Lao poet’s book, ‘Before We Remember the Dream’ set for October release

Bryan Thao Worra by S. Houghton Phoutavong, for the cover of his 2018 book of poetry, “Before We Remember We Dream.”

MINNEAPOLIS (Aug. 22, 2018) — Sahtu Press recently announced the forthcoming release of the new illustrated poetry collection entitled “Before We Remember We Dream” by award-winning poet Bryan Thao Worra. This new book explores memory and geography in the Lao diaspora, and will be released in October, 2018. The collection also features original art by Nor Sanavongsay.

There are over 232,000 Lao in the United States and many of them arrived as refugees in the 1980s with over 13,000 resettling in Minnesota. Covering a period of nearly 45 years, “Before We Remember We Dream” navigates the unique experience of the author that took him from the final years of the war in Laos to Montana, Alaska, and his formative years in Michigan and Washington D.C. and a meandering search for his long-lost family. Drawing on such diverse influences as the science fiction film Blade Runner to the ancient Lao epic of Sinxay, the history of Lao cinema, paleontology, the horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, Playboy playmates, and a Hmong emu farm in Missoula, Thao Worra asks readers in this collection to assess what it means for refugees to rebuild, transform and tell their stories in their own words and on their own terms.

Sahtu Press focuses on books, publications and cultural information, particularly specializing in Lao American writers and artists. A non-profit press, it was established with a primary mission to publish and promote enduring contemporary Lao American literature and to create academic and grassroots learning opportunities. From children’s books to other literary domains, the press is dedicated to the publication of excellent work by Lao American writers, while promoting positivity and cultural harmony.

Nor Sanavongsay is an award-winning Lao American writer based in the San Francisco Bay area and he is the founder of Sahtu Press. He has been a member of several platforms, including the SatJaDham Lao Literary Project, the National Lao American Writers Summit and the Lao Artists Festival of Elgin. He is also the author of children’s books inspired by Lao folktales, such as Xieng Mieng: A Sticky Mess, and the contemporary Mommy Eats Fried Grasshoppers. Some of his handiwork can be seen from companies like Encyclopedia Britannica, Sears, Zoosk, and Barnes & Noble among others.” Before We Remember We Dream” is his first illustrated poetry book.

Bryan Thao Worra is a Lao American writer. Born in Vientiane, Laos in 1973, he holds over 20 awards for his writing and community leadership including an NEA Fellowship in Literature and was a Cultural Olympian representing Laos during the 2012 London Summer Games. He is the president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, a 40-year old international literary organization celebrating the poetry of the imaginative and the fantastic.  He has presented at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Loft Literary Center, Intermedia Arts, Kearny Street Workshop, the Institute for Contemporary Art, among many others, and recently as a Visiting Artist with University of Merced Center for the Humanities. His work appears internationally in Australia, Canada, Scotland, Germany, France, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Korea, and Pakistan.

The cover was painted by Lao American visual artist and educator  Sisavanh Phouthavong-Houghton, based in Tennessee with roots in Kansas and Vientiane, Laos. Born in 1976, she emigrated with her family in 1980, first to the Nong Khai refugee camp in Thailand, followed by an initial resettlement to Winfield, Kansas. She holds a B.F.A (Painting) from the University of Kansas and an M.F.A. (Painting/Drawing) from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, Ill.  As an Associate Professor at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn., she is regularly teaching advanced level painting courses. She is represented by Tinney Contemporary gallery in Nashville.

Both author and illustrator will be available to talk at schools and book clubs throughout 2019. Also, there will be discount rates for the book available for non-profits, libraries and schools. They will also be available to sign books at these events. Book release events will be held across the country beginning in October. For more information on “Before We Remember We Dream,” please visit: www.sahtupress.com

A dream deferred

Bastar Dispatches

Author : Narendra

Publisher : HarperCollins India, Rs 499

Modernity has found one excuse or the other to not reach Bastar. But that delay has helped the tribes retain their way of life, says JIGYASA HASIJA

