Ranking Every One Of John Cena's Title Match Wins Worst To Best

With the Monday Night Wars over with and the WCW-ECW invasion shrinking in the rearview mirror, WWE entered a new age in 2002. The roster had split between "Raw" and "SmackDown," giving more superstars a chance to shine on one show or the other. However, to make it to the top of these brands, as Vince McMahon put it, everyone would have to harness their "ruthless aggression." Some took the WWE Chairman's advice to heart, while others maintained their current course.


And then there was John Cena.

Debuting on "SmackDown" in June of 2002, Cena made a solid first impression in his first match on the blue brand against Kurt Angle. He showed off the exact form of ruthless aggression McMahon was looking for, making him the hottest young prospect in WWE. Though he'd stumble in the months that followed and almost end up on the chopping block, once he found his footing, he couldn't be stopped. Thus, John Cena has become a household name and one of the biggest stars to ever grace a WWE ring — and he has quite the stacked trophy case to prove it.

John Cena's career in the squared circle is covered in championship gold. Here are all of his victories ranked from the most lackluster to the most incredible.


28. Vs. Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel for the WWE Tag Team Championships - February 21, 2011

As the 2010s began, John Cena was on top of the world. The undeniable face of WWE at this point, he was on "Raw" weekly and more often than not found himself in the main event. Be that as it may, this era did come with some pretty disappointing Cena moments. Take, for instance, his WWE Tag Team Championship win alongside then-WWE Champion the Miz against Corre members Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel on February 21, 2011. While winning a championship is generally a good thing in professional wrestling, there's not much to celebrate in this case.


On the road to WrestleMania XXVII, Cena and Miz were poised to clash for the WWE Championship. However, on the aforementioned "Raw" episode, they wound up across the ring from Slater and Gabriel in a WWE Tag Team Championship match. The unlikely allies won the gold, but they hardly got a chance to celebrate before Wade Barrett informed them that Slater and Gabriel were invoking their rematch clause. The rematch began, Miz turned on Cena, and they lost their newly won titles, ending a forgettable title reign that hardly got off the ground.

27. Vs. Kofi Kingston, Triple H, Ted DiBiase, Sheamus, and Randy Orton for the WWE Championship - February 21, 2010

With WrestleMania XXVI on the horizon, WWE presented fans with the last pay-per-view stop on the road to the "Show of Shows": Elimination Chamber. The first Chamber match of the night saw WWE Champion Sheamus put his title on the line against Kofi Kingston, Randy Orton, John Cena, Triple H, and Ted DiBiase, though he didn't walk out of the structure that night with the gold. Rather, Cena overcame his five opponents and the dangers of the Elimination Chamber to earn his sixth WWE Championship. That said, he didn't get to enjoy the occasion.


Mere moments after Cena made Triple H tap out to win the title, Vince McMahon entered the arena with a bombshell announcement: Cena would have to defend his WWE Championship against Batista immediately, a tall order for anyone who just had to endure an Elimination Chamber match. Batista made quick work of Cena, taking the title for himself after hitting a devastating Batista Bomb. As a result, Cena's sixth WWE Championship victory endures as one of his most deflating of his many title wins over the years.

26. Vs. Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre for the WWE Tag Team Championships - October 24, 2010

June of 2010 saw the bold arrival of the Nexus on the WWE scene. A group of up-and-coming talents who'd previously featured on the inaugural season of "WWE NXT," the faction tore through the rosters of "Raw" and "SmackDown." Naturally, this brought them to the face of the company, John Cena, igniting a feud between him and Nexus leader Wade Barrett for the WWE Championship. While Barrett never took the title from Cena during this period, he did succeed in another way: He forced Cena to join the group after defeating him at the Hell in a Cell 2010 event.


