John Cena wins his 16th world championship at the 2017 Royal Rumble.

Ever since it was reported that WWE has slotted John Cena into a "much bigger" WrestleMania 34 match than an opportunity at his 17th world championship, fans have been buzzing.

That's partly because the supercard's other presumptive main event, WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar's dethroning by company golden boy Roman Reigns, isn't much of a mystery. But fans have also been tantalized by the possibilities of Cena's WrestleMania 34 opponent because the report implies it can be one of only a rarefied few. 

It's also the first marquee WrestleMania match in a few years for Cena, and it finds WWE's former ace in an increasingly weirder position in the company.

He was just sort of dropped into the Survivor Series main event and didn't bother wearing Smackdown blue, instead opting for a look of goofy detachment as his team fought Raw for brand supremacy. He's been contently eating clean pins at a faster and faster rate to new stars Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles and Kevin Owens, as well as main event successors Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt. So it's funny that Reigns recently told Cena, "You're not as big a deal as you think you are." If anything, lately, it seems everyone in WWE thinks Cena is a big deal but Cena.

Still, I don't doubt Cena will bring the fire to his WrestleMania program, as he did on the microphone against Reigns. Not only will it be his biggest in years, provided the report is true, but it could even be Cena's last match at WWE's tentpole. His stock as an actor and a celebrity personality continues to rise, and after 20 painful years of wrestling, a clean break has to be tempting.

That would lend some poetry, and mainstream appeal, to a WrestleMania match against one of Cena's rumored opponents: Batista. Both graduated in the same developmental class at OVW, which would make the match a fitting bookend to Cena's career. But more importantly, Batista has himself left WWE and succeeded in Hollywood, though he's rumored to want to return to wrestle again.

The logistics of Batista fitting WWE into his schedule of "Guardians of the Galaxy" and other movies suggest he won't be Cena's WrestleMania opponent, though. Other names that would fit the bill can be ruled out just as swiftly: The Rock is even busier and has already faced Cena there twice, and Goldberg put a perfect bow on his career at WrestleMania 33 and is probably done for good.

That leaves really only one name, and by far the likeliest opponent for Cena at WrestleMania 34: The Undertaker.

Though leaving his hat and coat in the ring at last year's WrestleMania teased the legend's retirement, it's no sure thing. Not only did his match against Reigns underwhelm, but The Undertaker vs. John Cena hasn't happened in 15 years, which was before the former returned as "The Phenom" and the latter was made the company's franchise. And that's the kind of match Vince McMahon will do everything in his power not to leave on the table. It's been a rumored WrestleMania feature for years: At 32 before Cena got injured, and at 33 before Reigns got the nod instead.

So this might be McMahon's last chance to make the match, and if so, he'll surely grab it. The winner is hard to guess, given both men's longevity and imminent retirement, but it really doesn't matter. The quality is even more difficult to predict. Undertaker reportedly had major hip surgery in May, so who knows whether that rejuvenates him or slows him down even further. Meanwhile, Cena seems to be in as great a shape as ever, but aside from his classic against Styles at the Royal Rumble, his 2017 output was a few steps below his "big match John" usual.

Those may be question marks. But when WWE celebrates the 25th anniversary of Raw Jan. 22 and The Undertaker returns, it'll be no mystery: He's facing Cena at WrestleMania 34.

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Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or david.wilcox@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.



Features editor for The Citizen and auburnpub.com. I also cover local arts and culture, business, food and drink, and more.