For almost the entirety of his 15-year career with WWE, John Cena has been accused of burying every single opponent he has stepped in the ring with. For anyone unfamiliar with the term, a burial in wrestling terminology refers to when one wrestler lowers the status of another wrestler in the eyes of the fans. This is most commonly done by defeating them in a match defiantly and/or consistently over a repetitive period of time. In that regard, it can be accurately argued that Cena has buried a good handful of wrestlers over the years. Even if buried is a strong word, he certainly has stunted the career growth for numerous WWE Superstars just by decimating them during in-ring competition in indisputable fashion. At the same time, let's not forget the few times where Cena successfully put over another wrestler.
John Cena seldom loses his matches and for that reason, it makes his loses feel all the more important. When he finally does take a loss—especially when it is a clean loss—it makes the opponent who beat him look like a million bucks. It has become a running gag in the wrestling community to claim that Cena buries a lot of wrestlers, but rarely does anybody talk about those who Cena has put over and made stars out of by laying down for them. We can't talk about the wrestlers who John Cena has buried without talking about the wrestlers who John Cena put over. With that said, that is exactly what this list is for.
14 15. Buried: Umaga
One of the hardest things that a wrestler can try to do is try and bounce back after losing an undefeated streak. A formerly undefeated star's stock dramatically decreases as soon as the once unstoppable becomes stopped. Especially when after they lose their first match, WWE bookers figure that they can lose to anybody and everybody else on the roster. This was the unfortunate case for the late Umaga. The Samoan Bulldozer was on an absolute rampage when the character first appeared on Raw television. Debuting by demolishing 16-time World Champion, Ric Flair, he made an immediate impact by being the local savage of the Raw roster. After working as an enforcer for The McMahons against DX and racking up wins against the degenerate duo as well as Kane, Umaga challenged John Cena for the WWE Championship. First, at New Year's Revolution where Cena won with a lucky roll-up victory, then at Royal Rumble where Cena vanquished the beast once and for all in a Last Man Standing match. After taking his first losses, Umaga spent the next few months losing to everyone from Bobby Lashley to Batista to Jeff Hardy and even to Santino Marella. Umaga's star potential was shattered as he spent the rest of his career slumbering in the midcard.
13 14 . Put Over: Brock Lesnar
Everyone cites Brock Lesnar's historic win over The Undertaker at Wrestlemania as the definitive moment where Lesnar became WWE's main box office superstar, but he didn't truly become that box office superstar until he defeated WWE's resident box office star, John Cena, at Summerslam 2014. Lesnar breaking The Streak was shocking, but it wasn't the dominant win that we'd expect today out of the mayor of Suplex City. At Summerslam, he demolished a man we spent the last decade watching as the face of WWE. It wasn't just the fact that Cena ate a pin from Lesnar that put The Conqueror on a new pedestal. It was the fact that Lesnar did so in such a one-sided fashion. After being protected for so long, no one expected Cena to take such a devastating loss and with his infamous reputation as a man who is handy with a golden shovel, many thought Cena would win. From the opening bell, Lesnar decimated The Champ and after Cena got little to virtually no offense throughout the match, Lesnar became the new WWE Champion in an undisputed victory.
This is probably the closest we'll ever get to saying that John Cena buried Jesus Christ. Hopefully. In late 2003, John Cena needed some time off to film The Marine and so in storyline, he was put on the shelf for a month after being stabbed in the kidney at a Boston nightclub by an unknown assailant. Upon his return, Cena's attacker was revealed to be Smackdown newcomer and Carlito's bodyguard, Jesús. For payback, Cena defeated Carlito for the United States Championship and then went on to successfully defend the title against Jesús in a Street Fight. Given that the match was Jesús' first WWE match and he was dispatched easily by Cena, it wasn't a good look for Jesús' character. It didn't help that Jesús couldn't recover from the loss as he was on the shelf himself shortly afterwards for sustaining a legitimate injury. Considering that Jesús was released before he could return to television, it made it look like Cena beat Jesús so badly that he kayfabe ran him out of town.
