John Cena hit quite the milestone last year at WrestleMania XXIX. He had his 10th WrestleMania match and cemented his dominant run over the WWE in the last decade by defeating The Rock. Loved by many and hated by many, Cena has been the WWE’s biggest star for a long time and has been given many big matches at WrestleMania. Some have missed the mark, but for a guy who supposedly ‘can’t wrestle’, he’s had many great matches including a few classics at WrestleMania. Here are all 10 of his matches on the grand stage ranked from worst to best.
10) John Cena vs. The Miz (c) – WWE Championship – WrestleMania XXVII
Fans will always look back on this match and say to themselves, why the hell did The Miz main event a WrestleMania? They’ll ask a second question; how the hell did they have him beat John Cena? The only thing remembered about the feud for this match was The Rock and Cena beginning to take jabs at each other with The Miz being a very poor third wheel to the program. The only interest in this match was to see how guest host Rock would get involved.
The match itself never clicked from start to finish. A few near falls, a slow pace and not a lot of storytelling. The two just didn’t have any chemistry. It seemed the WWE was desperately trying to convince the crowd that the Miz belonged. The match appeared to end in a double countout, but The Rock used his authority as host to restart the match and proceeded to Rock Bottom Cena, costing him the match. It was an extremely dull ending. It just left a bad taste in people’s mouths to close the show; an extreme letdown after The Undertaker and Triple H put on a classic earlier in the night. It was a forgettable main event and looking back in history many will scratch their heads wondering how the Miz was booked to beat Cena. This match gets the lowest spot because bombing a main event leaves a far worse feeling than screwing up a lower midcard match.
9) John Cena vs. Big Show (c) – United States Championship – WrestleMania XX
We go back to Cena‘s first WrestleMania match almost 10 years to the day at WrestleMania XX. Cena challenged the Big Show for the US title in the opening match. It was a decent contest, but nothing we’ll be telling our kids about. Cena was in his white rapper phase and cut a promo before the match, mocking Big Show and getting the MSG crowd on his side, wearing a Patrick Ewing jersey.
The action lasted nine minutes. Big Show mostly dominated the match, suffocating Cena with holds and high impact moves. Cena got a few punches in late in the match and delivered the F-U (before it was called the Attitude Adjustment). Big Show kicked out and Cena went to hit Big Show with his steel chain. The referee saw him, so Cena tossed his chain across the ring, having the referee fetch it. With his back turned, Cena grabbed a pair of brass knuckles, whacked the Big Show and delivered a second F-U for the win. There wasn’t a whole lot to talk about in this match, but it was merely an opener so expectations were low and Cena was still a pup.
8) John Cena vs JBL (c) – WWE Championship – WrestleMania 21
This was the first of John Cena‘s 14 World Title wins. He was the new main event star trying to dethrone JBL, who had held the WWE Title for nine months going into WrestleMania 21. Much like the year before, Cena did not do a whole lot in this match, with JBL controlling most of the 11-minute affair.
Finally, Cena ducked underneath a clothesline, hit JBL with the F-U and began his dominant run to the top of the WWE. He celebrated with the LA crowd, but this match was overall a letdown. It didn’t help that they were following a dramatic Undertaker vs Randy Orton match and a clinic put forth by Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels. However, even standing alone, this was one of the more forgettable Cena title victories, despite being his first. Cena’s best work was still ahead of him.
7) John Cena vs Batista (c) – WWE Championship – WrestleMania XXVI
This one definitely had a big-match feel to it. The two biggest babyfaces of the Ruthless Aggression Era squaring off for the biggest prize. Batista began doing his best work after turning heel a few months prior to this program. The question seeping in was, who was the bigger star of their era? There was also doubt creeping in, as Batista had continuously been getting the upper hand on Cena. So naturally, Cena won this match.
It was a good call to put this match before the Undertaker/Shawn Michaels rematch. Still this match didn’t quite deliver. Cena’s and Batista’s styles never meshed well and it was painfully obvious Cena would win this match. Moments that spring to mind from this match include Cena’s Five-Knuckle Shuffle from the top rope. Each man then kicked out of the other’s finishing move. Cena reversed a Batista Bomb into an STF and forced Batista to submit. Overall a forgettable match.
6) John Cena vs. The Rock (c) – WWE Championship – WrestleMania XXIX
Putting a Cena vs. Rock match together was one of the greatest things the WWE did in years. They billed it as Once in a Lifetime at WrestleMania XXVIII and we ate it up. They then made a miscalculation in trying to make lightning strike twice.
Last year they gave us a rematch between the two, this time for the championship, with Rocky having beaten CM Punk at the Royal Rumble. The buildup to this second bout was lacklustre compared to the previous year. Whereas there was doubt as to who would win the first time, this time it was all but said outright that Cena would get his redemption and beat The Rock at Metlife.
Bell to bell, this match failed to capture the New York/New Jersey crowd. What followed was a slow-paced affair, with The Rock seemingly unable to match the conditioning of a full-time wrestler. The Rock tearing his pelvis halfway through the bout couldn’t have helped things. The match was basically a finishing-move fest, with both men kicking out of finishers multiple times. It was not thrilling, though. It was overkill and almost made the term ‘finishing move’ lose all its meaning. The match was too similar to their first bout. More should’ve been done to differentiate it from their previous showdown.