Sometimes the best way to understand ourselves is to look into a mirror. Such is the insight in sociologist Narendra’s new book. In search of himself, and seemingly disappointed and unsatisfied with life, as a young man he reaches out to a tribe in the deep forests of Bastar in Chhattisgarh, the hunter-gatherer ethnic group of the Abhujmadias. He goes one step further than his predecessors Wilfred Grigson (The Maria Gonds of Bastar, 1938) and Verrier Elwin (The Muria and their Ghotul, 1947). Instead of objective and ostensibly detached interviews, he meets them on their own turf. Terming it as a homecoming of sorts, the author’s sentiment for this fascinating ethnic way of life becomes amplified with each page, each experience. Imagine Jake Sully from David Cameron’s 2009 film Avatar in an Indian setting.

Narendra gives the reader a head-start with the first line of the book — “Abhujmad is not a mythical construct,” because what he is about to narrate might seem concocted, fabricated, or worse, fictitious. As the reader delves deep into the forests of underdeveloped and mineral-rich Bastar, every aspect starts brimming with life. The author has divided his work into four aspects, each unusual for the contemporary reader — language, living conditions, exchange with the outside world, and connections with the environment. Every feature is given a liberal amount of space, and the author’s conversations with the people are liberally interspersed with background information. He reaches out to the tribal men and women featured in the book to get a fuller picture of the Abhujmadia way of life. What is it like, he constantly questions, to live in such a world, where there is an incredibly different concept of time and space? Together, these aspects take the reader on an engaging tour into the clan’s beliefs and ways, explaining in detail how this tribe has managed to stay away from modernity.

It all began in 1980 when Narendra became associated with a field research programme under the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), to investigate the Adivasi way of life. Till about 1985, the writer chose to stay in Abhujmad. His work, thus, desists from discussing Left Wing Extremism (LWE) or the interference of the then Government in the day-to-day life of the tribals in detail. Though the author sympathises with the inhabitants’ problems with the Government, modernisation and social democratisation, he does not give any details as to what methods the State uses vis-a-vis the people of Bastar. Some personal narratives of affected people have been included. However, no mention has been made of the daily perils of the Adivasis. The history of the inhabitants has also been done away with. The author tends to focus more on the mystical side of the clan, talking about how actions are really sensed rather than seen. For instance, in a chapter titled ‘Random Field Notes,’ the writer reminisces about the impenetrable, dense vegetation of the forest, especially at night, and that, “There is no knowing or not-knowing”. In another chapter about place and time, his focus digresses into death as a subject and how dates or attempting to record a period is unnecessary in the larger scheme of things. One episode in particular stands out — about a forest beat guard defying death by a whisker, with help from a native Adivasi woman who initially contested with a wild bear, and ultimately tricked it into running away. 

It is interesting to note that Narendra was the first outsider to live with the Abhujmadias. Basing his writing on 30 years of his association with contiguous areas in the Bastar division of Chhattisgarh, the author brings out the wild forest, humans and animals, and distances, collectively-styled societies and intimacies. At present, the population of the 237 villages in Abhujmad is 35,000 people; in 1985 it was approximately 13,000. In 2007, the Ministry of Environment labelled the Marxist hotbed Bastar as an ecological reserve, and it was only recently in 2009 that outsiders were allowed to enter the area by the Government. So impenetrable and cut-off from the outside world is this hilly forest zone, that some villages had not even known the impact of the wheel, or the taste of salt. Narendra’s preface goes thus:

“The small Abhujmadia community lived on food gathering and hunting, with shifting cultivation as a supplement. Shifting cultivation was not practised every year or by each family. Still, in a somewhat primeval stage, the region has neither trade, nor industry, commerce, occupation, or other modern apparatus. But neither was there hunger, starvation, beggary or lingering disease. Whereas an average village consisted of three-four scattered huts, an average family had four-five members. Amidst the primeval silence of dense wilds, the Abhujmadias continued to live in their tiny bamboo-and-thatch huts…”.

Not needing more than 500 words to converse, and counting only up to five because “it is not required,” the author paints a Utopian picture of a very different sensibility. In between, the reader would be forced to ponder upon and acknowledge the damage which has been inflicted in the name of civilisation. Much of what the writer has vividly described comes across as bewildering and at times, stunning. Bastar Dispatches is also associated with the ‘Dark Mountain’ project, which includes scholars such as Douglas Hine, Cody Meyocks, Steve Wheeler, John Zerzan, Dr David Fleming, Margaret Elphinstone, James Cowan, Andreas Kornevall, John Rember, Joanna Varawa, and Mike Edwards.