As a part of the Nexus, John Cena consistently found himself in situations he wouldn't otherwise put himself in. Barrett and the rest of the team typically tormented him, but on one occasion, they actually let him add to his championship collection. On the October 24, 2010 at the second and final Bragging Rights event, Cena teamed with David Otunga in a winning effort against Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre for their WWE Tag Team Championships. They dropped the titles the following night on "Raw" to Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater, amounting to yet another underwhelming tag title win and reign for Cena.

25. Vs. Disciples of Synn for the OVW Southern Tag Team Championships - August 15, 2001

Before ascending to the top of the WWE mountain, John Cena had to prove himself under much smaller spotlights. One such promotion he honed his craft in was Ohio Valley Wrestling, which served as WWE's developmental territory from 2000 to 2008. During his time under the OVW banner from 2001 to 2002, Cena competed as the Prototype, a character who touted his genetic perfection compared to all others who dared step in the ring with him. He'd join forces with Rico Constantino as part of the Bolin Services faction.


Come the summer of 2001, the OVW Southern Tag Team Championships wound up vacated, so the powers that be put together a tournament to crown new champions. Prototype and Constantino made it to the finals where they successfully defeated the Disciples of Synn (BJ Payne and Damian) and walked away with the gold. This is far from Cena's most high-profile championship victory, but it's worth highlighting since it was his first time as a tag team champion in any company. Not to mention, he and Constantino lost their titles a few months later to the Minnesota Stretching Crew, comprised of future WWE standouts Shelton Benjamin and Brock Lesnar.

24. Vs. Smelly for the UPW Heavyweight Championship - April 27, 2000

Prior to signing with OVW and thus entering WWE's developmental system, John Cena competed under the banner of Rick Bassman's Ultimate Pro Wrestling. This is where he'd not only learn the fundamentals of working between the ropes, but where he'd begin putting together his Prototype persona. The half-man half-machine character arrived on the UPW scene at the tail end of 1999 and by the time the new millennium began, he'd shown some serious potential. With that, his hunt for the UPW Heavyweight Championship began, though it didn't take him long to win it.


In April of 2000, Prototype took on Smelly — also known as Mark Bell — for the UPW Heavyweight Championship, and when the dust settled, a new champion was crowned. In hindsight, this is a historic victory for John Cena, seeing as this was the very first time he held championship gold of any kind. At the same time, it's pretty easy to overlook this win considering the brief time period the UPW Heavyweight Championship was active and the more remarkable accolades Cena would go on to achieve. Prototype held onto the title for just under a month before dropping it back to Smelly in May.

23. Vs. Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase for the World Tag Team Championship - August 4, 2008

Heading into the 2008 edition of SummerSlam, John Cena and Batista were on a collision course. In late July, the two wound up at odds during the latter's World Heavyweight Championship rematch against CM Punk. Cena inadvertently hit Batista while attempting to attack John Bradshaw Layfield, prompting Batista to retaliate against the Cenation leader. Though Batista later asserted that he had no personal or professional issue with Cena, whether they liked it or not, their feud had begun. Two of the biggest stars of their generation would clash at the "Biggest Party of the Summer."


However, before making it to the pay-per-view event, Batista and Cena found themselves in an odd spot. On the August 4, 2008 episode of "Raw," they were booked as partners against the World Tag Team Champions, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, in a title match. They unexpectedly won the titles from the two multi-generational stars only for their fragile alliance to dissolve the following week, making Rhodes and DiBiase champions once again. This is yet another case of Cena winning tag team titles with an unlikely partner, though at least he and Batista held the titles for a week instead of a day or less.

22. Vs. Booker T for the WWE United States Championship - October 3, 2004

Now established as the trash-talking, sports jersey-wearing "Doctor of Thuganomics," John Cena had built a reputation as one of the most must-see superstars on the "SmackDown" roster in 2004. This buzz eventually brought him into the WWE United States Championship picture, but his first reign ended unceremoniously after then-"SmackDown" general manager Kurt Angle stripped him of it. Cena had the chance to reclaim it in an eight-man elimination match against Billy Gunn, Charlie Haas, Booker T, Kenzo Suzuki, Luther Reigns, Rob Van Dam, and René Duprée, but ultimately came up short.


