John Cena has main evented 5 Wrestlemania shows and is considered one of the best, and most polarizing, wrestlers in the history of WWE. Whether he was booed or cheered, nobody ever got bigger reactions from the WWE Universe than The Champ John Cena.
From Wrestlemania 20 all the way through to (hopefully) Wrestlemania 39, John Cena has wrestled in the biggest matches at Wrestlemania for twenty years. His career has taken him on a collision course of the top stars in WWE history, such as Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker and The Rock.
The Champ has wrestled thirteen times at The Grandest Stage Of Them All. He competed at eleven straight Wrestlemania shows, from his debut against The Big Show at Wrestlemania XX to his battle with Rusev at Wrestlemania 31. The next year he missed out on the show due to injury, then transitioned into a part-time schedule that has seen him star in numerous Hollywood projects. Most notable of them is the lead in the Peacemaker series, playing the character of the same name.
His last Wrestlemania match is one of two matches. Some consider his bout with The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 34 his last match at the prestigious event. He had been calling out the legendary Deadman for weeks in the run up to the match, with no response. Let down that he had no plan for the show, he bought tickets and hung out with the fans, watching along with them.
However, The Undertaker appeared during the show to finally wrestle Cena, putting on a dream match for Ruthless Aggression era-fans. Their match lasted under 5 minutes and was a disappointing encounter, despite the star-studded nature of the bout.
The other match that others consider his last Wrestlemania match is the “Firefly Funhouse” match against Bray Wyatt. It wasn’t a match per say, more like an extended cinematic segment that proved to be a character dissection of the man behind John Cena. It was excellent viewing but not what some would call a match.
John Cena main evented Wrestlemania 5 times in his career, the same amount as Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker. In this article, we’ll look at those 5 matches and rank John Cena’s Wrestlemania main events from the worst the best while looking at the match ratings from the Wrestling Observer and from the users at Cagematch.net.
John Cena Wrestlemania Main Events
Wrestlemania 27 – The Miz vs John Cena
The worst of John Cena’s Wrestlemania main event matches has to be his encounter with The Miz at Wrestlemania 27. The Miz won the WWE championship in November 2010 by cashing in the Money in the Bank contract on Randy Orton. Shockingly, he managed to keep it long enough to main event WrestleMania XXVII against John Cena.
However, the match wasn’t about John Cena vs The Miz. The champion wasn’t built up as a man who could defeat Cena on the biggest show of the year. He struggled to put away Jerry Lawler, a commentator, a few months prior and wasn’t treated on the same level as John Cena. Despite his incredible video package prior to the match, there was no contest between the two men.
That wasn’t the issue though. The match was plainly only used to build up to next year’s Wrestlemania main event. It was simply a way to kick off a Cena vs Rock program, that would build from this event all the way through to the main event of Wrestlemania 28. The Rock had returned to company some weeks prior and was gearing up to wrestle his first match since 2004.
The match wasn’t horrible. It was a bog-standard Raw main event-level bout. The issue was, this wasn’t Raw. It was Wrestlemania. The only notable parts of the match is what made it bad. The first was The Miz being knocked out after smashing his head on concrete, as he and Cena brawled on the outside. The second was that the injury caused both men to be counted out – yes, the main event of Wrestlemania ended in a double count out.
The Rock then came out to restart the match and immediately hit John Cena with the Rock Bottom. The Miz pinned him, retained the title and walked out with the WWE Championship. Due to his concussion, he could not remember the match that was the high point of his career – in hindsight, lucky him.
Wrestling Observer Newsletter Star Rating – Not Rated
Cagematch.net Rating – 2.82
Wrestlemania 29 – The Rock vs John Cena
The second of the Rock vs Cena matches was weaker than the first in every way – except in the box office.
The match was worse than the Wrestlemania 27 encounter. This can be attributed to The Rock tearing his pec off the bone early on in the match. It was a formulaic match that tried to build on last years bout, but ultimately failed to make as much impact.
It did make more money though. Wrestlemania 29 had the highest buy rate of any WWE pay per view of all time, and with the advent of the WWE Network getting rid of the pay per view model, it is unlikely ever to be broken (unless the WWE bring pack pay per views once the company is sold).
