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The Complete History of the WWE Championship - Part 15

John Cena: A record 13 time WWE Champion
John Cena: A record 13 time WWE Champion

No one has won more WWE Championships than John Cena.

In that respect, Cena is in a class of his own. He has won four more WWE titles than any other Superstar in history. Triple H is next on the list with nine titles won.

Cena's WWE Championship collection began on April 3, 2005 and ended on February 12, 2017 when he lost to Bray Wyatt inside the Elimination Chamber.

In total, Cena has won 16 World Championships, the same number that WWE Hall of Famer, Ric Flair has officially held (in truth, Flair has won many more),

To a generation, Cena is the man most people relate when they hear the words "WWE Champion."

Cena is the millennium's version of Hulk Hogan and Stone Cold Steve Austin. However, interestingly he has not held in the same regard amongst the WWE Universe as those aforementioned gentlemen.

The reasons for this would appear to be twofold:

Cena became a star based upon his "Doctor of Thuganomics" gimmick in 2003. Initially a rib on Cena, the gimmick was based upon much-maligned white rapper, Vanilla Ice.

However, he found his voice with the persona and demonstrated an electric skill for rapping. However, when he won his first WWE title, this gimmick was quietly dropped after a few months and his character was altered to appeal to children, which negated his appeal to WWE's core audience.

Secondly was Cena's mechanical ring style. As Cena climbed the card on the pre-taped SmackDown, his in-ring limitations were cleverly hidden on the pre-taped broadcast. However, when he moved to RAW in 2005, he was exposed. Cena showed little improvement over subsequent years, which was a source of resentment with many of the fan-base.

However, despite these issues, Cena was a star; perhaps the final bonafide cross-over star WWE ever created. Like him or not, John Cena - WWE Champion had a ring to it.

This slideshow looks back at Cena's fourth, fifth and sixth WWE title reigns.

Previous entries in my series can be found here:

Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10, part 11, part 12, part 13 and part 14.


Randy Orton (June 15, 2009 - September 13, 2009)

Randy Orton: Reigned as champion throughout the summer of 2009
Randy Orton: Reigned as champion throughout the summer of 2009

Randy Orton had only lost the WWE Championship to Batista on June 7, 2009. However, he regained the belt eight days later after an injured "Animal" had vacated the belt on June 9, 2009.

Orton recaptured the title in a Fatal 4 Way Match on the June 15, 2009 episode of Raw, which also featured John Cena, Triple H and Big Show.

RKO immediately recommenced his feud with Triple H whom he had sidelined in the spring. Orton defeated The Game in a lacklustre Three Stages of Hell Match 2-1 at The Bash on June 28 before defending the belt successfully again via The Cerebral Assassin and Cena at Night of Champions on July 26.

Orton edged past Cena in a singles bout at SummerSlam after Ted DiBiase interfered in the contest when RKO was trapped in Cena's STF. The distraction proved pivotal. Orton RKO'd to defend his title.

Vince McMahon granted Cena one last opportunity at Orton's belt at the first (and only) Breaking Point pay per view on September 13, 2009. In an "I Quit" Match, RKO was finally undone by Cena and forced to quit, thus ending his fourth title run.

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John Cena (September 13, 2009 - October 4, 2009)

John Cena: Regained the gold from Randy Orton at Breaking Point
John Cena: Regained the gold from Randy Orton at Breaking Point

John Cena won his fourth WWE Championship from Randy Orton at Breaking Point on September 13, 2009.

It was a gripping battle between the pair who had feuded on and off since 2007. However, this title change was far from the end of their rivalry.

Cena defended the title versus Orton inside Hell in a Cell at the inaugural HIAC pay per view event on October 4, 2009.

Theirs was the second of three Hell in a Cell bouts on the same card. That was two too many and what was once a feud ending gimmick felt shoehorned into the Cena/Orton conflict before it was time. Their title encounter was lacklustre and the cell, in the PG era that began in August 2008 was not utilised very often in the bout.

Despite the lack of violence or bloodshed, there was a title change. Orton punted Cena in the head to win his fifth WWE Championship.

Cena's reign was over after just three weeks. However, Cena would receive a re-match with Orton just a few weeks later in an Iron Man match.

Randy Orton (October 4, 2009 - October 25, 2009)

RKO: Defeated John Cena inside Hell in a Cell
RKO: Defeated John Cena inside Hell in a Cell

The Hell in a Cell match.

That was the host of Randy Orton's fifth WWE Championship win. He was pitted against long time rival John Cena in the latest bout of their saga.

In truth, it was a largely unmemorable encounter and not a patch on Orton's Cell encounter with The Undertaker four years earlier at Armageddon 2005.

Despite the blandness of the contest, it was a significant win for Orton who defeated WWE's top Superstar clean as a whistle with his brutal punt kick. However, the long-term booking was less of a stature enhancer for Orton, His title win here appeared to exist to give Cena another Championship victory later that month.

RKO was champion again. However, his reign was to be as short lived as Cena's previous title run was.

