This week on SmackDown Live, Shinsuke Nakamura defeated John Cena in a number one contender match. This means that Nakamura, not Cena, will face Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam, which was a huge shock to a lot of fans around the world who were pretty convinced that Cena would win. So now that Cena isn’t going to be in this title match, what’s the plan for him at the August pay-per-view?
Well, we actually still don’t know whether Cena will be at SummerSlam at all. But if he is, it looks like he will likely face Baron Corbin. After all, immediately following SmackDown Live this week, there was a brief segment on the WWE Network in which Corbin attacked Shinsuke Nakamura with the Money in the Bank briefcase, only for John Cena to come to Nakamura’s defense and beat up Corbin, throwing him into the commentary table.
This segment with Corbin could have been the start of a feud, and if a feud is beginning on WWE programming in early August, it’s clearly leading to a match at SummerSlam. Another compelling piece of evidence that a Cena vs. Corbin feud is being set up is that on Tuesday night, the WWE app posted the wrong summary of SmackDown Live‘s events. This version states that Corbin interfered in the match and inadvertently helped Nakamura win. That would pretty perfectly set up a Cena vs. Corbin feud, and the fact that this was on the WWE app has led many to believe that this was the original plan and that an earlier draft of this post was accidentally published.
So if Cena is going to have a role in SummerSlam, a match with Corbin does make the most sense, especially if the company wants to further build up Corbin before a Money in the Bank cash-in. What remains to be seen, though, is whether Cena will even be at SummerSlam. After all, Cena was recently cast in Bumblebee, the upcoming Transformers spinoff film. Production on that movie recently began in California, according to The Hollywood Reporter, and based on the typical timeline of a Transformers movie, it will likely be in production for the next few months.
It’s not totally clear when John Cena will be needed on set. It’s possible that he’ll be free until after August 20th, but movie studios are often anxious about wrestlers performing before big shoots out of fear they will be injured and that this will hold up production. That possibility became very real last night, when a key spot was botched during Cena’s match with Nakamura. This could have easily caused severe damage to Cena’s neck, which would likely force Bumblebee to delay production. That’s a terrifying prospect for Paramount Pictures, and so it would not be surprising if Cena does not end up competing at SummerSlam, either because he’s busy filming the movie or because he can’t risk getting injured before he’s needed on set.
Whenever Cena does leave to film Bumblebee, he’ll likely be out for most of the rest of 2017. However, he should be back in time for the road to WrestleMania 34, and the current rumor is that Cena will face off against Roman Reigns in the main event of that show, hence why he returned as a “free agent” last month.