Rio kept insulting Owens in Spanish, Owens said "what you think you are the only guy who can speak Spanish," and then Owens started speaking Spanish. Nice. Owens then took the microphone for the Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho Match. Owens wears a "Prize Fighter" shirt and looks like Roy Nelson's nephew. Owens has to be a future world champion because as funny as he is, he is a better worker and he's probably going to win the Money in the Bank ladder match spend the year chasing the title.
- Shane McMahon's fake tan is out of control.
- Apollo Crews reminds me of the Iceman King Parsons
- Roman Reigns has to drop that title. The New Orleans crowd booed him again and we are all tired of seeing him get booed. He needs to drop the title, turn heel and then he'll get over. Reigns will face Rollins at Money in the Bank. Here's what Reigns said on the microphone: "They aren't going to call me 'The Guy' because I am the champ. They are going to call me the guy because I beat you." Hey, Roman, the fans are never, EVER, going to call you THE GUY. Never.
- Now, it feels like he is champion simply to annoy us. His father Sika had more charisma.
- Seth Rollins was wearing a nice "Redesign. Rebuild. Reclaim" T-Shirt. Rollings, returning from a torn ACL, needs to turn babyface. The crowd loves him. He's a great worker. It's time for the double-turn at Money in the Bank. Rollins wins the title, Reigns brutally beats up Rollins afterward and everything is good in the WWE Universe.
- Dean Ambrose says he is going to win the Money in the Bank match and then cash it in that night against one of his old Shield buddies. No. Everyone says Ambrose is some great unnoticed star who is reminiscent of Rowdy Roddy Piper: No. If this were the 1980s, he'd be a jobber. In the words of Kevin Nash, "hit the weights, kid."
- Chris Jericho moves in slow motion. Hint: If you ever want to convince a skeptic to love professional wrestling, show them a Shawn Michaels match.
- If you ever want to convince someone that professional wrestling is choreographed, show them a Chris Jericho match post 2015(see video below). Jericho sucks more wind in between spots than Triple H. His matches are slow and methodical. His match with Dean Ambrose Monday night felt like Thanksgiving dinner, when you are full and you start playing with your mashed potatoes. Ambrose is the spoon and Jericho is the potatoes. Jericho should be touring the world in Fozzy, doing backstage interviews, or working as an NXT trainer. It really shows when he is in there with the young guys.
- Speaking of the main event, all six guys were out there to promote the match. Is the WWE forgetting there's a title fight on the show? Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens were guest commentators. Del Rio was guest timekeeper. Cesaro was guest ring announcer.
- Ambrose pinned Jericho in the main event with The Dirty Deeds. From there, all six guys started battling in the ring. All the guys did some spots and then Jericho out of nowhere returned from the did to climb the ladder and pull the briefcase down, in what was supposed to feel like a preview to Sunday's show. Yeah right.