Brock Lesnar and John Cena are easily WWE’s two biggest superstars, affording them the opportunity to work a lighter schedule than the rest of the roster. Neither wrestler has appeared on WWE TV since SummerSlam on Aug. 21, and fans are wondering when they will make their return.
Lesnar’s future appears to be a little clearer than Cena’s. Ever since he began his second stint with WWE in 2012, the former UFC heavyweight champion has been a part-time performer, participating in just a few matches each year. Lesnar likely won’t appear on “Monday Night Raw” or “SmackDown” anytime soon, but his next match has been announced.
A rematch of SummerSlam’s main event between Lesnar and Randy Orton is set for Saturday, Sept. 24 at a live event in Chicago. The recent announcement came as a surprise, considering Lesnar exclusively fights on pay-per-view or WWE Network special events. He has had a few matches on Saturday night live events that were broadcast on WWE Network, but there is no indication that the upcoming match will be televised.
Lesnar defeated Orton at SummerSlam via TKO, and the match was stopped as Orton bled profusely from his head in the middle of the ring. Before he takes on Lesnar for a second time, Orton will face Bray Wyatt at Backlash on Sept. 11.
If recent history is any indication, Lesnar's first match after Sept. 24 won’t come until the Royal Rumble in January. That could come against Shane McMahon, who was on the receiving end of an F5 from Lesnar after the SummerSlam main event was stopped.
While Lesnar hasn’t wrestled at all since SummerSlam, Cena has had multiple matches, though none have been on TV. Most recently, he teamed with Roman Reigns to take on Wyatt and Seth Rollins when “SmackDown” went off the air.
Cena hasn’t been on TV since he lost to AJ Styles at SummerSlam. While there’s been speculation that he might be gone for a few months to film “American Grit,” much like he was at the end of 2015, filming for that show’s second season doesn’t begin until October, according to wrestlinginc.com. Cena is expected to reappear on “SmackDown” soon, before taking another hiatus a few weeks later.
The face of WWE for over a decade, Cena’s time in the ring has been limited over the past year. Cena took a two-month break from WWE following Hell in a Cell on Oct. 25, 2015, and he suffered a shoulder injury shortly after his return. The injury forced him to miss nearly five months, keeping him off the card for Royal Rumble and WrestleMania 32, though he did make a short appearance at WWE's biggest PPV of 2016.
Cena has only feuded with AJ Styles in 2015, facing him at three consecutive PPV’s. After losing to him for a second time at SummerSlam, their feud might not be finished and it could continue in the near future.
Styles will face Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Championship at Backlash, and Cena likely won’t be on the card. Cena and Styles could meet again at No Mercy a month later.