Dear, sweet John Cena. Whether you love to hate him or hate to love him, he’s had one heck of a history at WWE. Quickly slingshot to the Pay-Per-View main stage, The Champ has had an astounding amount of one-on-one singles matches with just about every major WWE Superstar of the century. (Yep, Triple H, Edge, and Big Show too). And since match numero uno, he’s proved himself as a solo star that can confidently carry the championship win while being an equally great L.O.Ser. And what makes his matches with just about anyone so great is that Cena has the ability to elevate not only himself but the other man in the ring. This lends to a quality of suspense within his matches— you never know if he’ll fall or favor.
We rummaged through the archives of every John Cena PPV singles match and ranked the greatest 15 tallies to-date. Although a good handful have needed to be left off the list (i.e. R-Truth, The Miz, Triple H, etc.) we were shocked to find that Cena has dominated many of the biggest beasts of WWE, while falling victim to an equally as surprising mix.
So, while they call him The Champ, how does John Cena really fair in pure head-to-head PPV matches?
15 Cena v. Sheamus (0-2)
It was Sheamus versus Cena, Money in the Bank, July 18, 2010. Yeah, way back in 2010. Many forget that seven years ago these two had a pretty substantial feud that would end in Sheamus holding a two-nothing lead over John Cena in one-on-one PPV matches. I mean, come on, that’s huge, considering it’s the leg-up AJ Styles uses to brag about his superiority. This bout of their feud was a one-on-one PPV Steel Cage match with Sheamus putting his WWE Championship title on the line. This had been a huge beef being built up on Raw. The reason for the Steel Cage was to ensure no interference from The Nexus. Although Cena did tag Sheamus, the ref was distracted and eventually Justin Gabriel would climb the cage thereby distracting Cena allowing The Celtic Conqueror a win. A year before that at Tables, Ladders, and Chairs in December 2009, the same scenario took place only Sheamus won the WWE Championship belt away from The Face That Runs the Place.
14 Cena v. Jericho (2-0)
Chris Jericho was pit against John Cena during Survivor Series in November 2008, marking the first time in three long years that the two entered the ring together for a major championship battle. Jericho was holding the World Heavyweight Championship, but after applying a gnarly FU (later renamed the Attitude Adjustment) that status changed hands to Cena. This was by NO means one of the only times Cena and Jericho duked it out (Cena was the man that sealed Jericho’s departure from WWE after beating Y2J in a “You’re Fired” match in 2005). About a year after Cena stole the belt from Jericho at Survivor Series ’08, he went and did it again at Armageddon 2009— Jericho’s opportunity to get the World Heavyweight crown back. Sorry Jericho, we still believe in you.
13 Cena v. Seth Rollins (2-1)
The back and forth with Seth Freakin’ Rollins started in 2014 at the special Tables, Ladders, and Chairs… and Stairs in December. The two had a Tables match with no title on the line. What WAS on the line was John Cena’s #1 Contendership for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship… so Cena definitely had something to lose. Although it was supposed to be a clean one-on-one, Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury interfered in the hopes of squashing Cena. I can’t remember exactly how many Attitude Adjustments there were in this bout, because honestly we lost count. We do remember one particular Super Attitude Adjustment through a table. Ouch. Cena defeated Rollins this time around. The next year at SummerSlam, the two reunited for a Champion v. Champion match that Rollins took the W in. But the next month at Night of Champions, Cena pinned Rollins for the WWE United States Champion belt. It's safe to say, we love watching these guys clash.
12 Cena v. Rusev (2-1)
The Bulgarian Brute started strong in his one-on-one PPV record against The Champ when he defeat Cena by technical submission at the February 2015 Fastlane. That same year the two took their battle to the golden stage of WrestleMania 31, with Rusev putting up his United States Championship. Rusev was riding high from an undefeated streak, but Cena put a kebosh on that and claimed the title. It. Was. Bananas. Think Rocky IV all over again. (We’re pretty sure half the WWE Universe tweeted #Merica). Rusev yelled at Lana on the ring skirt and that was that. Rusev got his chance to regain the title at Payback in an I Quit match with Cena. Rusev tweeted prior to the match, “Americans are quitters. At #WWEPayback I will prove that Cena is a false hero when he say #IQuit #AmericasChampion.” So yeah, he seemed pretty confident. But the Leader of Cenation maintained his run as champion and everyone was buzzing about a possible turn that would pit Rusev and Lana against one another.