Literary images confront directly; they confound, stifle and paralyse poetically, politically and psychosomatically. The Abhujmadias see themselves as a part of Mother Nature, which remains sublime under their guard till this day. They understand that it is too vast in its power. This book comes as a breath of fresh air in the wake of reports about diminishing glaciers, oil spills and deforestation. It is almost like a fairytale, a haze which refuses to lift even a while after you are through with the written word.

Peppered with words and anecdotes of wise men and women, what also helps the authentic stamp is the author’s preference for narration in the form of letters and diary entries which makes it an honest and readable book. Even the pictures provided are rare gems, as photography is strictly prohibited in Abhujmad; the ones clicked are in fact from areas immediately adjacent and culturally contiguous to Abhujmad. The book shows that for Bastar, even the deferred dream of modernity has helped save an even more beautiful dream — their unique culture and ideas.

5 Huge WWE Dream Matches For The Return Of John Cena

Credit: WWE.comCredit: WWE.com

"The Champ" revealed last month that he will return to the ring at WWE’s live event in Shanghai, China on September 1st, marking his first appearance for the company since April’s Greatest Royal Rumble special in Saudia Arabia. WWE has, of course, missed the presence of Cena, who many have called WWE’s biggest draw and appears to be a significantly bigger attraction than Roman Reigns, the star who is currently booked as the face of the company in Cena’s absence.

Cena has proven in the past to make a drastic difference when it comes to both TV ratings and live event attendance, so although he isn’t advertised for any other future appearances beyond October’s Super Show-Down event, there is optimism regarding Cena’s return and the possibility that it leads to him coming back to Raw or SmackDown for a major feud and a slew of potential dream matches. While Cena had recently been linked to a potential rematch with The Undertaker, SummerSlam came and went without it happening, which means WWE will likely look in another direction for Cena’s next feud, whenever it may take place.

Over the past several years, WWE has already put Cena in a number of high-profile feuds and matches with top stars ranging from The Miz to AJ Styles to Shinsuke Nakamura, but rest assured, there are still plenty of rivalries waiting for him. Here are five dream matches/feuds WWE should do upon Cena’s return to the ring.

Braun Strowman

Credit: WWE.comCredit: WWE.com

Although Cena faced Braun Strowman on Raw last year, that match came with absolutely zero build, and in fact, it wasn’t even announced in advance.

While that may hurt the luster of this potential dream match a bit, it’s a feud that must be done for Strowman, one of a handful of stars that WWE is clearly grooming to carry the company when Cena is gone for good. Especially now that Strowman appears to be in the early stages of a heel turn and recently found himself on a bizarre looking streak of sorts, it’s imperative that WWE book Strowman in marquee feuds with the company’s top stars, and it doesn’t get any bigger than a bout with Cena.

There are no secrets about Cena’s drawing power, which continues to grow as his acting careers takes off, but there are signs that Strowman is perhaps WWE’s most must-see attraction among its current full-timers. In 2017, Strowman was arguably WWE’s biggest YouTube draw, and that remained true early this year when, during a five-month analysis of WWE YouTube viewership, he ranked among the company’s most viewed stars on the video-sharing site. This comes around the same time Strowman became a top merchandise seller and not long after the Wrestling Observer reported that no one main evented as many shows that drew at least 10,000 fans as Strowman did in 2017.

In other words, Strowman is a budding draw, and given that he’s never had a full-fledged feud with Cena or a match that had any sort of story leading up to it, there’s certainly reason to believe that a battle between two of WWE’s most polarizing stars could be a big viewership hit and a great way to cement Strowman as a villain once again.

Drew McIntyre

Credit: WWE.comCredit: WWE.com

Vince McMahon is reportedly a big fan of Drew McIntyre and is actively involved in the booking of his character on the main roster, where he envisions McIntyre gradually being elevated to the main event, though he might get there sooner than expected.

