Here’s the bad: John Cena has won the WWE/World/WWE World Title/WWE Unified Special Dragon Ball 15 times in his career.
Here’s the good: John Cena has lost the title 15 times.
All of these losses should have brought us some measure of joy as they represent a respite from Cena in the main event. HAHAHAH just kidding. He’s always in the main event. Still, him losing the belts is a moment to celebrate usually as it means he actually lost a match (most of the time). But some of his losses have made us happier than others. So, here’s a very scientific, definitive ranking of John Cena’s losses by how happy they made our cold, dark, child-hating hearts.
15. Cena Forfeits The Title
After a beatdown by Wrestling’s Dane Cook, Mr. Kennedy, Cena tore his pectoral and had to forfeit his title. Nobody likes injuries. Sadz.
14. John Cena vs. Sheamus – TLC 2009 – Tables Match
If there’s one shitty way to win a title, it’s by your opponent essentially slipping on a banana peel. That’s how Cena lost his match to the rookie Sheamus. Sheamus really didn’t deserve his push but he became buddies with HHH while hiding from Yoshi Tatsu and got an early title shot. Nobody really bought into the ending and if Cena was going to lose to any rookie it damn sure should have been Umaga. But that’s besides the point. The point is, we have this match to thank for Sheamus being a thing and nobody wants that. It’s the most unconvincing title loss on Cena’s resume.
Plus he basically just jumped off the ropes onto the table on his own, yelling YOLO.
13. John Cena vs. CM Punk – Summerslam 2011
It’s absolutely unfathomable how the WWE screwed 2011 up so badly. They were coming off of the hottest angle in years with the Pipe Bomb and a classic MITB match. Then HHH happened. This was ponytail, “I’m the star” HHH who didn’t have an NXT full of future stars he could use to stroke his ego productively. So instead, he interjected himself into the Summerslam match, which lead to a text message angle and Kevin Nash making poopies. Before all of that, though, Punk pinned Cena who had his foot on the ropes. And nobody seemed to notice or care. So Cena didn’t even really get pinned. Everyone just shrugged and the match was over so Clique guys could show up.
Praise Jehovah that Scott Hall didn’t come destroy Brock Lesnar on Sunday.
12. John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. CM Punk – Hell In A Cell 2011
The 2011 clusterf*ck continues. Cena beat Del Rio immediately after Del Rio pinned Punk and we naturally had a triple threat match. The end came when Cena asked Del Rio to mow his lawn and Del Rio got DQ’d for punching in retaliation. Actually, it ended when Del Rio hit CM Punk with a pipe and pinned him. So we got no John Cena pin. No glorious rain dancing on his corpse. Nothing. Instead we get R-Truth and The Miz running in.
In a few weeks, John Cena and The Rock would effectively end Truth and Miz’s careers while flexing pecs at each other. A week after Cena beats them two of them by himself.
11. John Cena vs. Randy Orton – TLC 2013
It was the match not a single person wanted to see. Even the WWE sort of knew it, but were for some reason desperate to get a main event program going that didn’t involve Daniel Bryan. This wasn’t it. We got Cena/Orton Part Infinity and the crowd sat on their hands for it. I mean, I get that if you’re going to unify the titles you probably want the two biggest guys in the company over the last 10 years to do it, but Cena/Orton had been done so many times and everyone (even Cena) knew that Daniel Bryan should have been in the main event.
In the end, Orton got a clean win by handcuffing Cena to the ropes and climbing the ladder to get the belts. Still, there is no joy in this. There is no glee. Because the only thing more eye roll worthy than John Cena winning the title again is Randy Orton winning the title again.
10. John Cena vs. Edge – Last Man Standing – Backlash 2009
Speaking of feuds we got tired of.
Edge and John Cena had an unbelievable chemistry in the ring, so they never got too boring. However, if we want to pinpoint a year that Cena went from “hey, let’s boo this guy” to “insufferable Superman” it might very well be 2009. Just think, this year gave us Cena as the perennial champ and DX in main events. How did we ever survive?
So in a Last Man Standing match that brought out all the extra bells and whistles, Cena only loses by super explosion after Big Show threw him into the Bat Signal or something. Because that’s what it takes to beat John Cena. Exploding light fixtures and Michael Bay special effects. This list has been depressing so far.
9. John Cena vs. Sheamus vs. Edge vs. Randy Orton – Fatal Four Way 2010
I swear I didn’t remember this match for the life of me…but thanks to the WWE Network for however much it costs, I revisited it and remembered that the eaters of worlds named the Nexus interfered. This was when they were still boss and before they got neutered (also, after Daniel Bryan got fired so boo that), causing havoc and being badasses. They destroyed everyone in the match until Sheamus snuck in and got the pin. God, the Nexus had so much potential. They were great. And watching this makes me sad, however they got to destroy John Cena for our viewing pleasure so we can forget what happens next.
Sike. Cena beat the Nexus by himself a few months later.
8. John Cena vs. Randy Orton – Hell In A Cell 2009
2009 featured the Cena/Orton feud that just would not end. It’s been four years and we still have no desire to see these two wrestle each other again. Still, I’m not as down on their 2009 feud as most people. They had a train wreck of an Iron Man match that’s still at least three times better than Bret/Shawn and an underrated Hell In A Cell match. The thing about this match that’s so nice is that Randy Orton got a win in a cell that was clean as a whistle. I love how Orton just figured out the most common sense ways to beat a guy: tie him up to the ropes, choke him until he’s unconscious then swing your foot by his head so the wind gives him an aneurism.