He defended the strap versus Cena once more in an Iron Man match at Bragging Rights on October 25, 2009. Orton took a 4-3 lead when he electrocuted Cena with the stage lighting grid, but eventually succumbed 6-5 when he submitted to the STF, with just six seconds left on the clock.

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John Cena (October 25, 2009 - December 13, 2009)

John Cena: Regained the gold at Bragging Rights
John Cena: Regained the gold at Bragging Rights

John Cena defeated Randy Orton to retain the WWE Championship at Bragging Rights on October 25, 2009.

That was the feud ending collision between the rivals and the new WWE Champion moved on to a new challenge at Survivor Series the following month.

Cena's challenge was immense. He had to face both members of D-Generation X in what was billed as a Triple Threat Match.

If Cena feared he would be subjected to a two versus one assault, those worries were allayed when Shawn Michaels immediately superkicked his buddy Triple H out of the ring, just seconds into the bout.

Cena would ultimately win the contest and defend his belt by pinning Triple H.

His next challenger was a surprise. At TLC, Cena was pitted against six-month rookie, Sheamus in a Tables Match.

In a shock of monumental proportions, Sheamus nudged Cena through a table to win the WWE Championship. The finish appeared to be botched as Sheamus fell to the outside and Cena fell backwards through the table. Despite the out of nowhere ending, there was a new champion.

Cena's reign was over and Sheamus was the new WWE Champion.

Sheamus (December 13, 2009 - February 21, 2010)

Sheamus: Shocked the world in becoming WWE Champion
Sheamus: Shocked the world in becoming WWE Champion

When Sheamus won a Battle Royal on the November 23, 2009 RAW to earn a WWE Championship match with John Cena at the TLC pay per view, most expected this was because Cena needed a fresh opponent after a long feud with Randy Orton.

The inexperienced Sheamus would benefit from the exposure at the low-pressure December show, which usually is nothing more than a placeholder between the big shows, Survivor Series and Royal Rumble.

It was a shocker then, when Sheamus pushed Cena through a table to win their Tables Match at TLC, and the WWE Championship.

Sheamus had only made his Raw debut on October 26, 2009, just six weeks before TLC. He had only debuted as part of the main roster four months earlier than that on the ECW brand on June 30, 2009. Sheamus had climbed to the pinnacle of WWE in just six months; making him the second-fastest WWE superstar to do so, behind Brock Lesnar.

Sheamus was pals with Triple H and it would be The Game with whom he would clash at the following year's WrestleMania.

However, before that he managed to overcome Randy Orton at the Royal Rumble before dropping the belt back to Cena inside the Elimination Chamber.

The Irishman would not be separated from the gold for long though as the youngster would soon cement himself as a permanent headline fixture for years to come.

John Cena (February 21, 2010 - February 21, 2010)

John Cena: Reclaimed the WWE Championship in the Elimination Chamber
John Cena: Reclaimed the WWE Championship in the Elimination Chamber

John Cena had been parted from the WWE Championship for a whole two months when he entered the Elimination Chamber as one of five challengers to Sheamus's WWE Championship, along with Kofi Kingston, Triple H, Randy Orton and Ted DiBiase Jr.

Cena had become WWE's figurehead over the previous half decade and WWE wanted their top star to be part of the WWE Championship match at WrestleMania XXVI. The feeling in WWE was that Sheamus was not yet ready for that high pressure spot and the decision was made to exploit the star power of Cena and Batista, who had been WWE's second most significant main eventer during the past half decade.

Inside the chamber, Cena last eliminated Triple H to win a sixth title. It was a significant win. However, it was to be short lived as The Animal was granted an immediate title challenge to the exhausted new champion.

Batista speared Cena for the victory. Cena's title reign was one of the shortest in WWE history, lasting mere minutes. However, he would soon get his re-match in one of the most hyped encounters at WrestleMania XXVI, the following month.

Cena, would ultimately have the last laugh.

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Batista (February 21, 2010 - March 28, 2010)

Batista: Defeated Cena to win his final WWE Championship
Batista: Defeated Cena to win his final WWE Championship

Batista won his second and final WWE Championship from John Cena at the Elimination Chamber pay per view on February 21, 2010.

His title victory came in an impromptu encounter after Cena had won the strap in a gruelling Elimination Chamber match.

There were shades of New Year's Revolution 2006 when Edge had cashed in on Cena after had retained his belt inside the Elimination Chamber.

Batista's title win came with a change of attitude. The Animal turned heel and displayed hitherto unseen personality when he demanded a spotlight follow him around when he was cutting promos. He chastised the fans and portrayed himself as a Hollywood superstar; ironic as that is exactly what he would become a few years later.

His title reign was the most entertaining of his career. However, all good things must come to an end and Batista dropped the belt back to Cena in one of the main event matches at WrestleMania XXVI.

Batista would feud with Cena in rewarding rematches at Extreme Rules and Over The Limit in April and May before departing WWE for four years, briefly returning in 2014 and 2019 respectively.

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Edited by Alan John
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