Booker T walked away from that match as the new United States Champion, igniting a feud between him and Cena, who was still determined to regain the title he never truly lost. They traded victories in a Best of Five series throughout the summer of 2004, which culminated in one final showdown at No Mercy. Cena came out victorious and a two-time United States Champion, but he didn't enjoy a lengthy or eventful reign. Two nights later at that week's "SmackDown" taping, he lost the title to Carlito Caribbean Cool, largely nullifying his hard-fought win over Booker T.

21. Vs. Carlito Caribbean Cool for the WWE United States Championship - November 16, 2004

Carlito Caribbean Cool wasted no time putting championship gold around his waist, taking the WWE United States Championship from John Cena in his first main roster WWE match. Unlike before, Cena didn't go above and beyond to get his title back, at least not at first. The story goes that Jesús, Carlito's bodyguard, stabbed Cena in the kidney at a nightclub, hence why he was absent from "SmackDown" for a while (in reality, he was filming "The Marine"). Come November 2004, Cena made his triumphant return at Survivor Series and later the blue brand, where he made it a point to get even with Carlito and Jesús.


On the November 16, 2004 edition of "SmackDown," Carlito couldn't have been in a worse position. Not only was he injured, but John Cena had come back with every intention of taking the United States Championship away from him. Jesús attempted to wear down a fired-up Cena but failed miserably. Cena then took the fight to Carlito outside and inside of the ring before the match officially began. In under 30 seconds, Cena was once again the United States Champion. Sure, it was great to see him return from "injury," but this was a squash match in the purest sense.

20. Vs. Rey Mysterio for the WWE Championship - July 25, 2011

In the wake of his famed "Pipebomb" promo, where he took aim at everyone from Vince McMahon to the WWE audience, CM Punk took his career to the next level in the summer of 2011. He challenged John Cena for the WWE Championship at Money in the Bank and, in the ultimate power play, won the match left the company with the title in tow. In response, WWE had no choice but to vacate it and crown a new champion via a tournament. In the finals, fan favorite Rey Mysterio defeated the Miz to win his first and so far only WWE Championship, but his victory was short-lived.


On the very same episode of "Raw" where Mysterio won the WWE Championship, John Cena challenged him for it later on in the broadcast. After all, he was technically the former champion, so he could invoke his rematch clause. The two mainstays of the Ruthless Aggression Era squared off in the main event with Cena defeating Mysterio for the championship — just in time for CM Punk to return and set up a second bout between him and Cena. Cena may have become a nine-time WWE Champion on this night, but taking Mysterio's big moment out from under him for the sake of his feud with Punk somewhat cheapens this win.

19. Vs. Leviathan for the OVW Heavyweight Championship - February 20, 2002

After impressing in OVW as a tag team star during his days as Prototype, John Cena's potential as a single star became increasingly more obvious. He clawed his way to the top of the card, but he had aspirations beyond simply main eventing. He wanted to be a champion once again, and this desire put him across the ring from the dominant Leviathan, better known as "The Animal" Batista. He defeated the Machine (aka Doug Basham) for the OVW Heavyweight Championship in late November of 2001 and defended it against D-Lo Brown before his showdown with Prototype.


Prototype vs. Leviathan for the OVW Heavyweight Championship took place on February 20, 2002 at Davis Arena in Louisville, Kentucky. After a back-and-forth battle, Prototype was crowned the new OVW Heavyweight Champion — his first and only stint with the title that lasted 84 days before he dropped it to Nova. In the grand scheme of his career, this may not look like that important of a match, but there are actually some things appreciate here. Not only was this Cena's second world championship victory ever, but he took it from the future Batista in the first of many matches they'd have in the coming years. Therefore, it deserves some credit.

