This week's Friday Night SmackDown had a John Cena reference subtly added in by the commentary team, potentially hinting at Cena's return to the ring for a long-rumored match. Back when Cena was celebrating 20 years in the WWE earlier this year, many fans believed there would be a set-up for a match between him and then-United States Champion Austin Theory for SummerSlam. And while the two did interact on an episode of Raw, Cena confirmed in his promo that he didn't know when he'd be competing in a WWE ring.
However, while Theory was in the ring for a singles (and eventually six-man tag) match, Michael Cole noted that "Mr. Money in the Bank" could use an "attitude adjustment." Fans were quick to pick up on Cole namedropping Cena's finisher.
If Cena doesn't compete in a match in these last three months of the year, it will end his 21-year streak of competing in at least one WWE match annually. However, there are plenty of rumors that Cena vs. Theory could be one of the matches booked for WrestleMania 39 next April in Los Angeles. Theory has talked about the match numerous times in various interviews.
"It kind of just blows my mind. It's so wild," Theory said in an interview with The New York Post earlier this year when talking about the advice Cena has provided him behind the scenes. "I don't want to say I didn't expect it because I've always had the motivation and the drive and the determination to be here. But to actually think like, 'Oh whoa, I can actually get some advice from John Cena' is just mind-blowing. When you think, who's your ultimate inspiration in life, whether it's a baseball player, a football player, a WWE superstar, and to finally meet them and be able to conversate with them about work and how to get better and get to that next level, it's wild," he added, talking about how it feels to be able to talk with one of his heroes.
Regarding a potential match, Theory added, "It just takes words out of my mouth, because I think when that moment happens and I'm in the ring with John Cena, man, I don't know what to say. I don't know what I'm gonna say. I don't know. I have no idea just because like you're saying and the way you spoke about it, I clearly know what it was like for me growing up watching John, just the story there and how much we'd actually have for a story. Man that's just so crazy to me. I see it happening for sure."