Before he wound up reliving his greatest career failures inside Bray Wyatt's Firefly Fun House, there were reports that John Cena would be returning to action at WrestleMania 36 in order to face Elias. While that might not sound like the marquee match WWE would book for the 16-time former world champion, it actually makes a bit of sense. Elias famously interrupted Cena at WrestleMania 34 when he was preparing for a match with The Undertaker, then wound up having his concert interrupted by Cena (in full Doctor of Thuganomics gear) a year later at WrestleMania 35. Both encounters ended with Cena nailing "The Drifter" with an Attitude Adjustment.
Elias confirmed in a new interview with Sports Illustrated this week that a match between the two was originally scheduled for April's event, capping off a three-year storyline.
"New Orleans, I'm in the mix with John and the Undertaker," Elias said. "The next year, I'm in there with John and the Undertaker again--John at WrestleMania, the Undertaker the night next on Raw. I was supposed to go on and face the Undertaker at the show in Saudi Arabia. That never ended up happening because of Goldberg, but that was supposed to be my match.
"The year after was supposed to be myself against John Cena at WrestleMania in a three-year running story. Things obviously changed and that didn't end up happening," he added.
Cena wound up losing against Wyatt and hasn't been seen on WWE television since. He addressed what happened in a recent SI interview.
"I've had many experiences and many stories in WWE over my tenure there, and a lot of it has been embracing conflict and embracing the tale of good versus evil," Cena said. "This isn't the first time I've done something like this. For the viewing audience, it was the first time they'd seen a cinematic depiction of this, but this isn't the first time that we've seen a conflicted John Cena character. As with all the opportunities I get in WWE, I never try to be complacent and I always like to push the envelope. This was an instance where we could do just that, and I think we put forth a product that certainly got people's attention and got people talking."
"It left a lot of questions," he later added. "It wasn't just single-serving, it is something you can go back and watch and enjoy. Those are some of the best efforts."