Wrestling Observer Newsletter Star Rating – 3.5 Stars
Cagematch.net Rating – 5.37
Wrestlemania 22 – John Cena vs Triple H
John Cena was in a tough spot going into the Wrestlemania 22 main event. He was just establishing himself as a main event talent and walked into the event as the WWE Champion. However, the fans were not sure about him being the new face of the company.
Fans had begun criticising his in-ring ability. They claimed he “couldn’t wrestle”, mocked him for his five moves of doom and booed him ahead of more beloved wrestlers like Chris Jericho and Christian. He needed a big performance to silence the critics and the main event of Wrestlemania 22 was the perfect time to do it.
Even though the Chicago crowd were an extremely pro-Triple H crowd, both men put on a brilliant performance that ended Wrestlemania on a high. It was more novel back then than it is now but both men worked the crowd perfectly to help make the match even better than it had any right to be.
John Cena picked up the victory to announce himself as the new face of the company in a match that ranks number three on the list of John Cena’s best Wrestlemania main events.
Wrestling Observer Newsletter Star Rating – 3.75 Stars
Cagematch.net Rating – 7.26
Wrestlemania 28 – John Cena vs The Rock
The first of the two “Once in a Lifetime” matches was definitely the better of the matches, but only the second best match of Cena’s Wrestlemania main events. With a year long build culminating in the two behemoths of Sport’s Entertainment battling in The Rock’s hometown of Miami, there may never have been, or be again, a more highly anticipated match at Wrestlemania.
The two legends traded barbs throughout the year, both in person on Monday Night Raw and “Live, via Satellite”. The rivalry was intense and real, both men getting incredibly real with their insults as the tension between the pair became must-see TV on a weekly basis (well, when The Rock was available).
It was the first match The Brahma Bull had wrestled in 7 years – his last bout being a tag team match alongside Mick Foley at Wrestlemania 20. That also happened to be John Cena’s first Wrestlemania match, adding an extra layer of spice to their long-awaited encounter.
The match does have its detractors. It may have been too long. It may have had too many rest holds. The Rock may have been twice the size compared to his last match and could barely move around the ring. But none of that mattered when the crowd was that electric and The Rock was finally back wrestling in a WWE ring.
Much to the delight of the Miami locals, The Rock picked up the win after reversing a five-knuckle shuffle into the Rock Bottom, pinning Cena for the victory. This was only to set up a rematch the next year where The Champ would get his win back, but it was still a huge moment in wrestling history.
Wrestling Observer Newsletter Star Rating – 3.75 Stars
Cagematch.net Rating – 7.89
Wrestlemania 23 – John Cena vs Shawn Michaels
Triple H went down with an injury just before Wrestlemania 23. Well, thank god he did because otherwise we never would have got this gem between Shawn Michaels and John Cena. The Game and The Champ had put on a great match the year prior and were set to reignite their rivalry at Wrestlemania 23. However, injury struck and he was replaced by DX teammate Shawn Michaels who did battle with Cena for the WWE Championship.
In the build up to the event, the pair had become an “odd couple” tag team and despite all odds had become the World Tag Team Champions. It was a tumultuous relationship that ended with a superkick to the face of the WWE Champion and built up to a blockbuster clash at Wrestlemania.
The Wrestlemania 23 main event between John Cena and Shawn Michaels turned out better than anyone could have imagined. At the time, Cena was not seen as a good worker, not on the same level as the legendary Heart Break Kid. However, the duo put their best feet forward and wrestled for a mesmerising 28 minutes – the longest Wrestlemania match of John Cena’s career (although it pales in comparison to Shawn Michaels 60 minute iron man match with Bret Hart).
The leader of the Cenation forced Michaels to tap out to the STFU in a match that was one of his best matches ever. He came on leaps and bounds after this performance and started to prove to the WWE Universe that he deserved to be in the main event.
Wrestling Observer Newsletter Star Rating – 4 Stars
Cagematch.net Rating – 8.52