John Cena recently returned to WWE for his 20th Anniversary in wrestling, and the WWE Universe payed him a tribute fitting for one of the greatest wrestlers of all time.
Amongst a list of John Cena’s best moments are 16 incredible World Champion reigns, making him the joint most successful world champion in WWE history. He is matched only by Ric Flair, a man who is widely considered to be the greatest wrestler of all time.
His career ban exactly twenty years ago, when a young upstart Cena interrupted Kurt Angle, answering his open challenge with the declaration that he possessed the “Ruthless Aggression” required to be a star in WWE. Despite his best efforts he lost the match, but one thing was clear – John Cena was a star for the future.
It was not an easy ride, however. He went through some questionable gimmicks, even being almost fired at one point, but his hard work and resolve shone through. He grew to become the biggest star in the company in years, heralding WWE into the “network era” of wrestling with some fantastic performances and huge star power.
He has since slowed down in the ring since winning his sixteenth world championship, taking on a part-time role in WWE amid his increasingly popular movie roles in Hollywood. However, John Cena always returns to WWE and has no intention of retiring from the ring and wants to add to his already impressive twenty years in the ring.
In this article we’ve analysed his career and picked out 5 of John Cena’s best moments in his twenty year career with WWE, looking at the most memorable, most exciting and most shocking moments to get the fans out their seat and cheering one of two phrases – “Let’s go Cena” or “Cena Sucks”.
John Cena’s best moments
5. John Cena vs Rob Van Dam at ECW One Night Stand
The concept of the Money in the Bank was still new when Rob Van Dam won the briefcase at Wrestlemania 22. Just as Edge had done earlier that year, he set out to face WWE Champion John Cena for a shot at the belt, but did so very differently than his predecessor.
Being the good guy that he was, RVD wanted to give John Cena more of a chance than Edge did. The Rated-R Superstar attacked Cena after a gruelling Elimination Chamber match and stole the title from him, in a match that just missed out of the list of the best John Cena moments.
Rob Van Dam wanted to do things more honourably. However, that did not mean not taking as much advantage of the situation as possible. He decided the match was going to take place at the second ECW One Night Stand in 2006, in front of a rabid crowd of ECW fans baying for John Cena’s blood.
The crowd in the Hammerstein Ballroom were the most anti-Cena crowd WWE has ever seen. They booed his every move, spat at him, even threw his t-shirt back at him when he tried to give it to a member of the audience. One fan even brought a sign that read “If Cena Wins, We Riot”, a sentiment which was almost certainly true.
Luckily for everyone (ironically, including John Cena), Rob Van Dam beat John Cena after a little help from Edge, to win his first (and only) world championship in WWE. The crowd that night were one of the greatest crowds of all time and made Cena look downright uncomfortable as he felt the vitriol aimed at him from all corners.
Even thought RVD would not hold the belt for long and Cena would soon taste WWE Championship again his loss to Rob Van Dam is one of John Cena’s best moments in his WWE career.
4. Losing to Brock Lesnar at Summerslam 2014
Few matches have shocked the wrestling world as much as John Cena vs Brock Lesnar at Summerslam 2014.
John Cena was in classic “Super Cena” mode and had just become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. He recently won a ladder match at Money in the Bank to acquire the championship vacated by Daniel Bryan, who had recently had to take a year off due to neck injuries.
Meanwhile, Brock Lesnar was fresh off the biggest win of his career, and maybe WWE history. At Wrestlemania 30 he made history by defeating The Undertaker, ending his illustrious Wrestlemania streak and writing his name in the history books for all to see.
This set up a huge clash between WWE’s top two stars at the top of their game. Fans were expecting an explosive match which could rival CM Punk vs Brock Lesnar the year prior, but nobody left the arena that night seeing what they had expected to go down in the main event.
When the bell rang in the match, Brock Lesnar began to suplex John Cena. He then continued his assault, hitting the WWE Champion with suplex after suplex after suplex. It made for uncomfortable viewing, with some fans visibly sickened by what they were watching.