If you listen carefully to the announce team on Raw, they’re clearly pushing McIntyre and trying to get him over as someone who can be a main eventer and world title contender for the next five to 10 years. McIntyre has already impressed, not just with his bodybuilder physique, but also with his promos, his in-ring skills and his charisma that has evolved so much since he last was on WWE’s main roster a few years ago.

You can see that McIntyre is right on the cusp of greatness, and looking back over the last couple of years, WWE has often paired Cena with stars who were new to Raw or SmackDown and the company obviously had big plans for. That was true of Kevin Owens, Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles, who all worked with Cena almost immediately after making their main roster debuts and were viewed as much bigger stars because of it. McIntyre, as a star with a world of unlimited potential, should be next to join that list whenever Cena comes back to Raw.

Cena has this uncanny ability to make new stars seem like a big deal, and with McIntyre’s presence alone (plus the commentary from the announce team) making it clear that he is viewed backstage as WWE’s "next big thing," having him work with Cena would be the final stamp of approval that would make fans say, "Hey, this guy is worth paying attention to." One of the biggest ongoing issues with WWE is its lack of clear top heels, and McIntyre has anything and everything you could want out of a main event caliber villain.

Putting him in a feud with Cena would not only help McIntyre get there, but it would be a fresh dream rivalry for both stars during an era when those seem harder and harder to come by.

Goldberg

Credit: WWE.comCredit: WWE.com

Any wrestling fan who doesn’t like seeing part-timers "take a spot" from a full-timer won’t like to hear this, but Goldberg was a big draw for WWE during his recent run.

That has reportedly left the door open for WWE to use Goldberg again in the future if and when the time and money is right after Goldberg apparently landed a very lucrative deal with the company during his run that lasted from Survivor Series in November 2016 to WrestleMania 33 in 2017. As exemplified by all of the hype and buzz created by Goldberg’s feud with Brock Lesnar, fans don’t necessarily need to expect a stellar in-ring performance from a star if the story he’s involved in is good and if the match features enough star power for a lack of in-ring skills to be overlooked.

Goldberg has never been confused for a great in-ring worker, but as we saw with Cena vs. Undertaker at WrestleMania 34, a match between two stars of this magnitude will get people talking and watching, even if the match isn’t expected to be anything remotely resembling an instant classic. Surely, Cena vs. Undertaker was far from one, but the sheer thought of seeing two of the biggest legends in pro wrestling history was enough to make fans interested in it. And it’s highly likely that the same would be true of a dream match between Cena and Goldberg.

They are, of course, two of the most protected and strongly booked stars in wrestling history, with Goldberg being the unbeatable behemoth in WCW and Cena spending much of his WWE career as the unstoppable "Super Cena." While Cena vs. Goldberg would have been an even bigger deal a decade ago, WWE fans have made it clear that they love nostalgia and will pay to see it, even if that means watching two stars who are past their primes.

With Goldberg and Cena both having plenty of drawing power but also nearing the ends of their careers, the door that is open for a Goldberg return is slowly shutting, and this is a dream bout WWE will think long and hard about if all the dominoes fall the right way and WWE wants one more never-before-seen match out of both stars.

Velveteen Dream

Credit: WWE.comCredit: WWE.com

John Cena recently said that NXT star Velveteen Dream is "the one," which was essentially Cena’s way of telling fans that Dream could carry the WWE into the future.

Needless to say, that’s high praise for Velveteen Dream coming from the biggest name in the business, but it could also be a precursor to a potential dream feud between the two charismatic superstars. Velveteen Dream is reportedly on the "short list" of superstars who are expected to be promoted from NXT to the main roster in the near future, and there would be perhaps no bigger initial rivalry for Dream than Cena, who needs some fresh rivalries and would get just that from Dream, one of the world’s most charismatic superstars.

Velveteen Dream, quite simply, oozes that charisma, and much like what happened with Owens and Styles, pairing him with Cena immediately upon his call-up could do wonders for his career. After all, perception is reality, and if Dream is instantly perceived to be a massive star by working with Cena, WWE’s measuring stick, then the reality is that there is a good chance he will become just that. Owens and WWE Hall of Famer Edge are two other stars who have heaped praise upon Velveteen Dream for his tremendous character work, but because Dream has such a niche gimmick that is tailor made for NXT, he will need the right opponent when he transitions to Raw or SmackDown.

