Pro Wrestling

John Cena’s 10 Most Memorable Feuds Source:

Love him or hate him, the fact of the matter is that John Cena has been one of the greatest WWE Superstars of all time. His charisma, his wrestling ability, and his work ethic have all been incomparable. But you can’t truly be the best if you don’t have a long line of quality opponents to face off against, providing you with feuds that wrestling fans can remember forever. Fortunately for John Cena, he’s had a number of fantastic opponents who have helped him reach his legendary status as the absolute top of the heap in the modern WWE.

10. The Miz

No, we’re not talking about their WrestleMania XXVII feud, where Cena basically spent the entire time looking past The Miz in favor of special guest host The Rock, which basically tanked Miz’s title reign and resulted in one of the worst WrestleMania main events in history. We’re going back to 2009, after Miz had just split from his successful and long-running tag team with John Morrison, and was getting his first real chance to be a singles star. To that end, Miz came out on Raw and challenged Cena to a match, which Miz won. By forfeit, because John Cena was injured at the time and couldn’t respond to the open challenge. That didn’t stop Miz, however, who would continue to call out Cena every week and then claim another victory over the biggest star in WWE when Cena failed to show, even wearing an armband that displayed his “undefeated” record over Cena. Of course, when Cena finally did return from injury, he squashed Miz like a bug, but Miz had already used that time to establish his character, and would use that momentum to go on an impressive run that would lead him to his first WWE Championship just over a year later. Source:

9. The Undertaker

Speaking of establishing characters, this was the feud that would fully move Cena away from being a goofy mid-card rapper and into an actual contender. In 2003, already having gained a harder edge during a quick feud with new WWE Champion Brock Lesnar (that was more intended to give Brock an easy victory while Kurt Angle rehabbed his neck injury), Cena moved on to challenge the biggest dog in the Smackdown yard: The Undertaker. His mostly comical freestyle raps took on a more serious tone, as Cena attempted to establish himself as a threat to the legendary wrestler. The Undertaker would defeat Cena in their Pay Per View match, and Cena actually never got a decisive victory in that feud. In fact, after that year, John Cena and The Undertaker have never again faced off in a one-on-one encounter. After his feud with Taker, Cena moved into one with Kurt Angle, which helped show off his wrestling skills, and actually culminated in Cena’s face turn at Survivor Series 2003 (ironically, one driven by increasingly positive fan response), one he never looked back from. Source:

8. Umaga

In 2007, Cena spent most of the year showing that he could have good matches with just about anyone on the roster, starting with the undefeated Samoan Bulldozer, Umaga. While Umaga had been amassing mostly easy victories over lower card wrestlers for most of the year leading up to his feud with Cena, nobody really expected him to be able to put on anything resembling a watchable main event match. However, at the New Year’s Revolution Pay Per View, the two men put on an excellent match controlled mostly by the bigger man, as Umaga dominated the match with impressive power moves, and nearly had Cena defeated before the WWE Champion escaped with a fluke pin, retaining his title. Following that, a re-match at the Royal Rumble was fought under Last Man Standing rules. With the stakes now raised, Cena and Umaga put on a classic match, one which ranked highly in Match of the Year voting, and exceeded everyone’s expectations in regards to both men’s abilities. Cena would go on to cement his reputation as one of the most under-rated wrestlers in WWE for the rest of the year, having shockingly good matches in feuds with The Great Khali and a talented but massively inexperienced Bobby Lashley. Source:

7. Kevin Owens

This feud might not have happened had Sami Zayn not injured his shoulder during his US Open Challenge against Cena, and that would have been too bad. Owens brought a different sort of story into a feud with Cena. Despite being presented as an up-and-coming NXT star (he’d actually debuted on NXT less than a year earlier), Owens made it clear that he was a veteran wrestler who’d actually been active on the independent circuit even before Cena had started wrestling. In fact, Owens was John Cena, but Cena if he’d never gotten the opportunity to train and be in WWE from nearly the start of his career, and had instead been forced to fight his way there over many years, becoming bitter and angry in the process. Owens didn’t need to prove himself, he knew he was better than Cena, and indeed, in his first match as a member of the WWE roster, he defeated John Cena cleanly, on Pay-Per-View, in a spectacular match. Cena would ultimately win the feud with Owens and prevent him from winning the United States title, but in the process, Owens established himself as a force in WWE, someone who could be one of the biggest stars in wrestling in the very near future. Source:

6. Batista

Cena and Batista were almost destined to face off against each other at some point, given how both of them ended WrestleMania 21 by winning their first World titles and setting the stage for two long and successful careers. Both were cornerstones of their respective brands, and for the most part, they were kept separate. And as both grew and evolved into huge stars, the specter of a match between them always loomed. The two finally met one-on-one for the first time in a hastily-constructed but suitably epic SummerSlam match in 2008, where Batista somehow shockingly defeated Cena, in a match so brutal that both men ended up sidelined with serious injuries. They would not face each other again until 2010, when they finally engaged in a long feud over the WWE Championship, with several excellent matches. Cena ultimately triumphed, and Batista would leave WWE immediately afterwards to pursue an acting career. Source:

