June 30, 2012
#39 John Cena vs. Randy Orton: Summerslam 2007 (Aug. 26, 2007)
John Cena was done for going into his WWE Title defense against longtime rival Randy Orton at SummerSlam 2007. In the days leading up to their highly anticipated showdown, The Viper had struck the WWE Champion with three RKOs, including one onto a steel chair. The brutal attacks served to not only injure Cena, but shake his steely confidence.
Wounded and vulnerable, Cena looked like he was on his way to being Orton’s latest victim in the physical match. Determined after destroying WWE Hall of Famers like Shawn Michaels, Dusty Rhodes and Sgt. Slaughter in the ring, The Viper dropped his powerful opponent with an RKO, but the tenacious Superstar somehow managed to kick out. From there, Cena found it in him to nail an Attitude Adjustment for one of the most inspiring victories of his career.
#38 John Cena vs. Chris Jericho: Raw (Aug. 22, 2005)
The night after John Cena successfully defended his WWE Championship against Chris Jericho at SummerSlam, the two Superstars met again on Raw — only this time it wasn’t just the WWE Title at stake. By the decree of General Manager Eric Bischoff, the showdown was dubbed a “You’re Fired” Match with the loser of the bout receiving their pink slip.
It was clearly a make-or-break situation for Cena, but those are the conditions in which the unstoppable Superstar thrives. Coping with both his cagey opponent’s underhanded tricks and the outside interference of Bischoff, Cena managed to rocket Jericho into the former WCW honcho before powering the nefarious Superstar onto his shoulders and to deliver a devastating Attitude Adjustment. It was enough to put Jericho away and as the Cenation leader celebrated his victory, the bout’s hapless loser was dragged kicking and screaming out of the arena by security guards. He would not be seen again in WWE for more than two years.
#37 John Cena, The Undertaker & DX vs. CM Punk & Legacy: Smackdown (Oct. 2, 2009)
WWE fans knew the main event of the decade of SmackDown celebration was going to be huge, but this was downright epic. Billed as the biggest Eight-Man Tag Team Match in the history of the blue brand, this rumble pitting the dream team of John Cena, The Deadman, Shawn Michaels & The Game against CM Punk, Randy Orton, Ted DiBiase & Cody Rhodes lived up to the hyperbole.
Only days away from meeting Randy Orton in a Hell a Cell Match, Cena teamed with two men he has faced at WrestleMania and a Superstar he clashed with multiple times early in his career. Clearly this uneasy alliance could have crumbled at any moment in the match, but the WWE greats worked together to fend off their vicious opponents. In the end, it was The Deadman who scored the victory with a Tombstone, but it’s the the star power alone makes this a must-see.
#36 John Cena vs. Wade Barrett: WWE TLC 2010 (Dec. 19, 2010)
More than six months had passed since Wade Barrett’s Nexus had stormed Raw for the first time, blowing the winds of change in WWE. John Cena’s attempts to end the Nexus’s reign of terror had proved to be ultimately unsuccessful, and he even lost to Barrett at WWE Hell in a Cell, forcing him to join the group.
With Cena’s WWE fate in Barrett’s hands, The Nexus leader fired Cena when he failed to win the WWE Championship from Randy Orton. But with Cena no longer an active member of the roster, he was free to attack Barrett as he pleased, which led the arrogant Brit to agree to a Chairs Match against Cena at WWE TLC. After laying out Barrett with a brutal Attitude Adjustment onto rows of steel chairs in the ring, Cena led his opponent to the entrance area and let loose a string of steel chairs attached to the event’s set, symbolically burying Nexus’s half-year domination of WWE.
#35 John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar: Backlash 2003 (April 27, 2003)
John Cena and Brock Lesnar squared off in a shockingly brutal contest at Extreme Rules 2012. But the palpable animosity of that night had been birthed nine years prior during their physical 2003 rivalry, which exploded in a WWE Title Match at Backlash that year.
Still early in their respective careers, both Superstars were out to prove they were the future of WWE and engaged in a vicious bout rivaled only by their match in 2012. Battling in and out of the ring, the powerful competitors traded momentum with neither securing a clear advantage. With no victory in sight, Cena attempted to take the WWE Champion out with a chain. The official stopped the Cenation leader, which allowed Lesnar to nail a massive F-5 to retain the WWE Title. Although unsuccessful, Cena proved that he could compete with a hulking powerhouse like Brock Lesnar.
#34 John Cena vs. The Undertaker: Vengeance 2003 (July 27, 2003)
Most Superstars begin their careers in the shallow end of the pool, but John Cena jumped right into the deep end. Battling highly skilled veterans like Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle in his earliest matches, the confident competitor found his gravest challenge in The Undertaker.
Facing The Last Outlaw in Denver’s Pepsi Center, the young Cena brought the fight to the veteran and battered him with such force that The Undertaker appeared to suffer internal injuries. The chain wielding competitor even blasted The Deadman with an Attitude Adjustment, but it wasn’t enough to stop the WWE icon. Catching the future WWE Champion off guard, The Undertaker flattened Cena with the Last Ride to win the bout, but it was clear that The Demon from Death Valley’s will had been tested.
#33 John Cena vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Edge: Raw (July 3, 2006)
What made Edge one of John Cena’s greatest rivals was the fact that The Rated-R Superstar was everything that the Cenation leader was not. Cena was loyal and Edge was a turncoat. Cena was PG and Edge was rated R. Cena was honest and Edge was an opportunist. These disparities were very clear on the July 3 Raw when Edge inserted himself into John Cena’s WWE Title opportunity against Rob Van Dam.
Finally receiving his rematch after losing the WWE Championship to RVD in front of a hostile New York City crowd at ECW One Night Stand, the Cenation leader was on his way to winning the title. After nailing the champion with a blistering Attitude Adjustment, Cena was ready to make the cover when The Ultimate Opportunist smashed him with the WWE Championship. The brutal shot knocked Cena out and allowed Edge to cover RVD to steal the title.
#32 WWE Championship Elimination Chamber Match: New Year’s Revolution 2006 (Jan. 8, 2006)
John Cena’s first foray into the Elimination Chamber may have been his toughest. Faced with five other Superstars gunning for his WWE Title, Cena was at the ultimate disadvantage.
In the end, Cena found himself trapped in the steel structure with Chris Masters and Carlito, who formed an alliance to clear out most of the other competitors in the Chamber Match, including Shawn Michaels, Kane and Kurt Angle. However, their desire to hold the WWE Championship did them in, as Carlito low-blowed The Masterpiece and rolled him up to eliminate his former ally. Unfortunately, Carlito also turned his back on Cena in the process, allowing the WWE Champion to roll him up to retain his title.
#31 John Cena vs. Edge vs. Big Show: The 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania (April 5, 2009)
The sight of dozens of John Cena lookalikes marching to the ring before this Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship Match at the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania sent a message to WWE fans that this bout was going to be something special.
With The Rated-R Superstar’s WWE Title up for grabs, Cena was not necessarily the focus of the match. A bizarre love triangle between Edge, The World’s Largest Athlete and Vickie Guerrero had taken center stage in the heated buildup to this match, but Cena grabbed the spotlight at the end of the bout. In a moment which has become one of the defining images of the 10-time WWE Champion’s career, Cena hoisted the combined 600-plus pounds of both Edge and Big Show onto his shoulders en route to victory. Not since Ken Patera bent a nail with his thumb has a display of power been so impressive.