Aug 21, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Roman Reigns (black pants) with Paul Heyman (suit) and John Cena (denim shorts) battle for the WWE Universal Championship at SummerSlam 2021 at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

John Cena made major news at WWE’s Money in the Bank Premium Live Event on Saturday when the 16-time world champion announced his impending retirement from professional wrestling.

But before “The Greatest of All Time” hangs up his jorts for good, he’s going on a retirement tour. That will see him wrestle for WWE throughout 2025.

Speaking to reporters at a post-show press conference, Cena insisted that he won’t have any say over who the final opponent of his legendary career will be.

“There’s always unfinished business in the WWE, which probably makes this announcement extremely surprising because I’m trying to close up shop here,” Cena said. “I don’t and have never put much stock in expectations that are beyond my control. And I’ve tried to lead an existence where I can control what I can. And I am in no position to hand-pick opponents.

“I’ve always had a wonderful time challenging myself telling stories with whatever hand I was dealt. So I think that’s part of the allure and part of the excitement of what we’re about to embark on, is the stories we can tell and hopefully who’s gonna show up. We’ll see.”

That, however, hasn’t stopped fans from speculating who his final opponent might be. With that in mind, let’s take a look at five potential candidates who would make sense to be Cena’s last.

Randy Orton

If Cena wants to spend his retirement tour playing the hits, there may not be a final opponent who makes more sense than Randy Orton.

After training together — alongside Brock Lesnar and Batista — in WWE’s previous developmental territory, Ohio Valley Wrestling, Cena and Orton made their main roster debuts within weeks of each other in 2002. They proceeded to become two of the defining superstars of their generation and frequent in-ring rivals throughout the 2000s and early-2010s, with their last singles match against each other on WWE television coming in 2017.

While Cena has since made the move to Hollywood, Orton has remained one of WWE’s top stars and even participated in the main event of Saturday night’s show. In terms of a final opponent for Cena who would elicit both nostalgia and sentimentality, you’d be hard pressed to find a better option than Orton.

CM Punk

While Orton might be the rival Cena is most associated with, CM Punk was arguably his best on-camera foe. In 2011, the two engaged in a high profile feud that helped bring many lapsed fans — including this author — back to pro wrestling, which included one of the best matches in WWE history at that year’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view.

Despite Punk spending nearly 10 years away from WWE before returning last year and Cena having not been a full-time competitor since 2017, the stars have aligned for them to be back in the company at the same time. Whether it’s Cena’s last match or not, it seems like a safe bet that we’ll be getting at least one more installment of his legendary rivalry with Punk in 2025.

The Rock

Cena’s feud with The Rock was brief and ultimately only consisted of two matches; the main events of WrestleMania in 2012 and 2013. But considering the massive business their feud did — WrestleMania 28 lays claim to the biggest pay-per-view buyrate in WWE history — and their status as two of the biggest stars in the history of the industry, it’s considered by most to be the biggest of Cena’s career.

What’s more is that, like Punk, the stars have aligned for The Rock to potentially also be around during Cena’s retirement tour. And there also happens to be a natural starting point to reignite their feud, as they had an in-ring altercation during the main event of this year’s WrestleMania.

If WWE wants to maximize the star power of Cena’s final match, it would be tough to top a third match against “The Final Boss.”

Cody Rhodes

John Cena has faced Cody Rhodes on several occasions before.

But he’s never faced this Cody Rhodes.

After requesting his release from WWE in 2016, the son of the legendary Dusty Rhodes embarked on a tour of the independent pro wrestling scene, which led to the formation of rival promotion, All Elite Wrestling. Despite being one of AEW’s co-founders, Rhodes jumped ship from the company in 2022, returning to WWE in epic fashion at WrestleMania 38.

Over the course of the past two years, Rhodes has established himself as one of the biggest babyfaces (good guys) in the history of pro wrestling. In fact, the reigning WWE champion’s reliability as an attraction and public face of the company have drawn comparisons to Cena — and in some ways, he’s even surpassed his star power.

A feud between Cena and Rhodes not only writes itself, but there may not be a better in-ring opponent for the West Newbury, Massachusetts, native. If Cena wants to pass the torch, as is tradition in the industry, Rhodes has already cemented himself as a worthy heir.

Bron Breakker

While the other names on this list are four of the biggest in the history of pro wrestling, the same can’t be said about Bron Breakker. In fact, the son of Rick Steiner (and nephew of Scott Steiner) has only been a member of WWE’s main roster for a few months now.

But there’s a tradition in pro wrestling that you “go out on your back,” which means that you typically lose your final match to pay it forward to the next generation. And considering that Rhodes is already a made man with or without a future win over Cena, an up-and-comer like Breakker could benefit greatly from retiring the legend.

At this point in his professional wrestling career, Breakker is hardly a sure thing, but he’s shown plenty of potential and could very well be a main event star sooner than later. Having just taken his first pinfall on the main roster on Saturday night, the idea of him coming full circle with a win over Cena in his final match could make for a compelling story should he ultimately prove worthy of such honor in the next year.

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.