June 30, 2012
#29 John Cena vs. Eddie Guerrero: SmackDown (Sept. 11, 2003)
Cena’s had his sights set on the United States Title from the second he entered WWE. He quickly drew the ire of champion Eddie Guerrero in the summer of 2003. Guerrero, ready to put the rookie in his place, challenged him to a Latino Heat Parking Lot Brawl.
Surrounded by a circle of cars and the SmackDown roster, Cena brought the fight to Latino Heat, viciously tossing him through a windshield and going after him with all sorts of weapons, including a lawnmower. However, the Guerrero mantra of “lie, cheat, steal” proved to be the difference, as Eddie’s nephew Chavo clocked Cena with a trash can lid. That set Eddie up for the Frog Splash on the hood of a car for the victory. While not his proudest moment, Cena definitely learned a lesson that would stick with him throughout his WWE career — watch your back.
#28 John Cena & The Undertaker vs. DX vs. Jeri-Show: Raw (Nov. 16, 2009)
Madison Square Garden has been WWE’s home base since the days when Bruno Sammartino dominated the scene, so it’s no surprise that the sports-entertainment empire goes all out whenever they return home. On a night where the always inflammatory Roddy Piper made his return to Raw, John Cena formed an unexpected alliance with The Undertaker to take on D-Generation X and Chris Jericho & Big Show in a Triple Threat Tag Team Match of epic proportions.
Unsure of his partner from the start, Cena admitted that he was starting to believe The Deadman was actually dead, but that didn’t stop the two powerhouses from rocking the ring. Holding their own against two more experienced duos, the Cenation leader and The Demon from Death Valley weren’t exactly pulling off Hart Foundation-style double-team maneuvers. They were more or less just hitting whatever was in front of him. That proved to be more than enough in the end as the fearsome Undertaker distracted The Game, allowing Cena to deliver an Attitude Adjustment to get the win for his team in The World’s Most Famous Arena.
#27 John Cena vs Batista: Extreme Rules 2010 (April 25, 2010)
John Cena found himself outmuscled once again in April 2010 at Extreme Rules. With a rabid Animal out for revenge after a WrestleMania defeat at the hands of the Cenation leader, Batista challenged Cena to a Last Man Standing Match for the WWE Championship. Determined to put his rival away for good, The Animal immediately tossed Cena around like a ragdoll, viciously hurling him through a barricade at ringside and sending him crashing through a table with a devastating spinebuster.
The Cenation leader quickly realized he would have to rely on his wits if he wanted to get the duke. He wore Batista down with the STF. The Animal managed to crawl to the corner in hopes of escaping. However, Cena had a plan to trap the powerhouse. He pulled a roll of duct tape from under the ring and wrapped it around Batista’s massive legs and the ring posts. The heavy-duty adhesive kept The Animal in place on the mat, unable to answer the referee’s ten-count, allowing Cena to retain his title.
#26 John Cena vs. Sabu: WWE vs. ECW Head to Head (June 7, 2006)
Only four days before John Cena was set to defend the WWE Championship against Rob Van Dam in Manhattan’s Hammerstein Ballroom, he faced off against another ECW Original at the unique WWE vs. ECW Head to Head event. Sabu, considered by many to be the one Superstar who most embodied the spirit of ECW, had debuted on WWE programming two days prior in anticipation of ECW’s relaunch on Syfy. On Raw, Sabu laid out Cena with a massive legdrop off the top rope during the champion’s contract signing with Rob Van Dam.
To say their battle at Head to Head was a contrast of styles would be the understatement of the century. Cena attempted to ground Sabu with his signature brawling tactics, while the unpredictable Arabian utilized his array of innovative aerial maneuvers. One mistake by the ECW icon landed him into Cena’s arms, and the champ nailed an Attitude Adjustment. A moment later, with the STF applied, the locker room emptied with WWE and ECW superstars storming the ring in absolute carnage. There might not have been an official winner, but this clash between the two company’s faces was one for the ages.
#25 John Cena vs. Edge: Backlash 2009 (April 26, 2009)
Of all the intense rivalries waged over a World Championship in the 2000s, the most bitter was between Edge and John Cena. At the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania, Cena defeated Edge and Big Show to win the World Heavyweight Title. One month later at Backlash, The Rated-R Superstar invoked his rematch clause and the rivals faced off in a Last Man Standing Match.
From the moment the opening bell sounded, Edge and Cena engaged in a brutal brawl. Each Superstar pulled out all the stops early in order to get their opponent down quickly. Two of the most resilient competitors in WWE history, the ring warriors battled in the ring, through the crowd and all over the arena. The bout could easily have gone all night, but as The Rated-R Superstar and Cenation leader traded blows on the entrance stage, Big Show appeared, grabbed Cena and slammed him through a spotlight at ringside. The interference from The World’s Largest Athlete prematurely ended one of Cena’s best brawls and cost The Champ his World Heavyweight Title.