18. Vs. Alberto Del Rio for the WWE Championship - September 18, 2011

Upon CM Punk's WWE return in 2011, the stage was set for his big WWE Championship unification match against John Cena at SummerSlam. Both men walked into the Staples Center with their respective WWE titles in hand, each ready to prove that they're the real WWE Champion. Cena and Punk went to war as Triple H presided over the contest as the special guest referee. At the end, Punk stood victorious. However, thanks to an attack by Kevin Nash and Alberto Del Rio cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase, Del Rio closed SummerSlam as the new WWE Champion.


As Punk shifted his focus to Nash and Triple H, Cena went after Del Rio in hopes of becoming WWE Champion once again. They faced off in a match at Night of Champions in September of 2011, which concluded with Cena's hand raised high as the new WWE Champion. While this wasn't a train wreck of a match by any means, Cena has had bigger, more impressive world title wins throughout his career. Aside from the fact that it's his 10th time winning the WWE Championship, there's not too much to write home about here. Not to mention that he lost the title two weeks later at Hell in a Cell.

17. Vs. Edge for the WWE Championship - January 29, 2006

John Cena boasted quite the inaugural WWE Championship reign, spending 280 days as the champ and thus the face of "Raw" while overcoming all challengers. His time at the top of the WWE wouldn't last forever, though, thanks to none other than "The Rated-R Superstar" himself, Edge. In January of 2006, he'd become WWE Champion for the first time by using his Money in the Bank briefcase against Cena, who had just won a grueling Elimination Chamber match against Kane, Shawn Michaels, Chris Masters, Carlito, and Kurt Angle mere minutes prior. 


Determined to reclaim his lost championship gold, Cena made it abundantly clear that he wouldn't make Edge's run as WWE Champion an easy one. Three weeks after their impromptu match at New Year's Revolution, Cena challenged Edge for the WWE Championship at the 2006 Royal Rumble event. After a decent match, Cena scored a pinfall victory and went home that night as a two-time WWE Champion. Still, his rivalry with Edge was far from over, with more matches on the horizon — almost all of which proving more memorable than their Royal Rumble outing.

16. Vs. Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship - October 27, 2013

SummerSlam 2013 saw John Cena defend his WWE Championship against Daniel Bryan with Triple H as the guest referee. After a hard-hitting battle, the underdog Bryan pinned Cena to claim his first WWE Championship before swiftly losing it to Mr. Money in the Bank, Randy Orton. While this may seem like the perfect setup for Cena and Orton to reignite their classic rivalry with the WWE Championship in the middle, that wouldn't be the case. The following night on "Raw," Cena announced that he'd have to step away from the ring between four and six months due to a torn triceps.


As he had several times before, Cena made a major splash when he returned after some time on the shelf. He challenged Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship at the Hell in a Cell event in October — just over two months after leaving for triceps surgery. Despite his time away, Cena managed to defeat Del Rio for the title, making him a three-time World Heavyweight Champion. Additionally, he'd turn out to be the final World Heavyweight Champion since he and Randy Orton would unify the World Heavyweight and WWE Championships at TLC that December.

15. Vs. Randy Orton for the WWE Championship - October 25, 2009

WWE made some tweaks to its pay-per-view calendar in 2009, dropping a handful of classic events in favor of brand new ones. One such new addition was Bragging Rights, which took place in October of 2009 and pit the superstars of "Raw" and "SmackDown" against each other (not dissimilar from the November staple, Survivor Series). Though they both represented the red brand, that didn't stop longtime rivals Randy Orton and John Cena from going head-to-head for the WWE Championship at the event. On this occasion, they competed in a falls count anywhere, 60-minute iron man match.


Within the hour time limit, Cena and Orton absolutely went to war across the arena. Legacy members Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes interfered, weapons were used, equipment around ringside was destroyed, and numerous falls were traded. Cena narrowly walked away the winner and a five-time WWE Champion with six falls compared to Orton's five. This was the final installment in their four single match streak throughout 2009, but it wasn't necessarily the best of the bunch. The Wrestling Observer rated this bout three and a half stars, and compared to Cena's other WWE title wins, this one tends to get lost in the shuffle.

