Between March 2015 and May 2015, he retained his title against Dean Ambrose, Stardust, Bad News Barrett, Kane, Rusev, Heath Slater, Sami Zayn and Neville, and then he came face-to-face with someone who had never been seen on WWE’s main-roster programming: Kevin Owens.
On May 18, 2015, Owens – the NXT champion at the time – made an instant impression by taking out Cena with a Pop-Up Powerbomb before stomping on the United States Championship.
Looking back at his debut before he challenges Kofi Kingston for the WWE Championship at the 2019 Money In The Bank pay-per-view, Owens tweeted:
"4 years ago today, I showed up on Raw for the very first time.
"I’ve accomplished a lot since then but tomorrow night at #MITB, I add one more accolade to the list by becoming @WWE Champion."
In this article, let’s take a look at the three biggest positives and three biggest negatives of Owens’ main-roster WWE career so far.
Most Superstars have to spend years in the WWE system to make their way to the top of the card before they even get an opportunity to face John Cena, never mind defeat him.
In Kevin Owens’ case, he carried on the momentum he gained during his eye-opening Raw debut by picking up a clean pinfall victory over Cena when the two champions met in a non-title match at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view in May 2015.
Although Owens, then known as “The Prizefighter”, had quickly established himself as one of the top names in NXT during his rivalry with Sami Zayn, this win over Cena was the moment that instantly catapulted him to main-roster stardom.
For the rest of the summer of 2015, Owens featured heavily on NXT, Raw and SmackDown, as well as WWE pay-per-views, as he cemented his status as one of the company’s top bad guys and stars of the future.