wrestling / Columns

411 Wrestling Fact or Fiction: Will John Cena Wrestle His Final Match at Wrestlemania in London?

August 27, 2023 | Posted by Jake Chambers
WWE Money in the Bank john Cena Image Credit: WWE

Welcome back to the 411mania Wrestling Fact or Fiction. I’m your host Jake Chambers.

Last weekend the New Japan G1 Climax concluded, so this week I wanted to bring on one of the reviewers who covered every day of the tournament to get his thoughts on NJPW moving forward, the born in the (reviewing) ring, Sir Ian Hamilton!

Since he also lives in the London, I thought I’d throw in a few bonus UK wrestling statements as well.

Without further ado, it’s time to max the max!

Statement #1: Tetsuya Naito was the right choice to win the 2023 G1 Climax.

Ian Hamilton: FACT – At the start of the tournament, I’d have said no – particularly since there are several other story threads that were more enticing, be it elevating one of the new 3 Musketeers, Will Ospreay’s year-long story, or even “Okada wins again LOL”. However, the story they seem to be telling is compelling once you’ve got the pieces – Naito getting the main event of WrestleKingdom (and hopefully winning) ten years on from the fans voting him OUT of the WK main event…

Jake Chambers: FICTION – Giving Naito three G1 victories for his career seems like a lot. And since Naito already got to go back to the main event of Wrestle Kingdom and beat Okada, he now wants to get there again to he can finish his LIJ “role call” that was interrupted by KENTA last time. That’s the “story” that needs to be finished? If you compare Naito’s G1 semi-final match to his finals match, you can see who the real winner should have been – the only person in NJPW right now putting on multiple “match of the year” candidates every time he’s in a big spot: Will Ospreay.

Statement #2: The G1 tournament should have less entrants and feature only those with a good chance of winning.

Ian Hamilton: FICTION – There’s a difference between “having a good chance of winning” and “being seen as any good.” To some extent, you need people who have no hope of winning to even out the blocks – someone’s got to finish last, after all. The issue was the mix was too slanted towards the “no hopers.” From the 32 they had, there was about a dozen who you could stretch and say had a chance of winning – but on the same token, you had too many names who were clearly there to make up the numbers and pad out the 119 matches…

Jake Chambers: FICTION – I liked having so many wrestlers in it this year, especially all the ones with no chance of winning. The concept of the G1 is not really about who ultimately wins, it’s about the challenge of the tournament itself. Of course we know there’s only going to be a couple of real potential winners, even if they’d narrowed it down to 16 or 12 entrants. No different from the Royal Rumble, but instead of some mid-carder coming out for a few minutes of meaningless scrambles in the corner that no one pays attention to, in the G1 you get a month’s worth of singles matches with stakes, progression, and mini-stories. For a company where you rarely even see singles matches from most of these wrestlers, that’s pretty awesome. They could have 64 wrestlers in it next year and I’d be happy.

Statement #3: This year’s G1 theme song “Born in the Ring” was better than 2021’s awesome “Max the Max”.

Ian Hamilton: FICTION – You can’t out-max the max.

Jake Chambers: FICTION – But still, “Born in the Ring” was pretty badass.


Statement #4: You CARE who wins the NJPW G1 Climax.

Jake Chambers: FACT – I do. After decades of being a fan of pro-wrestling I think it might be the last thing I really do care about. Following Japanese wrestling for as long as I have wasn’t easy at for a long time, and even back then winning the G1 wasn’t at the top of my list of prized achievements (for those who thought this year’s tournament was lame, trust me, there was WAY worse). But being able to stream the entire G1 live for almost a decade now has been a wonderful experience. We were able to see some truly exceptional tournaments during that time, but even the ones that never hit those heights haven’t dampened my awe for watching the whole thing come together in real time. It is the most artful and athletic combination of narrative and sport that we have as wrestling fans. So I do have favourites that I would like to see achieve a G1 victory, and when they are in the hunt I legit care. 

Ian Hamilton: FACT – If only because New Japan hasn’t overdone tropes. We’ve only had one G1 winner go on to fail to make it to the Tokyo Dome main event – and that makes both the tournament and the ensuing briefcase defences feel special. Sure, it’s nowhere near the levels of the peak G1 years, but there’s a reason people still pay attention during G1 season.

Statement #5: SANADA will still be IWGP Champion by Wrestle Kingdom 2024.

Jake Chambers: FICTION – Seems like SANADA is a good opponent for Naito since they were in the same faction, there’s not a lot of “NJPW” time between now Wrestle Kingdom, SANADA is always voted as one of the most popular wrestlers in Japan, and he is still good looking (an often underrated factor in who main events Tokyo Dome shows). However, two big things stick out for me: he remains pretty mediocre in the ring, and Okada never got his rematch. 