14. Vs. Rusev for the WWE United States Championship - March 29, 2015

In late 2014, Rusev embarked on a conquest of the WWE locker room, one that led him to championship gold. He defeated Sheamus for the WWE United States Championship in November, and for a time, it seemed like no one could stop the "Bulgarian Brute." From Mark Henry to Jack Swagger, all who tried to stop Rusev succumbed to his frightening brand of brutality, leaving fans to wonder if he could truly be beaten. Then John Cena came along, who challenged Rusev for his title at Fastlane but also failed to take it from him after a low blow from Rusev's manager, Lana, eventually passing out from the Accolade submission hold. With WrestleMania 31 right around the corner, Cena got another chance to become United State Champion at the event. 


Both he and Rusev fought hard in the name of the title, yet Cena was the one who became champion after scoring a pinfall on his opponent. This marked his fourth time as the US Champ, though it came at a cost for his opponent. After two unsuccessful attempts at trying to get his title back, things only got worse for Rusev. His unpinned streak was broken, he'd lose more often than before, and he never reached the same level of dominance he achieved prior to WrestleMania 31. Cena may have had great matches during his United States Championship open challenge, but him winning the title damaged Rusev's image immensely.

13. Vs. John Morrison and the Miz for the WWE Championship - May 1, 2011

WrestleMania XXVII was far from John Cena's finest outing on the Grandest Stage of Them All. His WWE Championship match with the Miz ended in a double count out, prompting the Rock to restart the bout after hitting Cena with the Rock Bottom. Thanks to the Great One's interference, Miz retained his title and Cena suffered his first WrestleMania loss since WrestleMania XXIV. The following night on "Raw," it came to light that Cena would face the Rock at WrestleMania XXVIII, but don't be fooled. He wasn't done with Miz and the WWE Championship just yet.


Cena got another chance to dethrone the Miz as WWE Champion at Extreme Rules 2011, this time having to contend with some added variables. Miz's tag team partner-turned-rival John Morrison joined the fray, and this now-triple threat contest would happen within the confines of a steel cage. All three men put on an entertaining match to close out the show, though only one could stand triumphant as WWE Champion. Cena scored the win here, and while he wouldn't go on to have the most exciting reign, his redemption for his WrestleMania XXVII loss in the form of this enjoyable, four-star match deserves some recognition.

12. Vs. Alberto Del Rio, Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, Cesaro, Roman Reigns, Kane, and Sheamus for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship - June 29, 2014

WrestleMania XXX was the night of Daniel Bryan's life, even though it didn't come easy. He beat Triple H in the event's opening match, which allowed him to compete for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Batista and Randy Orton later on. He then managed to do the unthinkable and win both matches, earning himself the title he had spent months chasing. Sadly, he wasn't a fighting champion for long due to a neck injury that forced him to vacate the championship a few months later on "Raw." With that, a new champion was to be crowned at Money in the Bank 2014 a few weeks later.


To determine the next WWE World Heavyweight Champion, WWE assembled a star-studded ladder match for Money in the Bank. Bray Wyatt, John Cena, Randy Orton, Alberto Del Rio, Kane, Roman Reigns, Sheamus, and Cesaro all had their eyes on the prize, and they fought hard in hopes of taking it for themselves. Instead of seeing Orton reclaim the title he lost at WrestleMania or a first-time champion like Cesaro or Wyatt, fans witnessed Cena climb the ladder to become the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Given the stars involved and how infrequently Cena competed in ladder matches, this win is quite the exciting anomaly.

11. Vs. Rated-RKO for the World Tag Team Championships - January 29, 2007

As 2006 turned to 2007, John Cena entered the new year as WWE Champion with a rampaging Umaga hot on his heels. After a string of matches, "The Samoan Bulldozer" had his undefeated streak snapped and failed to take the title away from Cena, ultimately losing their feud. With Umaga out of the way on the road to WrestleMania 23, Cena would bizarrely enter a shaky alliance with none other than "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels and challenge Rated-RKO — Randy Orton and Edge — for their World Tag Team Championships on the January 29, 2007 edition of "Raw."


