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The stakes have never been as great as they will be at SummerSlam when WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins faces United States Champion John Cena. The winner takes all, and for the first time in WWE history, one Superstar will control both titles.
Amid speculation that the Cenation leader would not be cleared to compete at The Biggest Party of the Summer, Cena accepted (with Daniel Bryan's support) Rollins’ challenge during an appearance on the Aug. 11 edition of WWE Tough Enough.
The U.S. Champion severely broke his nose while competing against Rollins in a July 27 U.S. Open Challenge on Raw. With his title on the line but not Rollins’, the double-tough Cenation leader trumped the WWE World Heavyweight Champion in that match, even after The Architect drove his knee into Cena’s face, breaking his nose and leaving it angled sharply sideways. The injury forced Cena to undergo emergency surgery days later and miss the subsequent weeks’ Raws.
Retribution for a crooked nose and time on the shelf won’t be Cena’s only motivation come Sunday, Aug. 23; Rollins has also continually disparaged the Cenation leader since their match on Raw.
Moreover, a win at SummerSlam would mean Cena’s 16th World Title, tying him with WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair for the most World Championship reigns. A loss, however, would signify the end of Cena’s U.S. Championship run. Since dethroning Rusev for the stars-and-stripes title at WrestleMania 31, Cena has welcomed all challengers, and, in doing so, has elevated the already prestigious championship, bringing it almost on par with the WWE World Heavyweight Title.
Not just eager to even the score against Cena, Rollins has stated it is his goal to add hardware — the U.S. Title — to his collection. The Architect is also likely determined to prove he is not a lame-duck champion, as some of his critics suggest. Rollins has repeatedly benefited from outside interference during his title reign, allowing him to retain the championship against the likes of Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton. A win over WWE’s top thoroughbred in the venerable Cena would go a long way toward silencing the doubters.
Which Superstar will leave SummerSlam and Brooklyn as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and the United States Champion? Will Cena — arguably WWE’s most reliable big-match performer — make history with another World Title win? Or will Rollins finish what he started on Raw and finally prove himself superior to WWE’s tireless workhorse?