#24 John Cena vs. Randy Orton: Breaking Point 2009 (Sept. 13, 2009)
John Cena’s “Never Give Up” motto was put to the ultimate test against longtime rival Randy Orton at Breaking Point 2009, where the Cenation leader challenged The Viper for the WWE Championship in a sadistic “I Quit” Match.
After leveling Cena with an RKO onto a steel chair less than one week earlier on Raw, the calculating Viper used all manner of vicious weaponry — including the steel steps and a TV monitor — to target Cena’s skull. Orton cruelly brought handcuffs into play to further incapacitate Cena, punishing his reeling challenger with a diabolical succession of strikes to the head and ribs with a Singapore cane. Nearly losing consciousness from the pain at one point in the bout, Cena ultimately persevered, and at the opportune time handcuffed WWE’s Apex Predator to himself and left The Viper with nowhere to go. Using the chain of the handcuffs to apply additional pressure on Orton’s neck and shoulder with the STF, Cena ultimately captured the WWE Title by making his opponent say the two words he himself has never said: “I quit.
#23 John Cena vs. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson: WrestleMania 28 (April 1, 2012)
When the book is written on John Cena’s career, his WrestleMania XXVIII showdown with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will be chronicled as a low point. That’s unfortunate, because, in many ways, this brawl in Miami’s Sun Life Stadium was the biggest match of the Cenation leader’s career. A calendar year in the making, the epic confrontation between the most charismatic Superstar of WWE’s hallowed “Attitude Era” and the face of the sports-entertainment company today had an energy surrounding it that hadn’t been felt since the night Hulk Hogan collided with Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III.
Entering as an outsider in front of The Rock’s hometown crowd, Cena looked to shrug off the pressure early as he matched The Great One move for move. But the 10-time WWE Champion’s confidence ultimately became his undoing. Arrogantly mocking The Rock’s People’s Elbow nearly half an hour into the bout, Cena left himself open for a Rock Bottom, which the “Fast Five” star executed with thundering accuracy.
#22 John Cena vs. Triple H: Night of Champions 2008 (June 29, 2008)
The Cenation leader was in a unique predicament heading into Night of Champions in July 2008. WWE Champion Triple H had been sent to SmackDown in that year’s WWE Draft, meaning that the red brand would be without a world champion if Cena did not beat The Game in their showdown. Cena had defeated Triple H once before, forcing him to tap out at WrestleMania 22, but things were different this time. The Cenation Commander-in-Chief was the challenger and he had the added pressure of bringing the championship back to Monday nights.
Luckily for Cena, The Game was hobbled early after landing awkwardly on his knee, which gave the Raw Superstar a target. He went to work on The Cerebral Assassin’s leg, trapping him in multiple STFs. Triple H refused to tap out this night, though, getting back to his feet and regaining control of the match. Cena fought out of The Game’s submission hold and attempted to deliver an Attitude Adjustment, but Triple H elbowed his way out and laid out Cena with a Pedigree to retain the title and even the score.
#21 John Cena vs. Kurt Angle: No Way Out 2005 (Feb. 20, 2005)
In 2005, the Cenation leader had an opportunity to challenge for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 21, but there was one major obstacle standing in his way — Kurt Angle. Since his debut against Angle in 2002, Cena struggled to best the Olympic gold medalist in singles competition. But at No Way Out 2005, the stakes could not have been higher.
The two rivals had a history of giving each other everything and then some and their battle in Angle’s hometown of Pittsburgh, Pa., did not disappoint. Both Superstars traded momentum throughout the contest, both trying on numerous occasions to take the other out with their respective finishing maneuvers.
In the three years since his debut, Cena had clearly grown as a competitor and Angle’s frustration was obvious. In an attempt to stop the future “Champ” once and for all, the Olympic gold medalist tried to use Cena’s own steel chain against him. Instead, Angle received an Attitude Adjustment and the Cenation leader secured his first WWE Championship Match on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
#20 John Cena vs. JBL: Judgment Day 2005 (May 22, 2005)
Following his WWE Title loss to John Cena at WrestleMania 21, JBL had a chance to redeem himself against The Champ in an “I Quit” Match at Judgment Day. His strategy was simple, overpower and beat Cena until he couldn’t take anymore. But winning the WWE Championship on The Grandest Stage of Them All gave Cena a newfound confidence, which was clear as he entered the ring on the flatbed of a tractor-trailer with a DJ playing his entrance theme.
The contest itself was brutal, cementing a character trait of Cena’s that he rarely receives credit for – he is one of the toughest Superstars ever. Neither competitor maintained any advantage for long as Cena put JBL through an announce table, but the financial guru countered with a devastating steel chair attack. The battle raged all over Minneapolis’ Target Center and both men refused to throw in the towel. Eventually, JBL’s own strategy of beating his opponent into quitting backfired and in order to save himself from the wrath of a steel-pipe wielding Cena, the New York native quit and the Cenation leader proved to be a true champion.