Cena and Michaels won the match, making them the new World Tag Team Champions heading into their WWE Championship match at WrestleMania 23. Unlike Cena and his future unlikely teammates, he and HBK defended their titles a handful of times before the latter turned on his partner and cost them their gold on the April 2 episode of "Raw." Between the multiple defenses, having the legendary Michaels was his partner, and holding the titles during their WrestleMania match — not to mention it being his first WWE tag team championship victory – this remains Cena's most high-profile tag title win.

10. Vs. Randy Orton for the WWE Championship - September 13, 2009

WWE fans were treated to a WrestleMania XXIV rematch at Night of Champions 2009, with Triple H, John Cena, and Randy Orton competing in a triple threat match for the WWE Championship. Much like the previous version of this match, Orton walked out victorious, but this time around, his Legacy teammates Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase were to thank for his win. Still, the numbers advantage going to Orton didn't deter Cena from maintaining his chase for the gold, hence why he challenged "The Apex Predator" to a match at SummerSlam that year for the title — a bout Cena would end up losing.


Of course, SummerSlam was far from the final chapter in the storied Cena-Orton feud. They'd clash again for the WWE Championship at the very first — and so far only — Breaking Point event in September in an "I quit" match. Cena and Orton threw everything they had at each other, yet neither man was eager to give up. Finally, Cena forced a handcuffed Orton to say "I quit" while locked in the STF submission hold. With a well-deserved four and one-quarter star rating from the Wrestling Observer to its credit, Cena's match with Orton and subsequent WWE title win at Breaking Point is one of his better ones.

9. Vs. Seth Rollins for the WWE United States Championship - September 20, 2015

John Cena's time as WWE United States Champion in the mid-2010s is a career highlight. He put on some breathtaking matches during his open challenges with names such as Sami Zayn and Cesaro, and took part in a great program with a debuting Kevin Owens. All good things must come to an end, though, and Cena's fourth run as United States Champion concluded at SummerSlam 2015 in a winner-take-all match against WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins — courtesy of none other than longtime host of "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart.


Despite his loss at the "Biggest Party of the Summer," Cena would do as he had countless times before: prepare for a rematch. Such a contest would come together at Night of Champions 2015, where dual champion Rollins would take on both Cena and Sting in separate matches for the United States and WWE World Heavyweight Championships, respectively. "The Architect" defeated Sting, but he couldn't overcome Cena earlier in the night, thus signaling the end of his time as a double champion. The Wrestling Observer gave this match four stars, and it's hard to argue against that rating. Rollins and Cena put on an excellent match prior to the latter's victory.

8. Vs. Batista for the WWE Championship - March 28, 2010

Following his quick and embarrassing loss at Elimination Chamber 2010, John Cena made it his mission to become WWE Champion once again. Not only that, but he sought a measure of revenge on Batista, who took the title from him moments after he outlasted five other superstars in the Elimination Chamber. With WrestleMania XXVI on the horizon, it came as no surprise that Cena's big rematch with Batista would take place at the biggest event on WWE's pay-per-view calendar. When the night finally came, their match took place second to last on the card, behind Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels.


Once the bell rang, these two faces of the Ruthless Aggression Era got to work trying to overtake the other and leave the University of Phoenix Stadium as WWE Champion. They both came up through OVW together and later cemented themselves as top guys at WrestleMania 21, with Cena going on to represent "Raw" while Batista carried the "SmackDown" banner. This was their biggest match to date, and while it wasn't the most awe-inspiring, the history between Cena and Batista added a lot to the atmosphere. Cena winning to become WWE Champion and redeeming his loss at Elimination Chamber was just the icing on the cake.