11 Cena v. Kevin Owens (2-1)
In a surprise twist, Kevin Owens would make his WWE debut at the Elimination Chamber event with a WIN over John Cena. However, Wrestling’s Worst Nightmare was no match for John Cena at 2015 Money in the Bank on June 14. With a history of attacking Cena outside of the ring, it was a nice dose of justice to see The Champ take the win on the pay-per-view main stage. But in due form, Kevin Owens made sure to Power Bomb Cena on the ring skirt following the match. Owens has always been somewhat juvenile about losing… but that’s what we love about him. Owens wouldn’t accept his loss and challenged Cena to a rematch during the next PPV that followed in July (Battleground). This time the United States Championship belt would be up for grabs. Duh, Cena maintained his reign over Owens via submission and kept the belt warm around his waist. This final one-on-one PPV match between the two would be the end to their on-screen feud.
10 Cena v. Alberto del Rio (3-2)
The Pride of Mexico, to much surprise, actually holds one of the most interesting one-on-one PPV histories with John Cena to-date. Over five occasions these two fought for the WWE United States Championship, World Heavyweight Championship, and WWE Championship. The first instance was Night of Champions in 2011, when Cena took the WWE Championship belt from Alberto Del Rio. El Presidente gained it back the next month at Hell in a Cell, but this wasn’t a clean one-on-one so we don’t count it. The next month at Vengeance (that was three-straight months of Cena v. Del Rio PPV matches), the two went head-to-head in a Last Man Standing match for the same belt, which del Rio held on to thanks to interference by The Miz and R-Truth (both of whom hold their own PPV feud history with Cena). It wasn’t until the 2013 Hell in a Cell that this rivalry was reignited, when Cena took the Work Heavyweight Championship from Del Rio, ending his 133-day streak). At Survivor Series in November, Cena maintained the belt in their face-off. Their final PPV hoorah was Hell in a Cell 2015 when del Rio made a surprise appearance and took the WWE United States Championship from The Champ.
9 Cena v. Bray Wyatt (2-1)
In 2014, it’s safe to say the WWE was painted head-to-toe in John Cena. He was the leading face of the business and in a true test of Good v. Evil, was pit against the spooky Bray Wyatt. The Man of 1,000 Truths was trying to turn the angelic Cena into a monster and unveil the true nature of WWE’s golden boy. It was Cena that challenges Wyatt to their first-ever one-on-one PPV fight at WrestleMania XXX. It wasn’t for a title, but like we said, the general Good v. Evil principle. Cena won. At Extreme Rules in May 2014, the two entered into a Steel Cage match only this time the bad guy won (it didn’t hurt that the entire Wyatt Family interfered, plus a creepy demonic child). Cena got his revenge at Payback in a Last Man Standing match in which Cena literally buried The New Face of Fear under a pile of equipment cases. It was gnarly. So gnarly, it acted as a ceiling of excellence and ended their feud.
8 Cena v. The Rock (1-1)
Pretty anticlimactic in terms of one-on-one PPV matches if you ask us, but the two are hands-down the most famous WWE wrestlers who have managed to ace crossover appeal so we had to include their rankings. And it’s even one to one. Both fights were during WrestleMania, with the first falling in April 2012 at WrestleMania XXVIII. The buildup to this fight took more than a year, when The Rock started poking the bear in 2011 after appearing on Raw for the first time in about seven years. He came out of the gate strong, calling Cena “a big fat bowl of Fruity Pebbles.” The Rock took the smack talk to Twitter, adding to the list of Cena similes a “homeless Power Ranger,” and “Vanilla Ice.” Their verbal assassinations were the heart of their discourse. The day finally came and the two were booked as the main event of WrestleMania XXVIII, where a Rock Bottom gave The Rock a pin and win. The following year, Cena took the WWE Championship from The Rock at WrestleMania XXIX. There’s rumors The Rock was supposed to win that title back, but serious injuries as a result of his WrestleMania fight with Cena pulled him out of the runnings.
7 Cena v. Edge (1-2)
Even we often forgetful that John Cena was being billed for major pay-per-view fights during the same time Edge was kicking ass, taking names (and having sex with Lita on live television). At Backlash in 2009, Edge stole the World Heavyweight Championship from Cena thanks to a wicked Choke Slam by Big Show that sent The Champ through a spotlight. We had expected such a vindication from Big Show after he and Edge lost at WrestleMania to the hands of The Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect Soldier. Cena would go on to water his feud with Big Show. What’s cool about this matchup against Cena and Edge was that the two had fought countless times— most notably the PPV New Year’s Revolution 2006 when Edge cashed in his Money in the Bank to face Cena and gain his first-ever World title win. Edge would then defeat Cena at SummerSlam before Cena finally got over on Edge in a TLC match at Unforgiven; in Edge's hometown nonetheless.
