At WWE Fastlane, WWE Champion AJ Styles was already set to put his title on the line against the The “Yep!” Movement, a rabid Lone Wolf and a Showoff who always has something to prove. But as of the Feb. 27 edition of SmackDown LIVE, you can add The Leader of The Cenation to that list, as John Cena has earned the right to be among those challenging The Phenomenal One on SmackDown LIVE’s final pay-per-view before WrestleMania.
After Styles scored a controversial victory over Owens & Zayn to deny them the chance to become co-WWE Champions in a Handicap Match at Royal Rumble, SmackDown LIVE General Manager Daniel Bryan placed the best friends in a match against each other to determine who would be next to challenge for the title. That match was gate-crashed by Styles himself, setting the stage for Bryan to schedule what was originally a WWE Championship Triple Threat Match for WWE Fastlane.
With friction still mounting between Bryan and Shane McMahon, however, the SmackDown LIVE Commissioner followed up by announcing that the winner of the following week’s showdown between Ziggler and Corbin would be added to the WWE Title Match.
After Owens and Zayn assaulted both competitors to prevent that match from getting started, McMahon established two singles matches to deal with the problem, pitting Corbin against Owens and Ziggler against Zayn. If either The Lone Wolf or The Showoff overcame their attackers, they would be added to the WWE Title Match at the March 11 pay-per-view. Corbin and Ziggler each emerged victorious, setting the stage for all-out anarchy.
And just when it seemed the match was set in stone, Cena used his free-agent status to cross over from Raw to SmackDown LIVE and ask for an opportunity to find his own personal Road to WrestleMania. That resulted in a main event showdown against AJ Styles, and the 16-World Champion triumphed and earned his chance to challenge for the WWE Title, potentially also paving a path to WrestleMania.
With Styles now facing overwhelming odds, tune in to see who leaves with the WWE Championship when WWE Fastlane streams live on the award-winning WWE Network, tonight at 8 ET/5 PT.