Cena, who has spent most of this decade putting on instant classics with guys of similar size and in-ring style to Velveteen Dream, could get the most out of the former Tough Enough contestant, who has proven in bouts with stars like Aleister Black and Richochet that, even at just 23 years old, he is already a fantastic wrestler. The character work for Dream is already there, and the in-ring work isn’t far behind. He just needs a little something extra to push him over the edge.

That nudge can come from Cena, who would work incredibly well with a star as talented as Dream is, all while giving fans a highly anticipated rivalry that would be a welcome change from the main roster’s current monotony.

Samoa Joe

Credit: WWE.comCredit: WWE.com

There is a long and storied history between Cena and Samoa Joe, who came up together in the business nearly two decades ago and are finally crossing paths again in WWE after avoiding each other for most of their runs there.

Cena and Samoa Joe have never had a televised match, and even though WWE teased a potential feud between the two on the road to WrestleMania 34, it never came to fruition when Joe was bitten by the injury bug. But now? Joe is perhaps on the verge of becoming WWE Champion and ending Styles’ impressive nine-month title reign, which would put him in need of some capable babyface challengers, something SmackDown is somewhat lacking at the moment.

Thus, WWE should seriously consider bringing back Cena for what can only be called a dream rivalry between the true face of WWE and a man who was so synonymous with WWE’s closest competitor, TNA, for more than a decade. In many ways, a Joe vs. Cena bout would be a clash between the face of WWE and the face of TNA, but it would come on the bigger stage of WWE when Joe’s star power has grown exponentially.

Indeed, there is plenty of evidence that Joe is a budding draw, who has stronger-than-expected merchandise sales, drew well as a PPV headliner and is one of the best talkers currently in WWE. The creative team really needs to rally behind Joe to make him an unstoppable world champion, and to do so, Joe needs to defeat the best of the best on SmackDown, a list that certainly includes Cena. "The Champ," after all, is at a point in his career where losing won’t hurt him one bit, and it’s really more about seeing him participate in a slew of dream matches as his time in pro wrestling begins to wear thin.

Knowing how much of a draw Cena is and seeing that Joe is perhaps WWE’s most believable heel, this is a match that the creative team must make happen before it’s too late.

Blake Oestriecher is an elementary school teacher by day and a sports writer by night. He’s a contributor to @ForbesSports, where he primarily covers WWE. You can follow him on Twitter @BOestriecher.

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WWE is about to get a huge boost from the return of John Cena.

Credit: WWE.comCredit: WWE.com

“The Champ” revealed last month that he will return to the ring at WWE’s live event in Shanghai, China on September 1st, marking his first appearance for the company since April’s Greatest Royal Rumble special in Saudia Arabia. WWE has, of course, missed the presence of Cena, who many have called WWE’s biggest draw and appears to be a significantly bigger attraction than Roman Reigns, the star who is currently booked as the face of the company in Cena’s absence.

Cena has proven in the past to make a drastic difference when it comes to both TV ratings and live event attendance, so although he isn’t advertised for any other future appearances beyond October’s Super Show-Down event, there is optimism regarding Cena’s return and the possibility that it leads to him coming back to Raw or SmackDown for a major feud and a slew of potential dream matches. While Cena had recently been linked to a potential rematch with The Undertaker, SummerSlam came and went without it happening, which means WWE will likely look in another direction for Cena’s next feud, whenever it may take place.

Over the past several years, WWE has already put Cena in a number of high-profile feuds and matches with top stars ranging from The Miz to AJ Styles to Shinsuke Nakamura, but rest assured, there are still plenty of rivalries waiting for him. Here are five dream matches/feuds WWE should do upon Cena’s return to the ring.

Braun Strowman

Credit: WWE.comCredit: WWE.com

Although Cena faced Braun Strowman on Raw last year, that match came with absolutely zero build, and in fact, it wasn’t even announced in advance.