7. Vs. Edge and Big Show for the World Heavyweight Championship - April 5, 2009

John Cena proudly stood as WWE's World Heavyweight Champion in the early months of 2009, but his longtime rival Edge had other plans. Having attacked Kofi Kingston and stolen his place in the Elimination Chamber match, Edge defeated Cena, Mike Knox, Rey Mysterio, Kane, and Chris Jericho and slinked away with the championship at No Way Out. Bearing in mind his history with Cena, he should've known that his nemesis wouldn't take that defeat laying down. Edge would have to defend his World Heavyweight Championship against Cena at WrestleMania 25, with Big Show tossed in for good measure.


For the second year in a row, Cena found himself in a triple threat match at WrestleMania with championship gold on the line. However, unlike his losing effort against Triple H and Randy Orton at WrestleMania XXIV, he managed to get his hand raised at the end of his WrestleMania 25 bout against Edge and Big Show and leave the arena that night as a two-time World Heavyweight Champion. This was a good match overall that earned three and a quarter stars from the Wrestling Observer and gave Cena another WrestleMania moment when he briefly lifted both Big Show and Edge on his shoulders. Talk about Herculean strength.

6. Vs. Chris Jericho for the World Heavyweight Championship - November 23, 2008

John Cena squared off against Batista at SummerSlam 2008, an infamous bout for the leader of the Cenation. During the match, Cena suffered a herniated disc in his neck, taking him out of contention for CM Punk's World Heavyweight Championship at Unforgiven 2008, not to mention out of action entirely. He underwent a successful surgery to repair his injury shortly after SummerSlam, and so he began his trip down the road to recovery. It was long and tedious, but he eventually reached the end by November, meaning that he could return to the squared circle just in time for Survivor Series.


Upon his return, Cena began a feud with Chris Jericho, who previously won the World Heavyweight Championship on "Raw" after defeating Batista in a steel cage match. The two competed one-on-one at Survivor Series with the title on the line, though questions lingered over Cena's condition heading into the match. Nevertheless, he dispelled any worries when he defeated Jericho and became World Heavyweight Champion for the first time — much to the delight of the Boston, Massachusetts crowd. Cena has made some triumphant returns over the years, and this is one of his best.

5. Vs. Edge for the WWE Championship - September 17, 2006

In the wake of their Royal Rumble 2006 encounter, John Cena and Edge parted ways for a short while. Cena defended his WWE Championship against Triple H in a brief program before dropping the title to Rob Van Dam at the second ECW: One Night Stand event (thanks largely to Edge's interference in the match). The ECW original didn't hold the title long, though, with Edge taking it for his own during a triple threat match between him, Van Dam, and Cena on "Raw." RVD quickly disappeared from the WWE Championship scene and Cena and Edge continued their rivalry from there.


Come September, Cena and Edge met at the Unforgiven pay-per-view in a TLC match — a stipulation that Edge had become synonymous with during his and Christian's matches with the Dudley Boyz and the Hardys. Be that as it may, that experience didn't translate to a win for "The Rated-R Superstar." To secure the win and the WWE Championship, Cena tossed Edge through two tables from the top of a ladder before unhooking his prize. Of their many battles throughout the years, this is arguably their best — receiving four and one-quarter stars from the Wrestling Observer — and easily one of Cena's most memorable championship victories.

4. Vs. The Rock for the WWE Championship - April 7, 2013

John Cena competed in the biggest WrestleMania match of his life at WrestleMania XXVIII, taking on the Rock in a main event that WWE had advertised for an entire calendar year. When the final bell rang, Cena's hand wasn't the one the referee raised in victory. That honor went to "The Great One," who celebrated in the ring while Cena sulked on the entrance ramp as the event came to a close. He had no choice but to accept that the Rock was the better man that night, but per usual, Cena wouldn't go quietly. He wanted redemption, which inevitably came in 2013.