6 Cena v. Batista (3-1)
The feud between Cena and Batista started cooking in August 2008 during SummerSlam when The Animal beat Cena for the win. John Cena would go on to be considered for the World Heavyweight Championship. Two years later and Batista would hand Cena another beating at Elimination Chamber 2010. What makes this run-in so heartbreaking is that Cena won the WWE Championship that night in an Elimination Chamber match with Kofi Kingston, Randy Orton, Sheamus (who was the champion), Ted DiBiase Jr., and Triple H. Then Batista took it away. None of that history really matters because at WrestleMania XXVI in 2010, Cena won the WWE Championship from Batista. Oooh! The next month at Extreme Rules, Cena would defeat Batista in a Last Man Standing match. Then at Over the Limit, it was an I Quit match where Cena not only maintained the Championship belt over Batista but put the final nail in sealing their feud.
5 Cena v. Big Show (4-0)
Big Show has taken some big (bigger than big) beatings by John Cena during his day. We kick off the slaughter at WrestleMania XX where Cena defeated Show for the United States Championship. Fast forward a few years to Judgement Day, where Cena pinned Big Show for the title-less win. Their resentment had been building since WrestleMania XXV when Cena took the glory from both Big Show and Edge. Although Big Show was too towering to get an STF from Cena at Judgement Day, he was dealt out an Attitude Adjustment (I mean, how?). The next month at Extreme Rules ’09, John Cena beat Big Show again in Submission match. Fast forward to No Way Out 2012 and Cena v. Big Show got its last singles match on PPV. This was a Steel Cage match with the stakes being if Big Show lost, John Laurinaitis would be fired. If Cena lost, Cena would be fired. Cena won— which is funny considering Laurinaitis is now the semi-father-in-law to The Champ, since Johnny married Nikki Bella’s mother.
4 Cena v. CM Punk (0-2-1)
This one may prove to be a shocker, but The Paul Heyman Guy managed to bury (or at least dig a shallow grave for) Cena on three different occasions. What’s somewhat lame about this (and most likely the reason you didn’t know Punk had this PPV advantage over Cena) is that during this time even though Punk was continuing to win WWE Championship titles, he was still being overlooked by the company. During the 2011 Money in the Bank PPV in July, Punk won the WWE Championship from Cena in a what would be Punk’s "final" match as a WWE employee (technically leaving with the title in hand). A surprise appearance by Punk in August led to a SummerSlam Singles match with guest referee Triple H. Here Punk beat The Champ for a second time (although Del Rio swooped in that same night and took the belt from Punk). For a final time Punk retained the Championship at Night of Champions in 2012 after a draw with Cena. This was around the time Cena’s arm was getting sketchy— an injury which he’d eventually get elbow surgery for.
3 Cena v. Brock Lesnar (2-2)
The history between these two men runs deeper than you may realize. Cena leveled Lesnar at Extreme Rules in 2012, then again at Night of Champions in September 2014 (only Cena was by disqualification and Lesnar retained the World Heavyweight Championship). Of course, the Night of Champions match would serve as a remath from SummerSlam where Lesnar would deliver Cena his most decisive loss when Suplex after Suplex would eventually lead to Lesnar walking out of the event as the new World Heavyweight Champion. However, prior to these three matches - years ago while Lesnar was enjoying his first dominant run in WWE - Cena would lose a match to Lesnar at Backlash 2003. This went down a few year prior to John Cena transitioning into the face of the WWE.
2 Cena v. A.J. Styles (1-2)
It’s still fresh as a daisy in our memories: John Cena finally winning a PPV one-on-one match against A.J. Styles at Royal Rumble in January 2017, tying him with Ric Flair for the most times to hold the WWE World Championship (16 times). No matter how much you might dislike Cena, this was a great match. What started slow would soon build to an edge-of-your-seat bout where either Superstar could have managed the pin. This was sweet, sweet vindication for Cena after losing two times in a row in singles matches against A.J. Styles, first at Money in the Bank in June 2016, then at SummerSlam on August 16, 2016. What has become clear in watching these two men duke it out in the ring is that their individual matches are truly magic. Unlike matchups between Randy Orton and Luke Harper, when it comes to A.J. and John, we never EVER know who’s going to walk away the winner. That is irreplaceable in an industry dominated by easy-to-read matches
1 Cena v. Randy Orton (3-5)
Our initial projection of this matchup skewed in the other direction, but as it would be, The Viper has a leg-up on The Face that Runs the Place. Their feud has become a mainstay of the WWE, and even mores now that both are on SmackDown. Their PPV singles history began in 2007 at Unforgiven when Orton took the win over Cena to keep via DQ. Then at NoWay Out in 2008, Cena would take a DQ victory as well. Jump forward to SummerSlam 2009 and Orton pins Cena to retain the title. Cena wins at Breaking Point. Orton wins at Hell in a Cell, Cena wins at Bragging Rights. At TLV 2013, Orton would climb the ladder to unify the WWE and World Heavyweight Championship while Cena watched from below. And then came Royal Rumble 2015 where Randy Orton would retain the title via pinfall over Cena. Will these two ever meet again on PPV? It is quite possible.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!