While that may hurt the luster of this potential dream match a bit, it’s a feud that must be done for Strowman, one of a handful of stars that WWE is clearly grooming to carry the company when Cena is gone for good. Especially now that Strowman appears to be in the early stages of a heel turn and recently found himself on a bizarre looking streak of sorts, it’s imperative that WWE book Strowman in marquee feuds with the company’s top stars, and it doesn’t get any bigger than a bout with Cena.

There are no secrets about Cena’s drawing power, which continues to grow as his acting careers takes off, but there are signs that Strowman is perhaps WWE’s most must-see attraction among its current full-timers. In 2017, Strowman was arguably WWE’s biggest YouTube draw, and that remained true early this year when, during a five-month analysis of WWE YouTube viewership, he ranked among the company’s most viewed stars on the video-sharing site. This comes around the same time Strowman became a top merchandise seller and not long after the Wrestling Observer reported that no one main evented as many shows that drew at least 10,000 fans as Strowman did in 2017.

In other words, Strowman is a budding draw, and given that he’s never had a full-fledged feud with Cena or a match that had any sort of story leading up to it, there’s certainly reason to believe that a battle between two of WWE’s most polarizing stars could be a big viewership hit and a great way to cement Strowman as a villain once again.

Drew McIntyre

Credit: WWE.comCredit: WWE.com

Vince McMahon is reportedly a big fan of Drew McIntyre and is actively involved in the booking of his character on the main roster, where he envisions McIntyre gradually being elevated to the main event, though he might get there sooner than expected.

If you listen carefully to the announce team on Raw, they’re clearly pushing McIntyre and trying to get him over as someone who can be a main eventer and world title contender for the next five to 10 years. McIntyre has already impressed, not just with his bodybuilder physique, but also with his promos, his in-ring skills and his charisma that has evolved so much since he last was on WWE’s main roster a few years ago.

You can see that McIntyre is right on the cusp of greatness, and looking back over the last couple of years, WWE has often paired Cena with stars who were new to Raw or SmackDown and the company obviously had big plans for. That was true of Kevin Owens, Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles, who all worked with Cena almost immediately after making their main roster debuts and were viewed as much bigger stars because of it. McIntyre, as a star with a world of unlimited potential, should be next to join that list whenever Cena comes back to Raw.

Cena has this uncanny ability to make new stars seem like a big deal, and with McIntyre’s presence alone (plus the commentary from the announce team) making it clear that he is viewed backstage as WWE’s “next big thing,” having him work with Cena would be the final stamp of approval that would make fans say, “Hey, this guy is worth paying attention to.” One of the biggest ongoing issues with WWE is its lack of clear top heels, and McIntyre has anything and everything you could want out of a main event caliber villain.

Putting him in a feud with Cena would not only help McIntyre get there, but it would be a fresh dream rivalry for both stars during an era when those seem harder and harder to come by.

Goldberg

Credit: WWE.comCredit: WWE.com

Any wrestling fan who doesn’t like seeing part-timers “take a spot” from a full-timer won’t like to hear this, but Goldberg was a big draw for WWE during his recent run.

That has reportedly left the door open for WWE to use Goldberg again in the future if and when the time and money is right after Goldberg apparently landed a very lucrative deal with the company during his run that lasted from Survivor Series in November 2016 to WrestleMania 33 in 2017. As exemplified by all of the hype and buzz created by Goldberg’s feud with Brock Lesnar, fans don’t necessarily need to expect a stellar in-ring performance from a star if the story he’s involved in is good and if the match features enough star power for a lack of in-ring skills to be overlooked.

Goldberg has never been confused for a great in-ring worker, but as we saw with Cena vs. Undertaker at WrestleMania 34, a match between two stars of this magnitude will get people talking and watching, even if the match isn’t expected to be anything remotely resembling an instant classic. Surely, Cena vs. Undertaker was far from one, but the sheer thought of seeing two of the biggest legends in pro wrestling history was enough to make fans interested in it. And it’s highly likely that the same would be true of a dream match between Cena and Goldberg.