5. The Rock

To be fair, you’d have to work really hard not to have The Rock on your list of memorable feuds. The guy made The Hurricane look like a legitimate contender for a few weeks. Of course, the whole plan of headlining back-to-back WrestleManias with Rock vs Cena may not have worked great from a creative standpoint, particularly when the re-match put the WWE Title on the line and ended CM Punk’s historic streak in the process, and the matches were good, but not spectacular, since for all his good qualities The Rock’s wrestling skills are nowhere close to what they used to be. However, the feud was mostly sold on the charisma and excellent promo work of both men, and in the lead-up to their two matches they both brought everything necessary to the table to make their confrontation seem epic. Unlike other WWE Superstars, a Rock return, especially a wrestling return, still means a lot, and while some may quibble about Cena being given more victories that he didn’t really need instead of other talent that could have used the rub, Cena-Rock was still a dream feud that millions of people were happy to see. Source:

4. Brock Lesnar

If the day ever comes where John Cena truly becomes an unstoppable threat to national security, there is perhaps one man in the entire world who could have a better-than-even chance of bringing him down. That man is, to the surprise of likely nobody, Brock Lesnar, The Beast Incarnate. Over both his stints in WWE, no man has had an easier time dominating the man who has been the gold standard by which all other WWE Superstars are measured. They have had multiple matches, and in all of them, Brock has proven to be the stronger. In fact, Cena has only pinned Brock Lesnar a single time in all their matches, in Brock’s very first match following his return to WWE, and that was due to a lucky series of events that occurred after Lesnar had spent a great deal of time absolutely dismantling Cena. In the years that followed, if anything, Brock has become even more powerful, highlighted by his absolute destruction of Cena at SummerSlam 2014, and he remains one of the few men in WWE that Cena cannot get an advantage against. Source:

3. Randy Orton

This feud gets most of its points from longevity, if nothing else, because Cena and Orton have been fighting each other for most of their WWE careers. At one point, WWE even tried to pretend that they were finally going to blow off their long-running feud and never face each other again. That didn’t last long, but the effort was there. And thanks to WWE’s unending promotion of both men, their long-running feud has never failed to at least feel epic, if occasionally forced. In the ring, they’ve worked well together with a certain intensity that comes from facing each other so many times, and when necessary, some brutal gimmick matches have helped ratchet up the emotion. While the feud between these men may be played out at this point, there is no doubt that facing each other had a significant impact on their careers, and their character progression throughout their time in WWE. And if it hasn’t quite been WWE’s version of Batman vs Joker, Orton has still been a prominent and memorable addition to Cena’s personal Rogue’s Gallery. Source:

2. CM Punk

Few people meshed as well together from a wrestling perspective as John Cena and CM Punk. When those two men have done to each other inside a ring has created some of the most classic matches in wrestling history. Both are among the most talented wrestlers of their generation, and whenever they have worked together, they have seemed to drive each other to attempt things that they would never do with other opponents. Adding to the intensity of their feuds has been the crowd reaction. While Punk was rising in popularity with the “smart” fans, Cena was reaching all-time lows with that same demographic, leading to sharply divided crowd reactions. The problem was, that reaction, both positive and negative, was directed entirely at Cena and ignored whomever his opponent was, making it hard for them to truly find any momentum from feuding with Cena. However, by setting Punk and Cena against each other, WWE finally found an opponent that allowed half the audience to channel their dislike for Cena’s perceived character stagnation into support for CM Punk, and the atmosphere it would create during their matches was truly unique. Source:

1. Edge

While Punk and Cena may have had the better matches, nobody worked together quite as well as John Cena and the Rated R Superstar, Edge. As a sleazy opportunist who took every shortcut in the book, Edge was the perfect foil for the clean-cut, All-American persona of John Cena, and both men played their characters to the hilt. When they were feuding, there was a very real sense that they actually did hate each other, and ultimately, that between the two of them, only one could be allowed to remain. It was truly a case of WWE not being big enough for both philosophies to survive, which is why it was a very good thing that they could occasionally be separated between brands. However, life kept throwing both men together in a variety of roles, from hated enemies to reluctant allies. Even when they were both ostensibly on the same side, as in the Nexus invasion angle, they just couldn’t entirely put their pasts aside and work together. Their personal credos just wouldn’t allow them to truly be friends. Coincidentally, when Edge made his triumphant return from injury to win the Royal Rumble and kick off what would be his final year as an active wrestler, it was John Cena whom he would eliminate last to give him the one accomplishment that had escaped him during a decorated career. Cena himself has said that Edge was likely his greatest, and most respected, opponent, and who are we to argue with that? Source:

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle is an avid wrestling and film fan. He's been writing about WWE, movies, and video games for Goliath since 2015.