When NXT champion Kevin Owens shocked the world at Elimination Chamber by beating John Cena in dominant fashion, it was a sign of things to come.
The pair had traded excellent spots on Raw and the tension between the ‘next big thing’ and ‘face of the company’ was evident.
Even better, their chemistry in the ring was exceptional.
This all culminated in a second match at last weekend’s Money in the Bank which left the entire WWE Universe aghast at what they had seen.
The fight promised much in the build-up, but it delivered even more.
Innovative and brutal, the second bout was told superbly by both cast members, with a pace built out of tension before a number of surprise turns and near pinfalls lead to a final crescendo that will live long in the memory.
In this column’s preview and prediction to MITB, we said this one would end with a Cena win to set up a decisive match with both Owens’ NXT and Cena’s US titles on the line.
— WWE (@WWE) June 16, 2015
We are over the moon that this prediction was, ahem… on the money.
It leaves us with the prospect of one of the most mouth-watering unification bouts in WWE history, despite the relative stature of the titles and infancy of the rivalry.
The reason why Cena vs Owens has drawn such a fervours response is a number of factors that highlights the strong position that the WWE finds itself.
Firstly, creative has managed to tell an enthralling story between two of its wrestlers on the back of intense support both positive and negative towards the wrestlers.
Cena, long-time franchise favourite, is still jeered and cheered in equal measure at every stadium, while Owens has developed an ardent following through his NXT performances, even as a heel.
It is his no-nonsense, and at times cruel, persona that has seen him leave a trail of destruction in his wake, first through the proving ground and now the big stage.
— WWE (@WWE) June 16, 2015
In Cena he has also found the perfect man to help him step up the ladder.
Cena is a 15-time World Heavyweight champion, so when Owens cleanly beat him his win was given instant credibility.
Likewise, Cena’s victory in one of his finest in-ring displays (of which there are many) last weekend reasserted himself as a worthy champion and brought a few more naysayers back on his side.
Throw in two matches that have upstaged the last two PPV main events and a few never-before-seen moves and you’re clearly on to a winner.
If the last match was anything to go by, then we should all hope that this rivalry runs and runs.
It’s that time of year again when the WWE gets their biggest ladders out and dangles the promise of a championship match anytime, anywhere over the heads of its Superstars to the glee of millions around the world.
– WWE TLC: Cena flourishing in new role away from headline events
– RELIVE: WWE PAYBACK 2015
– WWE TLC: Post-Payback Raw show breathes life into every division
Last year’s winner Seth Rollins cashed in his opportunity on the grandest stage of all to make for a thrilling finale to this year’s WrestleMania and the rest of the locker room will be buoyed by 13 of the 15 previous winners of the match going on to claim a title.
Besides the titular bout, the WWE has an intriguing card for Money in the Bank and a lot to keep everyone interested. Here, TLC takes you through our predictions for this year’s PPV
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Ladder Match
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Dean Ambrose – ROLLINS WINS
It seems that Seth Rollins is the veritable sweetheart of the WWE right now and, although his legacy as champion thus far has been tainted by Authority interference, he doesn’t look like losing his title any time soon.
While Ambrose’s stock continues to rise considerably, a change in hands of the title seems most likely to wait until the return of Brock Lesnar or a platform being handed to Roman Reigns.
Expect The Authority to meddle in some way in this one, a shame considering Rollins needs a big, clean win to stake his claim as a genuine world champion.
Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus vs. Neville vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Kane vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton – REIGNS WINS
These multi-Superstar matches are a nightmare to call and this one has a number of genuinely deserving champions among its field.
— Ashley Ferguson (@anfb1991) June 9, 2015
Reigns has been superb over the last 12 months, while Sheamus and Neville go into the match with fine momentum and Ziggler has long been touted as a future champion. Kane and Kingston are the biggest outsiders but their contrasting styles will help make this a well-rounded bout.
Orton’s time away from the limelight means he is overdue a run at the title but he isn’t the kind of Superstar to carry around a briefcase for 12 months.
Sticking our neck on the line, we see Reigns winning and beginning a belting feud with Rollins ahead of Lesnar’s return to action.
WWE Intercontinental Championship
Ryback (c) vs. Big Show – RYBACK WINS
Having only just gained the title, it is good to see Ryback showcase his dominance in the ring, even if his mic work could do with a major overhaul.
The two will surely beat the hell out of each other but we can’t see anything other than a Ryback win with Show beginning to fade into the distance as a credible title holder.
WWE Tag Team Championship
The New Day (c) vs. Prime Time Players – NEW DAY WINS
WWE Tag team title match: The New Day (c) vs. Prime Time Players on Money In The Bank pic.twitter.com/cRf1OBg45k
— Jake Hollywood ッ (@1998Hollywood) June 4, 2015
While the Prime Time Players have impressed in recent weeks, it is hard to look past the revived New Day defending their titles this coming Monday (UAE time).
A time will come for New Day to lose their title but considering the momentum they have going into the PPV and the team in the midst of establishing their heel personas, now is not the time for the title to change hands.
WWE Divas Championship
Nikki Bella (c) vs. Paige – BELLA WINS
— Divas Confessions (@DivasConfession) June 9, 2015
Oh how TLC wishes we weren’t writing “BELLA WINS” at the end of this sub-heading.
Paige is by far the better wrestler and the WWE NXT roster is packed with superb female competitors begging for a chance to showcase their in-ring talents, but Nikki Bella will surely remain champion until she has the longest reign record under her belt.
That honour is currently with AJ Lee, the WWE’s throwaway devastating Diva who rattled the cage a little too much and must be erased from the history books. Luckily, Bella isn’t far from taking that mantle and Paige et al will surely be pushed to the fore in the next couple of months.
John Cena vs. Kevin Owens – CENA WINS
— Sachin (@IamSachin21) June 9, 2015
Possibly the fight of the night, this rivalry between Cena and Owens is shaping up very nicely.
Owens has been on the warpath and his clean win over Cena at Elimination Chamber sent a shockwave through the WWE like nothing in recent history.
With neither Cena’s US nor Owens’ NXT titles on the line, expect a belting affair that sets up a title match in the coming PPVs. An Owens win will further validate his claims and is likely, but we are predicting a Cena win that levels up the series 1-1 and provides the WWE an early opportunity to place the titles on the line in time for a deciding third match.