AJ Styles and John Cena have been involved in a war of words and fisticuffs for the better part of a year. Styles made it his mission to #BeatUpJohnCena beginning after WrestleMania last year, and he’s made good on that promise, defeating Cena at SummerSlam and becoming the new “Face That Runs The Place” while Cena became a part timer over the second half of 2016.
It all came to a head at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view on Sunday night, as the two men met for the WWE Championship in the next-to-main event. Styles was attempting to prove that he’s truly the new face of the company, while Cena was gunning for what would be his 16th world championship, which would tie Ric Flair for the most (recognized) reigns all-time.
The fight, as expected, was a hard-hitting, all-out WWE main event-style affair, with both men throwing everything they could at one another and pulling out all the stops.
Styles managed to hit the Styles Clash on Cena, but Cena kicked out. Styles then went for the springboard 450, but Cena got his knees up, and then hit a Code Red for a two-count. Cena hit a Super Attitude Adjustment on Styles off the second rope, but AJ amazingly kicked out.
Cena went for a follow-up Attitude Adjustment, but Styles reversed into a second Styles Clash. Cena grabbed Styles mid-Phenomenal Forearm and hit an AA, then rolled through and hit an immediate follow-up AA to finally get the three-count and capture his 16th world title.
This is Cena’s 13th reign as WWE Champion, in addition to his three reigns as WWE World Heavyweight Champion. He’s also a five-time United States Champion and a five-time tag team champion. His first world title reign came all the way back in 2005, when he defeated JBL at WrestleMania 21.