Cena and Rusev are actually feuding, although, I wouldn’t blame you if you had forgotten that. After all, the jealousy drama between Lana and Rusev and Cena’s US Open Challenge seem like two completely separate, self-sufficient storylines.

The I QUIT match at Payback is advertised as the end of the Rusev vs. Cena rivalry. In my opinion, this feud should have ended long time ago.  Even if there was any minimal doubt as to who was going to come on top at Extreme Rules, it’s blatantly obvious that Rusev stands no chance at Payback. I talked about the I QUIT match, being a logical but unwanted point of the evolution of this feud, months before it was booked. Both men have never submitted. It was only a matter of time before that was utilised. However, we know for a fact that Cena will never give up. That’s his motto and the core of his character. The lack of suspense renders the entire match utterly useless.

The truth is that even if Cena wasn’t “Superman Cena – the face of the company”, he would have still won. His US title reign has been brilliant. The US title open challenge has given superstars the opportunity to shine. New faces can have their go at the top star of the company and show that they can hang with the best in the ring, without having to worry about expectations. It’s obvious that Cena won’t lose, especially with a title on the line. All his opponents need to worry about is showing skills and impressing the audience and the management. That’s what Sami Zayn did in his outstanding RAW debut. Opportunities like this aren’t easy to come by and are far more important that a simple storyline and a single man, even if it’s the strongly pushed Rusev, so the title is staying where it is now.

John Cena, in possession of the US championship, has found his perfect spot. He’s in the spotlight but he’s not in the run for the Big One, so he stays in the periphery, which saves him a lot of criticism from the fans. He’s still winning all the time but he’s also opening doors for younger superstars to prove themselves. Love or hate Cena, but you can’t deny that he has actually brought prestige to the US title. It had been held by heels for far too long. Rusev had walked over the pride of the American nation way too many times for the fans’ liking. The WWE Universe was tired of it, so Cena’s reign of patriotism and righteousness is welcomed gladly.

Rusev, however, hasn’t been doing so great. The Bulgarian Brute has almost completely forgotten about Cena and the championship. Although Rusev cuts regular promos on the topic, his actions speak of different issues. His main focus seems to be on Lana’s growing popularity. Payback feels like an afterthought and Rusev looks worse and worse every time he comes out. The Hero of The Russian Federation is very close to adopting a wife-beater gimmick here. The way he yells at Lana and the way she fearfully leaves create some ugly scenes.  Lana has undergone a complete character change. I’m not bothered so much by the fact that she enjoys the fans’ attention, but by the fact that she completely lost her authority. Lana had Rusev in the palm of her hand. There was a time when he wouldn’t lock or release the Accolade without her explicit order to do so.

The worst part is that it seems like the jealousy storyline is created only to push Lana, while Rusev is there just to facilitate her face turn with his heel ways.  It’s bad when the valet has more momentum and better future prospects than the superstar. Rusev has lost so much in the last few months that it will be almost impossible to recover. He lost his streak, his title and now he’s about to be stripped from his valet and his “never surrender” reign. After Payback, Rusev will be left on his own, with no strong character traits left intact. The future looks very dark for the Bulgarian Brute, which is a shame, knowing that he is very capable in the ring.

In my opinion, the Cena vs. Rusev feud is already dead. They’ve even already moved on.  Cena’s busy with his title and Rusev’s busy with his girl. The common rivalry is a side errand for both of them.  It poses the question whether the I QUIT match was necessary at all. Although, exploiting the fact that neither man has quit before makes sense on paper, in real life, it lacks tension. No one sees Rusev as a threat to Cena and Lana attracts more attention than all the build-up to their match up to now. It’s inevitable – we’ll see Rusev surrender to Cena at Payback. All I hope for is that the Bulgarian Brute won’t sink after that loss.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.