After three Rock Bottoms, a People’s Elbow and three AAs, Cena finally pinned The Rock and ended his two-year feud with The People’s Champion. The Rock then shook Cena’s hand and raised it in victory, much like Hogan did for him at WrestleMania X8. There was definitely a certain spark missing in this bout though.
5) John Cena vs. Big Show vs. Edge (c) – World Heavyweight Championship – WrestleMania XXV
A subpar build to this semi-main event delivered with a surprisingly entertaining match. The build revolved around SmackDown GM Vickie Guerrero inserting Big Show into the match to ensure her boyfriend Edge kept his title. It was revealed that Big Show had an affair with Vickie, driving a wedge in the alliance formed. Riveting.
The match consisted of Cena being double-teamed, but the alliance between Edge and Big Show didn’t last. Edge speared the big man through the guardrail outside the ring. Soon it was Cena and Edge trying to take out the Big Show. Triple threats are all about short-lived alliances and this one had plenty. In the highlight of the match, Cena showed massive strength, hoisting Big Show up for an AA. Edge tried to jump on them and break it up but Cena caught Edge as well. Edge rolled off the Big Show and Cena delivered the AA to the big man. Edge got up and was met with another AA by Cena on top of the Big Show. Cena covered Show and left Reliant Stadium as the new World Heavyweight Champion. Considering this match had to follow the heart-stopping Taker/HBK clash, it was very nicely executed by all three men. A solid effort.
4) John Cena vs. Triple H vs. Randy Orton (c) – WWE Championship – WrestleMania XXIV
There were a few good spots in this match, such as Orton performing a cross body to Cena while he was hoisted on Triple H‘s shoulders. There was Orton’s double DDT from the second rope to his two opponents.
The match ended when Triple H countered Cena’s F-U into a Pedigree. However, as Triple H went for the pin, Orton ran and punted Triple H in the head and subsequently covered Cena, retaining his title. It was a somewhat surprising result, as many expected Cena to cement his triumphant return from injury in late 2007 with a title win.
3) John Cena (c) vs. Triple H – WWE Championship – WrestleMania 22
After Cena’s disappointing performance against JBL the year before, he needed a big rub from a main eventer like Triple H and he got it. Even the entrances in this match were spectacular. Triple H coming to the ring dressed as a Conan-The-Barbarian type of king and Cena as a 1940’s Chicago gangster.
The two told a great story in the ring, as Cena couldn’t outwrestle the wrestler’s wrestler, Triple H for a strong majority of the match. When Cena finally gained momentum, Triple H used his signature sledgehammer to derail the underdog champion. Triple H threw everything at Cena but couldn’t put him away.
After a series of near-falls, Cena caught Triple H in an STF. After much drama, Triple H shockingly submitted. The reaction of the crowd was priceless, but the fact that The Game was so close to the ropes and tapped seemed a bit odd. Nonetheless, it was the signature WrestleMania win Cena needed to propel his career. This was a far better stamp of approval from the company and he did it by retaining his title.
2) John Cena vs. The Rock – WrestleMania XXVIII
You probably won’t see another match in your lifetime garner as much hype as this clash between John Cena and The Rock. The main event of WrestleMania XXVIII was announced a full year beforehand and fans got a huge payoff in The Rock’s hometown of Miami.
You wouldn’t call this 33-minute match a technical clinic, but the epic encounter, coupled with a Miami crowd that ate it all up and you have one of the WWE’s biggest WrestleMania moments in history.
The match was back-and-forth with several near falls. Cena spelled his own doom when mocking The Rock by going for a People’s Elbow, but The Rock was playing possum, storming to his feet and catching Cena with a Rock Bottom to get the 1… 2… 3! It was a nice surprise for the pro-Rock crowd in Miami and many around the world to see the legend come back and beat the company’s biggest star. This match particularly holds a special place in my heart because I was there live. WWE pulled off the highest grossing event in PPV history, with 1.217 million buys, and an $8.9 million at the gate.
1) John Cena (c) vs. Shawn Michaels – WWE Championship – WrestleMania 23
You can’t go wrong putting Shawn Michaels in a main event. The Showstopper always delivers at WrestleMania and he gave Cena one of the best matches of his life. A great spot in this match was Michaels hitting Cena with a rare piledriver on the steel steps.
They also went back and forth attempting finishing moves, with HBK missing the Sweet Chin Music several times and Cena unable to hit the F-U on multiple occasions. Michaels threw forward his fast-paced assault, but Cena was billed as the resilient champion and true to form, took everything HBK had.
Cena finally worked his way back into the match, delivering the F-U, but Michaels kicked out. Cena also slapped on the STF, but Michaels made it to the ropes. As both men staggered to their feet, Cena again managed to lock Michaels into the STF. This time, with Michaels in the middle of the ring being tortured with the hold, he tapped out.
The Ford Field crowd was behind the Icon all the way, but for the second year in a row, Cena again overcame a legendary veteran and a hostile crowd. With this result, fans knew Cena wasn’t going away anytime soon. This one left him as unarguably the face of the WWE.