John Cena, the former 12-time World Champion is one of the most successful, recognized and polarizing wrestlers in the history of wrestling. Making his debut almost ten years back in 2002, Cena nearly grabbed a win over Kurt Angle who was one of the biggest stars of that era. He kicked out of the angle slam and endured the ankle lock, but still ultimately lost to the Olympian. Cena had earned Angle’s respect and his impact was instant. He went on to rise in the wwe ranks and 2005 was the crowning moment of his career. After agonizingly coming second in the Royal Rumble match behind Batista, he later won a tournament to be named as the No 1 Contender to JBL’s WWE Championship at WrestleMania 21. The rest, they say is history as ‘The Doctor of Thuganomics’ went on to cement his legacy as one of the best of all time, with his numerous title reigns, feuds and matches over the years, none more so than the recent match against The Rock at WrestleMania 28 in Miami. It was one of the biggest matches ever in the history of wrestling and cemented Cena’s and The Rock’s legacy further than ever before. But was it one of Cena’s greatest matches ever despite the magnitude of the match?
4) John Cena vs WWE Champion Edge at Unforgiven, 2006 (TLC Match)
John Cena was already gaining a reputation of dividing crowds and was becoming very polarizing. But this wasn’t a polarized crowd. This crowd flat out hated Cena. The reason? It was Toronto. The hometown of Cena’s opponent and of his greatest ever rivals, the Rated R-Superstar, Edge. Despite the villainous nature of the cunning Edge, the crowd was fully behind him and endlessly jeered and booed Cena. To make matters worse, it was a TLC Match. The match which was pioneered by Edge and Christian in the early 2000s. To say that Cena was the underdog was an understatement. The match rocked back and forth match with both men taking as much punishment as they were giving out. Two of the brightest stars of their generation, they gave it their all and stole the show with one of most outstanding displays of their careers. John Cena in one of his very first, ‘Superman’ antics reclaimed the WWE Championship.
3) WWE Champion John Cena vs Rob Van Dam at ECW: One Night Stand, 2006
If Cena faced a hostile crowd at Toronto then there would be no words to describe this crowd’s hatred of him. It was totally anti-Cena with not a fan in sight and Cena’s shirt was also thrown back at him when he threw it to the crowd. They relentlessly tried to get on the champion’s nerves taunting him, ‘F*** you, Cena’, ‘You can’t wrestle’, ‘Same old shit’ etc. The match wasn’t a technical masterpiece from either Van Dam or Cena, but it simply cannot be ignored. The hatred and hostility that the superstar received is unlikely to ever be matched in any arena again. It unnerved Cena, who went on to lose his title to Van Dam after interference from Edge.
2) WWE Champion John Cena vs Shawn Michaels at Raw, 2007
John Cena had just defended his prestigious title against HBK at Wrestle Mania in an absolute classic of a match. But the match that followed on the April 23rd edition of Raw was in every way better than possibly imagined. The greatest all round wrestler in the history of wrestling, Shawn Michaels gave a classical performance that bellied his advanced age. The young champion was not to be intimidated, but rose up to the occasion in spectacular fashion before eventually being put to the sword by the veteran. It was a hour long grueling match up, the longest in Raw history and far and away the greatest ever match in Raw’s history. It was unimaginable that the WWE would’ve given away such a great match on free TV and they seemed to have learned from their mistake as we haven’t seen such a match since outside a PPV.
1) WWE Champion John Cena vs CM Punk at Money in the Bank, 2011
Cena was by now, no stranger to hostile crowds and knew what to expect at Punk’s hometown of Chicago. But, the reaction of pure hatred and relentless booing might’ve even had an effect on Cena. This match is arguably the biggest match on the list and had an extra significance to the result, as Punk’s contract was going to expire that night and he threatened to walk out of WWE with its most coveted asset. Under the pressure of colossal expectations, both men put up one of the greatest matches in WWE history. It received praises from critics all over and they called it one of the best matches in the WWE for a long time. It was given a perfect five star rating by the famous Dave Metzler magazine, the first WWE match to get such a rating in 14 years. Punk eventually won the match after the chaos caused by the interference of Mr. McMahon and John Laurinaitis and left the company with the title.