The assault did not end until Lesnar hit Cena with an F5, pinning him and becoming the rightful WWE World Heavyweight Champion. It was one of the most shocking matches in history, with the seemingly invincible John Cena dominated like nobody had ever seen before.
The sheer predictableness made this one of John Cena’s best moments in his career, but still only ranks in at number four on this list.
3. Once in a Lifetime
When John Cena and The Rock faced off at Wrestlemania 28, one of WWE’s biggest matches and biggest dream matches came true.
Two icons of their own generation faced off in a Wrestlemania main event, mirroring The Rock’s own inter-generational bout against Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania X-8. Cena was outspoken about The Rock leaving WWE to make it in Hollywood, while Rocky criticised Cena for being unable to step into his shoes in his absence.
In one of the best moments in John Cena’s career, the 16 time champion stepped out in Miami (home of The Rock) to face one of the all time great WWE superstars on the grandest stage of them all – Wrestlemania 28.
The match was everything it needed to be, as the two former WWE Champions locked horns in a match of epic proportions. The event due millions of eyes onto WWE and made Cena a bigger star in the view of the fans, even when he was defeated by his nemesis.
The pair would main event Wrestlemania the following year with Cena getting his win back. However, nothing can compare to the magic of the first bout and it will forever be included on the list of John Cena’s greatest moments.
2. CM Punk match in Chicago
John Cena’s best match in his career came at Money in the Bank in 2011, where thousands of Chicago natives watched CM Punk steal the WWE Championship from right under John Cena’s nose and run out on the WWE, in one of WWE’s most exciting storylines ever.
CM Punk was intending to leave WWE after his contract ended, just after Money in the Bank 2011 in his hometown of Chicago. He was facing John Cena, then WWE Champion, in the main event of the show with Cena expecting to send Punk out of the company with a big loss to his record.
However, weeks prior CM Punk cut his famous “Pipebomb” promo, speaking to a generation of fans who felt unheard in WWE, and changed the landscape of wrestling before him. Punk instantly gained mainstream attention and became WWE’s most famous wrestler almost overnight.
This changed their match at Money in the Bank greatly. The crowd were comparable to One Night Stand and were incredibly pro-CM Punk and anti-John Cena. In an incredibly unexpected turn, CM Punk won the WWE Championship by defeating Cena (despite interference from Mr McMahon) before running off into the crowd with his title belt and into the streets of Chicago.
It was unexpected, crowd pleasing and led to one of the most interesting stories in WWE history.
1. John Cena’s Royal Rumble Return
John Cena’s best moment in his career was his surprise return from injury at the Royal Rumble in 2008. He was scheduled to be out of the ring until well past Wrestlemania 24, but returned months early and booked his ticket to Wrestlemania with a win in the biggest match of the year.
A torn pectoral suffered in a match with Mr Kennedy in 2007 put him on the shelf for what was expected to be up for a year. He was forced to vacate the WWE Championship, which he had held for a year at that point, and watch as fierce rival Randy Orton was handed the title and gloated over his injury.
Cena’s pectoral muscle was completely torn of the bone and was one of the most horrific injuries in WWE history. It is the same injury that Cody Rhodes suffered at Hell in a Cell, showing just how long he was to be expected out the ring. Returning at Wrestlemania seemed an impossibility, with the Royal Rumble being nothing but a pipedream.
However, John Cena never got the memo, and thus came the greatest moment in his career.
John Cena’s best moment came in the 2008 Royal Rumble match, when he entered at the number 30 spot to make his surprise return from injury, 6 months earlier than expected. He shocked fans, wrestlers and doctors alike when he appeared, better than ever, staring down Triple H who stood in the ring in disbelief at the ghost he had just seen walk out.
The pair were the final two men in the match. After a fight between the two, John Cena hit his signature AA move to eliminate Triple H from the match and win his first (of two) Royal Rumble match. The moment his music hit blew the roof off of the arena and has been cemented as not just one of John Cena’s best moments, but one of the greatest Royal Rumble returns of all time.