12 12. Put Over: Randy Orton
A big reason why John Cena and Randy Orton have been such prevalent career rivals is because Cena has been so willing to trade wins and losses with Orton. In fact, Orton has come out on top against Cena more often in singles matches on pay-per-view with a 6-3 winning streak against The Face That Runs the Place. That doesn't even factor in the multi-man matches featuring the 2 where The Viper slithered his way to frequent victories. Cena has even suffered his very first Wrestlemania loss at the hands of Orton. Orton pinned Cena in their Triple Threat match for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania 24. The foundation of Orton's success has been the fact that he has been able to do what so few people have done—defeat Cena—and has done so numerous times in the past.
11 11. Buried: Rusev
Much like with Umaga, Rusev suffering a loss to Cena after a long running undefeated streak is what dampened his momentum and credibility in WWE. It wasn't so much that Cena's Wrestlemania victory over Rusev hurt The Bulgarian Brute. After all, in their series of matches, Rusev won their first bout together at Fastlane. The burial came in the fact that Rusev went on to lose to Cena at back-to-back pay-per-views afterwards. The fact that Rusev had to lose three consecutive ppvs to Cena terribly hurt his aura as an unbeatable machine. It made Rusev look like someone who wasn't cut out for the main event scene given that he had spent 2014 dominating the midcard and as soon as he faced main event caliber stars like Cena and, later on, Randy Orton in 2015, Rusev struggled to come back from that. It didn't help that he followed up losing the feud with Cena to a sordid love triangle between himself, Lana, and Dolph Ziggler, who also beat Rusev on numerous occasions. Rusev never completely recovered from his crushing defeat against Cena until mid-2016 where his personality helped him shine passed his many losses.
10 10. Put Over: Sheamus
While thinking back to their many encounters over the years, there is a possibility that Sheamus has lost to Cena more times than he's won. However, more than anything, it is that first win over Cena at TLC 2009 for the WWE Championship that made Sheamus a mainstay in the main event scene. After spending time in developmental, Sheamus had only debuted on Raw's main roster on October 26th and when his first opportunity at the WWE Championship came to him at TLC in December, he succeeded. It helps a superstar's credibility to win big gold in their first crack at the main event and for Sheamus to do so in such a quick time made him look incredibly strong for a rookie. At 166 days, this marks the third shortest amount of time anyone has won a World Title since making their WWE debut. Even when Cena got his rematch on the final Raw of that year, he failed to win it back from Sheamus and The Celtic Warrior was able to hold on to the belt for the next couple months. Thanks to his initial win over Cena, Sheamus spent 2010 headlining ppvs, winning his 2nd WWE Championship, and defeating other stars like Randy Orton and Triple H. It still marks one of the best rookie years for any WWE Superstar.
9 9. Buried: Damien Sandow
When Damien Sandow won the Money in the Bank briefcase in the summer of 2013, most people expected big things from the Intellectual Savior of the Masses. Though he was still unproven on the main event scene, he spent his debut year showing himself to be a solid in-ring worker and an impressive mouthpiece. His first big challenge came when he cashed in his briefcase against Cena on the October 28th episode of Raw. With rumors that WWE were planning to unify Cena's World Heavyweight Championship with Orton's WWE Championship, few thought Sandow would win the title on this night. However, depending how WWE booked this match, Sandow could have possibly bounced back from his loss and entered the main event scene. Cena beat Sandow easily with a broken arm. Thus began Sandow's slump on the main roster where he went on a losing streak and his character was neutered. Not only neutered in that he lost much of the flair that made him standout among the roster—he traded pink trunks for black ones and stopped doing cartwheels—but he became a comedy jobber. Apart from a short comedy run with The Miz that ended with Sandow on the losing end of their feud, Sandow never recovered from his lost with Cena before being released in 2016.
