One of the most longed-after dream matches in WWE has to be “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs John Cena. Both men represent totally different eras in wrestling with their characters possessing almost opposite ideals to one another, despite being the top stars in the company.
John Cena represented a new generation in wrestling – one that brought back the era of superheroes and extolled the virtues of hustle, loyalty and respect, refusing to give in to evil no matter what.
Meanwhile, Steve Austin was the biggest name during the Era of Attitude in WWE. He didn’t care what anyone thought about him (especially not former WWE Chairman Vince McMahon) and his beer drinking, loudmouth redneck attitude made him the polar opposite to Cena. This is what makes this such a dream match, seeing such juxtaposing wrestlers battling inside the ring.
While we know John Cena vs Steve Austin was not a match that ever happened in WWE, did the two icons step inside the ring and face off, even just for the one time?
Steve Austin vs John Cena
Sadly for WWE fans, John Cena never wrestled Steve Austin in an official wrestling match. Two of the biggest stars of their generation never crossed paths in the ring and we never got to see the dream match between two of WWE’s greatest ever stars.
However, this was for good reason. John Cena did not debut in WWE until 2002, when he interrupted Kurt Angle during an open challenge to throw his hat in the ring as the future star of WWE. Boasting his “Ruthless Aggression” as his defining characteristic, he put in a good performance against the WWE Hall of Famer but would ultimately lose his first match.
It would take a few more years for Cena to progress up the ladder and become a main eventer in the promotion. This would not match up the schedule of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, who had a difficult 2002 before retiring from the business just a year later.
Steve Austin walked out of WWE on Raw in June 2002, which looked to end his WWE career. He was unhappy with the way WWE was going creatively, being unhappy with his proposed loss to Brock Lesnar in a King of the Ring qualifying match. While he didn’t to losing to Lesnar, he instead wanted it to mean something and would have rather lost to The Beast on a built up match on Pay Per View.
He left WWE and stayed at home for a number of months, sitting out the rest of 2002. He would return in 2003 to set up his final match against The Rock at Wrestlemania XIX, where he would lose in his last match in WWE for 20 years.
Austin would come out of retirement in 2022 for one last match, although it was not against John Cena. Instead, he was goaded into a final outing by Kevin Owens, and the pair wrestled in a No Holds Barred match in the main event of Wrestlemania 38 Night One.
However while Steve Austin vs John Cena never happened in a WWE ring, the pair did face off just one time in their long careers. At Tribute to the Troops 2003, John Cena faced off against giant superstar The Big Show in a special singles match. Cena had progressed onto his rapper gimmick, which helped him grow to the biggest star in WWE before reverting to his military-inspired persona.
After defeating The Big Show, John Cena was confronted by Steve Austin. Cena had rubbed The Rattlesnake the wrong way with his antics during the match, including his pre-match rapping that disrespected his opponents. Due to his actions, John Cena ate a Stone Cold Stunner from Austin to send the troops home happy.
While this wasn’t a super memorable moment, it is one of the few times two of WWE’s biggest legends have interacted inside the ring. It’s a crying shame that we never saw them face off inside the squared circle and it just adds to the list of WWE Dream Match That Never Happened.
Who would win in a John Cena vs Steve Austin match? Let us know in the comments or click below to read about Matt Cardona and Chelsea Green
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.