They are, of course, two of the most protected and strongly booked stars in wrestling history, with Goldberg being the unbeatable behemoth in WCW and Cena spending much of his WWE career as the unstoppable “Super Cena.” While Cena vs. Goldberg would have been an even bigger deal a decade ago, WWE fans have made it clear that they love nostalgia and will pay to see it, even if that means watching two stars who are past their primes.

With Goldberg and Cena both having plenty of drawing power but also nearing the ends of their careers, the door that is open for a Goldberg return is slowly shutting, and this is a dream bout WWE will think long and hard about if all the dominoes fall the right way and WWE wants one more never-before-seen match out of both stars.

Velveteen Dream

Credit: WWE.comCredit: WWE.com

John Cena recently said that NXT star Velveteen Dream is “the one,” which was essentially Cena’s way of telling fans that Dream could carry the WWE into the future.

Needless to say, that’s high praise for Velveteen Dream coming from the biggest name in the business, but it could also be a precursor to a potential dream feud between the two charismatic superstars. Velveteen Dream is reportedly on the “short list” of superstars who are expected to be promoted from NXT to the main roster in the near future, and there would be perhaps no bigger initial rivalry for Dream than Cena, who needs some fresh rivalries and would get just that from Dream, one of the world’s most charismatic superstars.

Velveteen Dream, quite simply, oozes that charisma, and much like what happened with Owens and Styles, pairing him with Cena immediately upon his call-up could do wonders for his career. After all, perception is reality, and if Dream is instantly perceived to be a massive star by working with Cena, WWE’s measuring stick, then the reality is that there is a good chance he will become just that. Owens and WWE Hall of Famer Edge are two other stars who have heaped praise upon Velveteen Dream for his tremendous character work, but because Dream has such a niche gimmick that is tailor made for NXT, he will need the right opponent when he transitions to Raw or SmackDown.

Cena, who has spent most of this decade putting on instant classics with guys of similar size and in-ring style to Velveteen Dream, could get the most out of the former Tough Enough contestant, who has proven in bouts with stars like Aleister Black and Richochet that, even at just 23 years old, he is already a fantastic wrestler. The character work for Dream is already there, and the in-ring work isn’t far behind. He just needs a little something extra to push him over the edge.

That nudge can come from Cena, who would work incredibly well with a star as talented as Dream is, all while giving fans a highly anticipated rivalry that would be a welcome change from the main roster’s current monotony.

Samoa Joe

Credit: WWE.comCredit: WWE.com

There is a long and storied history between Cena and Samoa Joe, who came up together in the business nearly two decades ago and are finally crossing paths again in WWE after avoiding each other for most of their runs there.

Cena and Samoa Joe have never had a televised match, and even though WWE teased a potential feud between the two on the road to WrestleMania 34, it never came to fruition when Joe was bitten by the injury bug. But now? Joe is perhaps on the verge of becoming WWE Champion and ending Styles’ impressive nine-month title reign, which would put him in need of some capable babyface challengers, something SmackDown is somewhat lacking at the moment.

Thus, WWE should seriously consider bringing back Cena for what can only be called a dream rivalry between the true face of WWE and a man who was so synonymous with WWE’s closest competitor, TNA, for more than a decade. In many ways, a Joe vs. Cena bout would be a clash between the face of WWE and the face of TNA, but it would come on the bigger stage of WWE when Joe’s star power has grown exponentially.

Indeed, there is plenty of evidence that Joe is a budding draw, who has stronger-than-expected merchandise sales, drew well as a PPV headliner and is one of the best talkers currently in WWE. The creative team really needs to rally behind Joe to make him an unstoppable world champion, and to do so, Joe needs to defeat the best of the best on SmackDown, a list that certainly includes Cena. “The Champ,” after all, is at a point in his career where losing won’t hurt him one bit, and it’s really more about seeing him participate in a slew of dream matches as his time in pro wrestling begins to wear thin.

Knowing how much of a draw Cena is and seeing that Joe is perhaps WWE’s most believable heel, this is a match that the creative team must make happen before it’s too late.

Blake Oestriecher is an elementary school teacher by day and a sports writer by night. He’s a contributor to @ForbesSports, where he primarily covers WWE. You can follow him on Twitter @BOestriecher.