‘The Babe Ruth of WWE,’ as Vince McMahon once called him, John Cena celebrates his 43rd birthday Thursday, April 23, 2020. From winning championships to making it big into Hollywood to becoming a record-setting Make-A-Wish granter, Cena has done it all. He has achieved everything there is to achieve in the wrestling business during his 18-plus years in the WWE, and even in his last leg as a professional wrestler, Cena continues to entertain. As a 16-time World Champion, tying with The Nature Boy Ric Flair for the most heavyweight title reigns, the best of Cena may be behind him, but it’s not curtains yet. Also Read - Former WWE Star Shad Gaspard Found Dead on Los Angeles Beach
Celebrating the occasion, we’ve picked out the top 10 moments from Cena’s illustrious career. Also Read - Former WWE Champion John Cena Pays Tribute to Irrfan Khan, Rishi Kapoor With Cryptic Posts on Instagram
A Ruthless Debut Also Read - WWE Raw Results: Rollins, McIntyre Make MITB Match Official, Jinder Mahal Returns
WWE purchasing WCW brought the Attitude Era to an end, and with the F out of the WWE, the company was headed into the different direction. Two of their biggest starts were on borrowed time. Stone Cold Steve Austin set out on a hiatus and The Rock had one leg in Hollywood. It was time to shake things up and McMahon left it to the talent to grab the brass ring. Responding to Kurt Angle’s open challenge was a young Cena, who launched the “Ruthless Aggression” era by slapping the Olympic gold medallist in the face and nearly pulling off an upset. Those six minutes were proof that Cena was in it into the long haul. His night became sweeter when he received a handshake from The Undertaker after his match.
Winning the WWE Championship
From just another grappler, Cena morphed into the fire-spitting Dr. of Thuganomics, rapping his way into the hearts of his fans. During that phase, he feuded with Taker, Angle, Eddie Guerrero and many others before setting his sights on the WWE championship. JBL had held onto the top title for 280 days, making him the longest-reigning Smackdown heavyweight Champion. But JBL would eventually fall to the Cena on the grandest stage of them all – WrestleMania 21. Following his win, the WWE officially entered the Cena era when The Spinner belt was introduced.
Teaming Up With The Hulkster and HBK
This one can pass under the radar but shouldn’t. A young Cena could never have imagined sharing the ring with Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels. So when Shawn Michaels introduced Hulk Hogan as their mystery partner for a six-man tag-team match against Chris Jericho, Christian and Tyson Tomko, Cena went down on his knees, his hands on his head soaking the moment. Hogan picked up the win with a leg drop on Tomko before Cena and he posed in front of the cameras
Beating The Game And Shawn Michaels at Consecutive WrestleMania
Perhaps Cena’s two greatest WrestleMania matches came in 2006 and 2007, when he defeated both members of D-Generation X in back-to-back years. Cena’s feud with The Game was intense and the match extremely physical. Battling a hostile crowd at WrestleMania 22, Cena overcame a pedigree and made Triple H tap to the STFU. A year later, Cena would go on and beat his best bud, Shawn Michaels in what could be called of the best matches of his career. Main-eventing WrestleMania 23, the match had some wonderful spots with Michaels piledriving Cena on the steep steps and performed his trademark moonsault. After exchanging the AA and the Sweet Chin Music twice, a bloodied Michaels found himself in the clutches of STFU and had to tap out.
Taking Out Nexus
Cena’s feud with the Nexus is not talked about as much as it should. Led by Wade Barrett, the Nexus were this group of eight former contestants of NXT, who straightaway targetted the top dog. They went all out after Cena, costing him the WWE title at Fatal-4 Way against Sheamus and a rematch at Money in the Bank. After failing to take Nexus out all by himself, Cena gathered a troop, including Edge, Chris Jericho, John Morrison, R-Truth, Daniel Bryan and Bret Hart who defeated The Nexus at Summerslam 2011. It was a storyline worth investing in with Cena later taking on Barrett in a chairs match at 2011 TLC which he won.
First Five-Star WWE Match in Over a Decade
Around about the middle of 2011, the WWE was becoming monotonous with the same wrestlers being pitted in the title picture. It changed during June 27 episode of Raw, when CM Punk cut the infamous Pipe Bomb promo, injecting an element of truth to the product. It was the beginning of kayfabe and reality becoming a bit of a blur with the WWE. With Punk’s contract set to expire after the Money in the Bank PPV, him threatening to leave with the WWE title added more drama to his match with Cena, arguable the best of the decade. The two wrestlers went at it for almost 40 minutes and add to that the unpredictable outcome of Punk dropping Cena with the Go to Sleep to leave victorious was just the shot in the arm WWE needed to progress ahead. It was the first time a WWE match was rated five-star since Bad Blood, 1997.
Royal Rumble Return And Win
In October 2007, Cena suffered a legitimate torn pectoral muscle while executing a hip toss. After being examined by WWE doctors, it was revealed that the injury would require six to seven months to heal, as a result of which Cena was stripped of the WWE title. Miraculously, Cena required roughly two months and returned to WWE programming as the 30th entrant in the 2008 Royal Rumble to one of the loudest pops of that era. He eliminated Triple H to win his first Royal Rumble after finishing runner-up in 2005.
Once in a Lifetime
Dream matches are no longer a certainty in the WWE. After The Rock vs Hulk Hogan, dream matches became limited, but when in 2011, the People’s Champion returned and cost Cena his title at WrestleMania 27, a clash between the best of two generations was set. The Rock vs Cena – WrestleMania 28, Once in a Lifetime. The Rock, one of the pioneers of the attitude era, vs Cena, the face of the company. Being tag team partners at Survivor Series, cutting scathing promos filled with personal attacks and cheap shots, a return to the Dr. of Thuganomics gimmick, revival of The Rock Concert – the year-long build-up to this match had everything. And add to it the satisfaction of wrestling a perfect match. The Rock hardly showed ring rust, pulling off an almost hour long segment with Cena at the main event of WrestleMania 28, and winning his first Mania match in nine years.
US Title Open Challenge
The night after Cena handed Rusev his first one-on-one loss at WrestleMania 31, he announced that he would issue an open challenge each week on Raw with his United States Championship on the line. This led to a series of brilliant, jaw-dropping matches which propelled athletes such as Cesaro, Dean Ambrose, Sami Zayn, Neville and others. All these were phenomenal matches with Cena adding a few move-sets of his own such as the springboard stunner and the Emerald Flowsion. After defeating multiple superstars to keep his title, Cena lost the US championship to Kevin Owens in a title vs title match at the Elimination Chamber PPV
Tying Ric Flair
It took an eternity but the WWE gave wrestling fans their dream match when Cena and AJ Styles feuded in the summer of 2016. After a series of back and forth matches, Cena and Styles clashed at the 2017 Royal Rumble with the WWE Championship on the line and the two athletes blew the roof off the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Cena and Styles bust out the big moves and kept the crowd enthralled with close pins. Rare moves were used and then there’s the abundance use of finishers, but for a change this didn’t look forced. Cena countered a phenomenal forearm to delivery the AA and rolled it up with a second to pick up the win, in the process, becoming a 16-time World Champion.