The road to WWE SummerSlam is hotting up, especially for John Cena and Finn Balor. Both superstars have challenged Universal Champion Roman Reigns and will make up SmackDown's world title picture heading into the event.
Last Friday on SmackDown, Reigns rejected Cena's challenge for a Universal Title match at The Biggest Event of the Summer. He was then confronted by Balor, whose own challenge was accepted by The Tribal Chief. This was an unexpected twist, opening up a host of possibilities for the road to SummerSlam.
Finn Balor's inclusion in the feud between Roman Reigns and John Cena is intriguing, to say the least. But how big of a role will he play heading into the August supershow? It could range anywhere, from a momentary distraction to a starring role at SummerSlam.
Here are five ways WWE could book the Universal Championship picture between Roman Reigns, John Cena, and Finn Balor on the road to SummerSlam.
#5 WWE books Roman Reigns vs. John Cena vs. Finn Balor at SummerSlam
Despite the different responses to their respective challenges, both John Cena and Finn Balor could get a shot at the Universal Championship at SummerSlam.
Balor might be next in line to take on Roman Reigns, although WWE has not confirmed the match for either SmackDown or SummerSlam. If the Irishman's challenge was for the pay-per-view, expect Cena to get in the way of a singles match between him and Reigns.
The 16-time WWE World Champion likely wouldn't take too kindly to Finn Balor's challenge. He can use his supposed influence to make the Universal Title match a triple threat. It could be done to reduce the risk of a potential injury to John Cena, who has become quite a busy man in Hollywood.
He has returned to the ring recently, having wrestled in a couple of six-man tag team matches with Rey and Dominik Mysterio, against Roman Reigns and The Usos. Could his SummerSlam match also be multi-man?
Furthermore, if Balor is included in the heavily touted Reigns-Cena match, he will most likely take the pinfall. It would keep both megastars strong, no matter who wins. Perhaps, Cena could win his 17th world title at SummerSlam after pinning Balor, before dropping it back to Reigns at WWE's next pay-per-view.
#4 Roman Reigns accepts John Cena's challenge before he can face Finn Balor
Finn Balor's challenge was accepted, but John Cena may still get a WWE SummerSlam singles match against Roman Reigns. The Prince only stepped into the picture because the Universal Champion refused Cena's challenge. But what if this changes before the match between Reigns and Balor is made official?
All it would take is one passionate promo from the 16-time WWE World Champion, in which he riles up The Tribal Chief. If Roman Reigns ends up accepting John Cena's challenge, Finn Balor may have to wait for his title shot until after SummerSlam.
WWE may have inserted him into the main event scene just to tease a future title match between Balor and Reigns, while getting the fans excited for when it eventually happens. It would be the perfect post-SummerSlam feud for The Head of the Table, once he vanquishes Cena.
#3 John Cena and Finn Balor have a number one contender's match for WWE SummerSlam
Another way for John Cena to make his way to the main event of SummerSlam could come in the form of a big match on SmackDown. The Blue brand's ratings would further improve if it hosted Cena's first televised in-ring match in over 30 months.
He could face Finn Balor, with the winner going on to SummerSlam to face Roman Reigns. This seems like a natural solution to the complex situation involving both of them. The former NXT Champion would benefit greatly from going toe-to-toe with John Cena in 2021, even in a losing effort.
#2 Roman Reigns defeats Finn Balor on SmackDown and faces John Cena at WWE SummerSlam
As we just saw, John Cena can face Roman Reigns at WWE SummerSlam even after Finn Balor's challenge was accepted. There are a few creative ways of reaching that point in the story. Another possible way would see Reigns defending the Universal Championship against Balor before the pay-per-view.
The Tribal Chief could defeat him on SmackDown before Cena comes out and confronts him. However, this outcome isn't the greatest idea. Roman Reigns' feuds are usually built on long-term stories, so him taking care of Finn Balor in the coming weeks would waste a potentially compelling feud for him.
It would further build Reigns up before his big SummerSlam match with John Cena, though. The Prince should be used more than a quick diversion for a swerve.
#1 Finn Balor stuns Roman Reigns and wins the Universal Title before (or at) SummerSlam
If WWE wants to pull a major shocker this summer, none would be bigger than Finn Balor winning the Universal Championship. As mentioned above, he might get a shot at Roman Reigns on SmackDown before John Cena steps in again. But what if he wins the title? It would turn SummerSlam upside down.
Balor was the first-ever Universal Champion, but never got a proper reign with the belt. He had to vacate it due to injury, just one night after winning. This would present WWE the opportunity of pushing Balor to the moon once again, tying into the potential triple threat at SummerSlam.
Whether he walks into the match with the Universal Title or not, Finn Balor leaving SummerSlam with a win over John Cena and Roman Reigns would be a major statement from WWE. Perhaps, he could bring back 'The Demon' to defeat two of the company's biggest modern stars.