At the 2013 Royal Rumble, Cena outlasted 29 other competitors and locked-in a world championship match at WrestleMania 29. On that same evening, the Rock returned to the ring in a winning effort against CM Punk, becoming WWE Champion once again. Even though their WrestleMania XXVIII match bore the tagline "Once in a Lifetime," Rock and Cena would clash for a second time at WrestleMania 29. Cena redeemed himself when came out the winner and an 11-time WWE Champion, going on to bask in the spotlight alongside the Rock to close out the show. This is truly a WrestleMania moment for the highlight reel.

3. Vs. Big Show for the WWE United States Championship - March 14, 2004

Before he'd become a WrestleMania icon, stepping toe-to-toe with some of the most legendary names to ever appear on WWE programming, John Cena had to start somewhere. As 2003 became 2004 and WrestleMania XX approached, he found himself embroiled in a feud with Big Show. It all started when he eliminated Cena from the 2004 Royal Rumble match, dashing his chances at a WrestleMania world title opportunity. All the while, Big Show held the WWE United States Championship, which he won at No Mercy 2003 by defeating Eddie Guerrero. Naturally, Cena had eyes on his first piece of WWE gold.


In Cena's very first WrestleMania match, he'd face Big Show for the United States Title. Brash and arrogant as ever, "The Doctor of Thuganomics" faced the champ head-on, even if Show's size advantage made it difficult for Cena to get ahead. Of course, that's nothing that a pair of brass knuckles couldn't fix. With the referee distracted, Cena clocked his opponent in the face, delivered an FU — later renamed to the Attitude Adjustment — and won the match. Little did the world realize it then, but Cena's meteoric rise to the top of WWE had just begun, and it all started with the United States Championship.

2. Vs. AJ Styles for the WWE Championship - January 29, 2017

Throughout much of 2016, John Cena took part in one of the strongest feuds of his later years as a full-time wrestler. In May of that year, he and AJ Styles — accompanied by his fellow Club members Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows — found themselves at odds on numerous occasions. Their first one-on-one match took place at Money in the Bank, followed by a six man tag team match at Battleground, where Cena teamed with Enzo Amore and Big Cass in a winning effort. Cena then lost to Styles at SummerSlam and failed to take his WWE Championship at No Mercy, but their rivalry didn't end there.


After some time away from the ring, Cena and Styles rekindled their rivalry with the WWE Championship caught in the middle. At this point in time, Cena had 15 world championship reigns to his credit, meaning that if he beat Styles, he'd tie "Nature Boy" Ric Flair's record with 16. He successfully did so after a barn-burner of a match at the Royal Rumble 2017 event, which the Wrestling Observer awarded four and three quarters stars. Styles revealed on "WWE's The Bump" that he considers it the best match he and Cena ever put on. This was one of Cena's best matches of the late 2010s and it led to a historic title win, hence why it ranks so high.

1. Vs. JBL for the WWE Championship - April 3, 2005

At The Great American Bash 2004, John Bradshaw Layfield squared off against the legendary Eddie Guerrero for the WWE Championship in a Texas bull rope match. The former member of the Acolytes Protection Agency won his first WWE Championship on this night, kicking off a reign that would extend for nearly 300 days. From the Undertaker to Kurt Angle, the biggest names on the "SmackDown" roster couldn't unseat JBL as champion — partially because he'd do anything and everything necessary to hang onto the gold. However, his good fortune ran out when he finally came face-to-face with an up-and-comer named John Cena.


Cena earned his title shot against JBL at Now Way Out 2005, where he defeated Angle in the finals of a WWE Championship number one contender tournament. Defeating the champ wouldn't be easy, especially since he had his Cabinet (Orlando Jordan, Jillian Hall, Amy Weber, and Doug and Danny Basham) backing him up. Nevertheless, the increasingly popular Cena wouldn't back down at WrestleMania 21, when he finally got his WWE Championship opportunity. By the time Cena left the Staples Center that night, he was WWE Champion for the first time, cementing his place as WWE's next big star in the most important title win of his career.