8 8. Put Over: CM Punk
Over the years, CM Punk and John Cena have traded wins, but none were as important as their match from Money in the Bank. Not only because it turned out to be the first 5-star rated WWE match according to the Wrestling Observer since 1997, but because of the atmosphere and stakes which the match produced. Almost 15,000 attendees in Chicago's Allstate Arena were on their feet to see if their native son could topple Cena and make good on his promise to walk out of the company with the WWE Championship. Punk succeeded and in victory became a staple of WWE's main event scene for 3 years all the way up until his real life walkout on the company in 2014. He also got another win over Cena in their rematch at Summerslam, though under sketchy circumstances with Cena's foot on the rope during the pinfall. Regardless, the wins over Cena helped establish Punk as a serious main eventer and led to his historic 434-day long WWE Championship reign.
7 7. Buried: R-Truth
R-Truth's main event push in WWE during 2011 seemingly came out of nowhere. One minute, he was his normally annoyingly goofy self and the next minute, he was beating up John Morrison while sparking a cigarette on live television. Surprisingly, as hard as it may be to remember, R-Truth as a heel became the most entertaining aspect of Monday Night Raw on a weekly basis. After getting surprisingly over with the fans, he was booked in his first WWE main event against John Cena at the Capitol Punishment pay-per-view. As unbelievable as it would have been to think of R-Truth standing a chance at beating Cena for the WWE Championship, yet alone actually win, Truth at the very least needed to look strong enough in his first ppv main event to retain his presence as a main eventer. He didn't have to win, but he had to at least look strong in defeat. Cena won in as decisively a fashion as won could imagine. After being on the losing end of a few more ppv main events, including a Survivor Series main event with The Miz against The Rock and Cena, Truth was slapped with a 30-day suspension. Upon his return, he went back to being the goofy R-Truth that we've all come to know and love, or for some of us, loath.
6 6. Put Over: Daniel Bryan
The only thing rarer than John Cena losing is for Cena to lose and not get his win back at a later date. Even when he lost his first encounter with The Rock at Wrestlemania 28, an entire year long storyline was created just so that Cena could get his win back at Wrestlemania 29. However, when Daniel Bryan shockingly defeated Cena for the WWE Championship at Summerslam 2013, Cena never got his win back in a rematch; not even a rematch without a title on the line. Not having to lay down to Cena in return helped Bryan's star rise further as a result. He was already getting massive fan reactions for the past couple years. Now with a win over Cena, in with a brief title run, Bryan was a proven main eventer among WWE's elite. Not only that, but the win over Cena kicked off Bryan's year long feud with The Authority that led to his monumental main event win at Wrestlemania.
5 5. Buried: Wade Barrett
We also can use this entry to say that Cena buried the Nexus as a whole—in many ways, he did—but an argument can be made that Wade Barrett got the worst of it all on accounts that he had the brightest potential of the lot. Everything about Barrett screamed "main eventer." When the Nexus were still around, there even small rumors that Barrett could face The Undertaker at Wrestlemania if the group was still hot around Mania season. Oh, how the mighty had fallen and the mighty fell hard. After taking the final pinfall from Cena in the stable's Elimination Tag Team match at Summerslam 2010, Barrett went on to take several losses to Cena in the coming months. Most notably in the main event of TLC 2010 where Cena literally buried Barrett underneath a pile of chairs. By time Mania season rolled around, Barrett's credibility as a main eventer was destroyed. He was never able to pull himself back up from the midcard no matter how hard he tried and eventually, when 2016 rolled around, he asked for his release.
