Superstars' choice words on Cena-Lashley
John Cena doesn't defend the WWE Championship against Bobby Lashley until The Great American Bash one week from this Sunday, but it's already being hailed as a "dream match." As for predicting who will win…well, that's been more of a nightmare, one that has sparked furious forecasting not only among our fans, but within the locker rooms of Raw, SmackDown and ECW.
"If this were a Triple Threat Match, Johnny Nitro would be the winner, obviously," declared the current ECW World Champion. "But since that's not the case, I think I'll give the edge to Lashley. It's always easier to retain a championship than win it fresh, but I think Lashley is a real up-and-comer. He has a real solid wrestling background, having been an Armed Forces Champion, and he's got a lot of momentum [going into the match]. I don't think anyone in this company can beat him…except me."
It's almost appropriate that Nitro's Great American Bash challenger for the ECW World Title, CM Punk, predicts a different outcome for the WWE Title Match. "It's going to come down to who wants it more," asserted the Straightedge Superstar, who was taping up his hands inside the ECW locker room. "Lashley has been the ECW World Champion, he has competed on SmackDown and now he's on Raw, which is a stacked show with a lot of talented guys. Yet not a single one of those talented guys has been able to knock John Cena off his pedestal. Cena doesn't get the credit he deserves; he's the epitome of everything that wrestling's about. He's Rocky Balboa—you can knock him down, but he'll come right back and fight you until he wins."
SmackDown Superstar Matt Hardy, who's squaring off against Montel Vontavious Porter for the United States Championship at The Great American Bash, shares Punk's perspective regarding the WWE Champion. "I see a lot of myself in John Cena. He may not be considered the most gifted athlete, but he's someone who really works hard for everything he gets. I think he'll do whatever it takes to beat Bobby Lashley and retain his championship."
Both Punk and Hardy offer very compelling points; throughout three WWE Title reigns, Cena has been labeled a match "underdog" more often than that of "heavy favorite." Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Edge, JBL, Umaga, The Great Khali…his list of ring adversaries is a veritable Who's Who in WWE Superstardom. Yet regardless of the seemingly insurmountable odds, one constant has persevered: The Champ is Cena.
Then again, Lashley has proven every bit as intractable as his Great American Bash rival. The two-time ECW World Champion didn't lose his second title in any ring contest, or to any kind of competitor; he was stripped of the championship after being drafted from ECW to Raw last June. While such a disheartening incident might have broken most people, it has made Lashley positively hell-bent on proving that he is still a champion, even if it means taking away Cena's title.
Sadly, even while figurative forests of WWE fandom earnestly await Cena-Lashley a week from Sunday, bad apples like Carlito fall far from the trees of enthusiasm.
"Everybody's calling this a ‘dream match,' but I don't know why," said Raw's cocky Caribbean, who wouldn't even break his stride down an arena hallway while speaking with WWE.com. "Both of them don't deserve the championship. I really don't care who wins. I think they both suck, they're both terrible. In the end, everybody loses—the fans, those two and Carlito."
WWE.com expected an equally apathetic opinion from Randy Orton moments after bumping into him in that same hallway. So imagine how metaphorically floored we were when Raw's destroyer of WWE Legends -- who was brandishing a bull rope, leading one to surmise that he was somehow preparing for his Texas Bull Rope Match with Dusty Rhodes at the upcoming pay-per-view -- optimistically stated, "I hope Cena beats Lashley at The Great American Bash, I really do." Such wishful thinking, however, only fronted Orton's more selfish motive, which he shared by pulling our digital voice recorder up close and adding, "Then I can beat Cena and prove to everybody that I'm the better man."
Though he's often distinguished by his stuck-up nose and snobbish demeanor, even William Regal knows when to acknowledge his fellow Superstars' abilities and accomplishments. "I have yet to meet a man in my 24 years of professional wrestling who has impressed me more than Bobby Lashley for just raw power," claimed Raw's usually abrasive Brit. "The closest one I've seen to him is John Cena. Cena is an incredibly driven individual, a great student of our game. But Bobby Lashley is frighteningly powerful. I've fought since I was 15, took on everyone in carnivals, yet I've never felt as manhandled by anyone in my life as I have [by Lashley]. My prediction would have to be with him."
Based on the WWE Superstars' divided outlooks, not even a case of Magic 8-Balls will help us easily predict the outcome to John Cena-Bobby Lashley at The Great American Bash. In fact, if one opinion has best summed up the variables that formulate this competitive quandary, it's that of your teacher, Matt Striker.
"I've wrestled both Cena and Lashley, and I still have lingering effects from my encounters with them," said ECW's Extreme Educator. "Both of them are equal in strength, both of them are equal in skill…. Honestly? I don't know who to pick. [The Great American Bash] may be the turning point in the history of our great sport, when these two go at it. This is Ric Flair-Ricky ["The Dragon"] Steamboat. This is Flair-Harley Race. This is Jack Brisco-Dory Funk, Jr. for today. This is the stuff that legends are going to be made of."