It’s a shame that Orton spent so much of his prime Viper era in an endless feud with Cena and jobbing to HHH. By the way, Cena won the next month.
7. John Cena vs. Batista – Elimination Chamber 2010
Before Brock Lesnar returned as Bane, the closest thing to the monster we wanted to see destroy Cena was one Dave Batista. The Air Jordan king had already beaten Cena once at Summerslam so we were supposed to believe that he’d be the favorite when they matched up. So after the Elimination Chamber match (which Cena won of course), Vince brought Batista out to destroy him. The match was short and dominant and the prime of heel Batista.
Then Cena beat Batista for three months in a row. Though their WrestleMania match is an underrated masterpiece.
6. John Cena vs. Edge – New Year’s Revolution 2006
So here’s what happened: Edge was the Money In The Bank holder. Cena had just finished a chamber match where he rose above logic to beat Carlito and Chris Masters (don’t laugh, jerks) (they’d just eliminated Shawn Michaels and Kane)(For real) by himself, leaving us to roll our eyes and get ready for RAW.
Then Edge’s music kicked up and – seeing as how this was the first time someone cashed in – the crowd got all confused and AMPED like a mofo. Edge ran to the ring and quickly destroyed Cena for his first title win and stood as the first guy to leave Cena in a pool of his own blood with a loss. Oh, happy day.
Cena beat Edge like two weeks later.
5. John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan – Summerslam 2013
I really want this to be higher. It’s one of John Cena’s greatest matches ever. It’s Daniel Bryan beating him clean in the middle of the ring. It was intended to be a farewell to Cena as a title contender for a while so he could help destroy younger guys’ careers. This was supposed to transition Cena into the veteran mode where he doesn’t need to win or have the title all the time. All at the hands of the American Dragon.
But HHH was there.
And at no point did I buy Bryan’s win. It was obvious there would be a swerve somewhere and Bryan wouldn’t be walking out with the title. I even missed the pin because I was looking at my phone, ho-humming through some of the match because even if Bryan won, the real ending wouldn’t happen until HHH did something HHH-y. Take HHH out of this match and it’s fighting for the top spot. Sigh. If I had a penny for every time I’ve said that.
4. John Cena vs. CM Punk – MITB 2011
Have a seat, grandkids. I’m going to tell you the story of a guy named CM Punk who dreamed to change the world before he quit to enjoy the fine post-coital glow of the Divas champion. This match seemed like a filler main event when it was announced, then some shrewd social media marketing and a sort of important promo at the end of a RAW in Las Vegas turned this into one of the big must-see matches. I’ve contended that, while this isn’t the greatest pro wrestling match of all time, I think it’s up there with Austin/Rock at WM17 as one of the greatest sports entertainment matches ever. The crowd was hot, the storyline and build were magic and the integration into the end of the match made perfect sense. Also, this match took place before The Rock match and the Daniel Bryan match, so the idea of Cena losing as clean as this seemed foreign at the time.
Cena won a version of the title two weeks later.
3. John Cena vs. RVD – One Night Stand II 2006
By the time John Cena got to One Night Stand the anti-Cena crowd was a vocal, vocal minority of guys who were getting tired of him trucking people all the damn time. Guess what: Hammerstein Ballroom was 100 percent those guys. This was the birth of Cena as a heel who gallivants as a white bread babyface. Looking back, you have to respect Cena for going to the belly of the beast and handling the crowd like a pro in an environment where mid-90s HBK would have caved. But at the time…f*ck that. The world that mattered just wanted to see John Cena lose and get embarrassed. So they threw toilet tissue at him and refused to keep his shirt. It was an entire arena taking a deuce on Cena ending in RVD getting a title win about three years after he was legitimately one of the most over guys in the business. This is a coronation of a fan favorite back before he looked like mutant Senator Kelly at the expense of a guy we were all tired of. Viva this match.
2. John Cena vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Edge vs. Chris Jericho vs. Kane vs. Mike Knox (lol) – No Way Out 2009
This is probably one of the more forgotten title changes in Cena’s career but if you go back and watch it, it’s cotdamn beautiful. Edge was allowed in the match after attacking Kofi Kingston and sneaking into his pod, which was allowed for some reason. Then he, Mysterio and Jericho – all familiar with the ways Cena wins everything always – said f*ck it and pulled together to just get him the hell out of the match. So we get a Codebreaker into a 619 into a spear and Cena is gone. In the middle of the match. As the champion. It was as shocking as any loss Cena’s ever had and made all the sense in the world. Then the three guys left had a hell of a match and Cena was an afterthought after being in the match for maybe three minutes.
The Cena won the title back the next month by Attitude Adjusting Big Show and Edge at the same time. For real.
1. John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar – Summerslam 2014
I don’t really have to tell you how perfect this was, do I? It was what we’ve all always wanted to see happen to John Cena for the last decade or so. The best part was that it was the only realistic match Cena’s had in a really long time. It was a display of what really happens when a guy tries to rise above and the odds and he’s not good enough to do it. It’s Peyton Manning getting dump trucked by the Seahawks and it’s glorious. You had to have known this was the top choice, right?
A month later John Cena would…well, he’s dead.