EVIL will get a shot at SANADA’s title before Wrestle Kingdom, and I’m guessing SANADA will win that one. But there is still time after that for Okada’s rematch. And although there is a loose story between Naito and SANADA (just leaving a faction isn’t really Bloodline levels of narrative), the Tokyo Dome main event rubber match between two legendary rivals is the real conclusion that has been built up for many years.

Ian Hamilton: FICTION – As much as I really, REALLY don’t want this to be the match, all signs are pointing towards EVIL vs. Naito as the big match for WrestleKingdom. Sure, SANADA also split from LIJ, but EVIL’s departure was much more acrimonious – and at least to a section of the fanbase, the House of Torture stuff is over. SANADA, at least to Western ears, just isn’t landing the way people feel he should… and as such I can see him dropping the title before too long.

Statement #6: A surprise in pro-wrestling is only good when it is something you want to happen or is the “right” decision by the booker.

Jake Chambers: FICTION – Of course, I think we were all “surprised” by Hikuleo wining second place in the G1 A Block. This may be a straw-man argument (as much of this response will include, FYI), but I’d say most seemed pretty disappointed that it wasn’t one of the more dynamic younger stars, or specifically NOAH’s Kaito Kiyomiya who it seemed many had penciled in as the runner-up from the beginning. 

So do we NOT want to be surprised then? It’s possible the objective “surprise” is out of fashion in current popular culture. Everything that’s going to happen is happily spoiled in advance, and results are only deemed good because they lived up to an expected outcome. It’s not a “surprise” when Sami Zayn turns on Roman Reigns because everyone was calling for it to happen every week until it did. But it’s praised as great storytelling because it did what we expected. When was the last time we got a surprise like Dude Love interrupting the Austin/McMahon RAW main event? Or JBL beating Eddie Guerrero for the WWE Title? Sheaums shockingly beat Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania in seconds and it almost started a riot of anger, but when Bryan “surprised” us by winning two matches in one night at Wrestlemania 30 like we all knew he was going to it was a legendary moment. I just feel for the booker’s these days trying to figure out how to surprise an audience anymore. 

In defense of Hikuleo, if you watched all of the NJPW Strong weekly shows before it changed format, you could see that he was actually quite good, and well deserving of getting this shot, and I think he delivered with his match against Naito in the quarter-finals that clearly no one who advanced from Block A was going to win anyways.

Ian Hamilton: Ooh… FICTION – As much as I liked Hikuleo being the young gun going through, of course I’d have loved to have seen a Yota Tsuji or a Shota Umino get that spot (although having seen all three up close and personal during their excursions with Rev Pro, it’s a bit like asking someone to pick their favourite child, so I hear). Sure, predictable surprises are always nice, but sometimes the easiest solution isn’t always the best.


Statement #7: The card for AEW’s All In show at Wembley Stadium looks pretty lame so far.

Jake Chambers: FACT – Booking the rubber match of Ospreay/Omega trilogy as the main event of one of the biggest shows of all time seems like the easiest decision ever. But that’s not going to happen? I don’t get it. The only explanation I can guess is that they didn’t expect to get a crowd even a quarter of this size, and now they don’t want to book Omega to lose. Otherwise, the card currently looks like a stacked episode of Dynamite. 

Ian Hamilton: FACT – It’s a talking point I’m tired of, but this is a) a pay-per-view (screw that PLE terminology!), b) AEW’s first show outside of North America and c) the biggest crowd they’ll have for a long while. Those last two points alone make this AEW’s one of biggest shows ever by default – save for the first Dynamite and shows of that ilk. Right now, my beef isn’t so much with the line-up but with the lack of clear build – because even if you buy the “we had injuries” story… what matches were being built up to on TV only to be scrapped? To borrow a football analogy, AEW were given an open goal and they’re on the verge of ballooning the ball out of the stadium. Or to compare it to the NFL… they’re fixing to do the Mark Sanchez butt fumble. Yes, I’m having to laugh at my Jets…

Statement #8: Not only will Wrestlemania take place in London in a few years but it will also be the location for John Cena’s retirement match.

Ian Hamilton: FICTION – I’m 100% of the opinion that the Cena segment at Money in the Bank was a total knee-jerk reaction to AEW’s Wembley sales. IF Cena gets a retirement match, it’ll absolutely be in the US – and I’m not entirely sold on WWE bringing WrestleMania to the UK, let alone London. IF AEW can persist with their Euro success, then maybe…

Jake Chambers: FACT – Oh, I believe this is happening for sure. Cena doing that whole segment was part of the WWE’s new “long-term storytelling” direction. The match will probably be against Grayson Waller too. Put your money on this one, it’s a lock.

Thanks so much to Ian Hamilton for his expertise this week on all things NJPW and the American invasion of UK wrestling venues.

Please follow him over at Twitter/X @IanWrestling or at BlueSky, Instagram and Threads with that same handle.

And we’ll see you back here next week for more FoF real muscle live!