Last Friday’s WWE SmackDown on FOX featured a fiery promo segment between John Cena and WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns to hype their main event match at SummerSlam this coming Saturday. Below is footage from the segment, which included references to Dean Ambrose (Jon Moxley), WWE Hall of Famer Nikki Bella, and even CM Punk.
Reigns and Cena reportedly pulled the segment off with no pre-show rehearsals, according to Ringside News. The promo was said to be a big hit backstage, described as a “sellout” at the backstage monitor.
While WWE Producer Jamie Noble produced the segment, it was noted that he “stayed on headsets” during the promo between Cena and Reigns. WWE creative writer Michael Kirschenbaum was the writer assigned to the segment, but Cena wrote his own part and Reigns’ lines were handled by he and Paul Heyman.
What makes the back & forth even more impressive is that it looks like Cena and Reigns had very little contact before going out, if any. Reigns and Heyman were not in the Gorilla Position backstage until just before going out to confront Cena in the ring, and there was a time when some people backstage were wondering, “Where are they?”
One WWE creative source noted, “I don’t even know if [Cena and Reigns] talked before the segment.” In regards to there being no pre-segment rehearsal between the WWE veterans, a source added, “I don’t even know if they saw each other beforehand or if they knew what the other was going to say.”
It was noted that the two said a lot, and those reactions were genuinely organic. It was also said that Reigns and Cena staying away from each other was done on purpose.
Regarding the backstage reaction to the promos, RSN added that WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon “loved” the segment and how far Cena and Reigns went to maintain their genuine reactions. Kirschenbaum handled cues and music for the segment because he had to inform McMahon what would be happening.
It was also noted that while the segment had an assigned writer, Kirschenbaum, and a producer, Noble, the creative credit goes to Cena, Reigns and Heyman for bringing everything together.
The segment between Cena and Reigns was described as a rare example of McMahon trusting people enough to have creative freedom on WWE TV. A source noted how rare it is for McMahon to allow this kind of setup, but it’s more proof of how much he trusts everyone involved.
Cena and Reigns will be back on this Friday’s SmackDown for the go-home build for Saturday’s SummerSlam main event. It will be interesting to see if they can top last week’s segment.