5 WWE matches featuring John Cena that deserve more praise

Cena vs. Umaga from WWE Royal Rumble 2007
Cena vs. Umaga from WWE Royal Rumble 2007
Arpit Shrivastava

John Cena is a name that is synonymous with WWE. Even those who aren't fans of the product know who he is and the wide-reaching success he has achieved as a pro-wrestler. It had become clear by 2004 that WWE would be building up John Cena to become the face of the company. After winning his first WWE Championship in 2005, Cena remained a decisive figure in WWE as a large section of the fan base rejected the company's attempts to make the viewers sympathize with Cena. However, by the mid-2010s, Cena had gained the moniker of 'Super Cena' as he could wrestle a good match with just about any kind of performer. A record-setting 16-time WWE Champion, Cena has had countless memorable feuds and bouts over the years that have stayed with the fans.

On the other hand, some of Cena's finest offerings have been forgotten with time. Though these matches were well-regarded when they took place, they seemingly flew under the radar due to one reason or another. While some of these clashes were a part of lackluster feuds, others took place randomly with minimal buildup.

That being said, let's take a look at five John Cena matches in WWE that deserve more praise from fans and critics alike.

#5 John Cena vs. Randy Orton (WWE Hell in a Cell 2014)

It's hard to pinpoint just how many times Randy Orton and John Cena have wrestled in a WWE ring. Both of them have been life-long rivals. There are many instances where their styles didn't mesh well, which resulted in several matches that were simply painful to sit through. Among a sea of unimpressive bouts that these two wrestled, their particular clash from WWE Hell in a Cell 2014 is a stand-out and easily the most underrated one of them all. For a change, this match was not for the championship but to determine the number one contender for Seth Rollins' WWE Championship.

Instead of putting them in the main event, WWE wisely put this match right in the middle of the show, and as a result, Cena and Orton benefited from the lack of any pressure. Despite being the heel in the match, The Viper was widely cheered, while Cena was resoundingly booed by the fans.

While the match has countless amazing spots, the best one was during the end when Cena delivered a Super Attitude Adjustment to Orton from the middle rope onto the table to secure the pinfall victory. For the detractors of their feud, this match is a must-watch, as it proved to be an eye-opener regarding what Cena and Orton can achieve together in the squared circle.

#4 John Cena vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Edge (WWE RAW - July 3, 2006)

When one thinks about great three-way matches featuring John Cena, Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins vs. John Cena from WWE Royal Rumble 2015, and Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H vs. John Cena from Survivor Series 2009 come to mind. However, John Cena's triple threat clash against Edge and Rob Van Dam is one of those matches that not many fans may remember, as it took place on a random episode of WWE RAW in 2006. Running for hardly 10 minutes, this sprint featured the then WWE Champion Rob Van Dam defending his title in a No DQ stipulation.

A couple of months ago, RVD had cashed-in his MITB contract for a match against WWE Champion John Cena at ECW: One Night Stand PPV. With the help of Edge's interference, RVD captured the championship. The stage was set for all three stars to collide against each other.

While it's still head-scratching why WWE would give away this match on RAW, it was nonetheless a terrific bout that saw RVD and Cena join hands in the initial stages of the match to take out Edge. However, The Ultimate Opportunist was the smartest among the three as he hit Cena with a chair just after the latter star had delivered an Attitude Adjustment to the champion. Edge would then secure a pinfall victory over RVD to become the new champion.

This match certainly deserves more praise as it included a lot of great sequences in such little time. All the Superstars in the bout got their spotlight, though it was Cena who stood out the most for being the glue that held the match together.

#3 John Cena vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (WWE SmackDown - August 1, 2017)

An absolute dream WWE match by any standard, this match pitting John Cena and Shinsuke Nakamura is one of the best television matches in recent memory, and it has surprisingly been ignored by several fans since it took place. The bout went down on WWE SmackDown in 2017, and many fans were left wondering why the match wasn't given the kind of build-up and story that it deservingly needed.

However, the match was a 15-minute masterpiece that didn't feature a single wasted moment throughout its running time. The veterans of the business went all out and gave their best in the ring. A Superstar of Cena's stature didn't need to have such a great match on free TV, however, he chose to put over Nakamura after a grueling battle that elevated The King of Strong Style to unforeseen levels.

Nakamura and Cena in action
Nakamura and Cena in action

The reason why this match has probably been forgotten is that even after Nakamura scored such a massive win, his eventual loss to Jinder Mahal at SummerSlam 2017 ruined almost everything that was achieved through Cena and Nakamura's clash.

#2 John Cena vs. JBL (WWE Judgement Day 2005)

When someone talks about the John Cena and JBL's feud, the lackluster match at WWE WrestleMania 21 comes to mind. Though that bout saw Cena becoming the WWE Champion for the first time in his career, it was a very poor match where the two only traded punches and locks for the mere ten minutes that were allotted to them. The bout was such a huge disappointment that many had given up on Cena and JBL's feud and the fans didn't really care about their other matches.

However, just over a month later, at WWE Judgement Day 2005, the two wrestled in a brutal 'I Quit' match that is highly underrated among fans and certainly deserves re-evaluation. After getting hardly any time to have a good match at WrestleMania, both stars went for 22 minutes at Judgement Day and produced a bloodbath that saw both Cena and JBL dripping in blood for a long time in their clash.

The final few stages of the match included both of them taking the action towards the entrance area, where they continued to brutalize each other with a variety of creative moves. Cena retained his WWE Championship after JBL uttered 'I Quit' just after the former brought out a massive weapon to attack him. Much to the happiness of the crowd, Cena still went on to use the weapon even though the match ended.

#1 John Cena vs. Umaga (WWE Royal Rumble 2007)

The most underrated match of John Cena's incredible career is also one of the most under-appreciated matches in the history of WWE. John Cena took on Umaga for the WWE Championship at Royal Rumble 2007 in a 'Last Man Standing' match, after Cena retained his title in a forgettable match at the previous PPV, WWE New Year's Resolution.

At a time when Cena was being rejected by a large section of the fanbase, this bout proved to be a game-changer for him as he won a lot of praises for his performance. A lot of the credit for the match's success also went to Umaga, as the Samoan monster brutalized Cena with his amazing offense throughout the match, building sympathy for the champion in the process.

Just like the previous entry in this list, Cena bled profusely here. Cena proved again why people wrongly blame him for erasing the edginess factor from WWE. The ending of the bout was a tremendous finish as it saw Cena applying the STFU on Umaga and choking him with the ring rope to come up victorious. Though this match is widely appreciated by hardcore wrestling fans, it is a must-watch clash for every Cena fan as well.

Edited by Kartik Arry
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