John Cena made his shocking return to the WWE on Sunday night during the Money in the Bank pay-per-view in Fort Worth, Texas. Cena was last seen on WWE programming battling The Fiend in the cinematic Firefly Fun House Match back at WrestleMania 36 and hadn't actually competed in front of a live crowd since a January 2019 episode of Monday Night Raw. He arrived in the closing moments of the pay-per-view, interrupting Roman Reigns after his successful Universal Championship defense against Edge. Cena began motioning towards Reigns as the champ started to lift his championship, only for the F9 star to hit him with the "You Can't See Me" taunt and back away.
A match between Cena and Reigns at SummerSlam had been the big rumor going around the wrestling world for well over a month and resulted in both men getting asked about the other during interviews. Cena has been nothing but positive towards "The Tribal Chief" for months, praising him for the work he has accomplished in the past year while WWE was stuck running weekly shows in empty arenas.
"Roman is walking in his own steps, he follows in no one's footsteps," Cena told Bleacher Report in April. "This happens every time a marquee attraction has moved on. I went through it, everybody said it with Steve [Austin] and The Rock and I understand that. But Roman is crafting his own path, and I think it's very important to say that he's doing a great job. I feel this is the best he's ever been and that comes with comfort. I don't know what got him over that hill, but he's over it and that's a very important one to jump over."
"I also think that this time without an audience has allowed performers like let's say Roman Reigns for example, to unobstructively mold his character," Cena told Chris Van Vliet last month. "If you send Roman Reigns from city to city to city, with paying audience after paying audience, there may be some audiences that don't even care what he wants or has to say. They just want to boo him, or cheer him, or whatever. Without that, especially when developing a character, when trying to get the message across, when trying to hand someone your business card. I think Roman Reigns has absolutely needed this time, and in it he has developed himself, his personality - found out who he is. So now when he goes back to live audiences, they're not confused. He's spent this 15-month block defining who he is and he's the one that can benefit from this."
Reigns, meanwhile, issued threats towards Cena whenever the subject was brought up. On the same week Cena's interview with Van Vliet dropped, Reigns told the ACC Network, "If John wants to get smashed, then he knows where I'm at, when it comes to whooping people's ass, I do not discriminate. Luchadores, mat wrestlers, legends, Hollywood superstars, anybody. Anybody can get it."