4 4. Put Over: Kevin Owens
During his entire career, Kevin Owens was told that he didn't have a look that was fit for a WWE Superstar. When he finally did join WWE in 2014, people still doubted that he would find success. Which is why his big win over John Cena at Elimination Chamber 2015 came as such a surprise. When he made his main roster debut—still holding the NXT Championship, I might add—he made an immediate impact by laying out the United States Champion and challenging him to a non-title match. Beating Cena in his first main roster match made Owens look like an instant main eventer. Even though Cena did get go on to defeat Owens at the next two pay-per-views, they weren't defiant wins. After Cena won at Money in the Bank, Owens was the one walking away after he beat down Cena when the match was over. Then, after tapping out at Battleground, Owens ensured that he only tapped out to fight another day, not because Cena made him. Because Owens was so well protected, he still looked strong in capturing the Intercontinental Championship a couple months later and then the Universal Championship, his first WWE World Title, the following year.
3 3. Buried: Ryback
In 2012 and early 2013, Ryback was one of the hottest acts on the WWE roster. A modern rehash of the Goldberg formula, Ryback didn't have to do much in the ring to bring the crowd on his side. He just had to dominate his opponents in swift fashion to get one of the loudest pops of the night every week. Even in failing to capture the WWE Championship from CM Punk in late 2012 and losing his first Wrestlemania match against Mark Henry later on, Ryback retained much of his popularity. That all changed when he turned heel and challenged John Cena for his WWE Championship. To be fair, the heel turn hurt Ryback more than losing to Cena did given that turning heel called for Ryback to put in more work in areas he was generally weaker in—like promos and being the heater in longer matches—but losing to Cena certainly didn’t help him. Though Ryback was protected in their first encounter as the two came to a Last Man Standing draw at Extreme Rules 2013, he went on to lose two straight falls in the rival's 3 Stages of Hell match at the next ppv, Payback. Failing to win the WWE Championship so many times when the spotlight was on him hurt Ryback's chances of ever being taken seriously as a main eventer. The poor booking eventually led to Ryback's 2016 release. It also plays a part into why Ryback has cited Cena recently as a "poison" to the wrestling industry.
2 2. Put Over: AJ Styles
For all the illustrious accomplishments which AJ Styles made around the world, he was still unproven in WWE when he entered the company in 2016. That all changed after a series of wins against John Cena. When their feud first began, Styles needed the win. His star aura was starting to fade as he was right off the heels of losing his first WrestleMania match to Chris Jericho and failing to capture the WWE Championship from Roman Reigns at back-to-back pay-per-views. One heel turn later, he was ready to beat up John Cena and he did just that with a win over the Leader of the CENAtion at Money in the Bank. Granted, thanks to interference from The Club, Styles' win looked less than legitimate, but he made up for it with a clean win against Cena at SummerSlam. With that win, Styles finally rose to prominence among the WWE roster and won the WWE Championship the following month at Backlash. While Cena did get a win of his own over Styles in a 6 Man Tag Match at Battleground, he never beat Styles in singles competition. Not to mention that at No Mercy, Styles pinned Cena a 3rd time in a Triple Threat. All of these wins against Styles helped mold him as a bonafide WWE main eventer and the Champ That Runs the Camp.
1 1. Buried: Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt had the potential of being a huge main event player ever since he first arrived in WWE. He had a unique aura about him thanks to some gripping promos that made him standout as he was slowly making a meteoric rise to the top. Wyatt's star came crash landing down to near obscurity when he first came face to face with John Cena. When the two had a feud where Wyatt basically tried to lure Cena to the dark side, everyone watching knew that wasn't going to happen any time soon. Not only did Wyatt fail to produce a John Cena heel turn, he failed in winning his matches and feuds with John Cena in 2015. From then, Wyatt lost every main event caliber feud he found himself in for next few years. From Chris Jericho to Undertaker to Roman Reigns and so on, Wyatt always came on the losing end when it mattered most. Wyatt has only just now been able to recover from so many of his embarrassing defeats now that he's a member of the Smackdown roster—it helps that he was able to sway Randy Orton into his Family clan to give Wyatt some much needed credibility—but man. The last few years have been some dark years for Bray Wyatt after losing his feud to Cena.
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