SmackDown Women's Champion Naomi admits she prepared for a serious challenge from Lana or an unexpected one from the new Ms. Money in the Bank ... or the male Superstar who influenced the result.06/18/2017 - 22:45
The Hype Bros hope their strong showing in the Money in the Bank 2017 Kickoff Match will help them get back to business in their chase for the SmackDown Tag Team Titles.06/18/2017 - 21:00
At Money in the Bank 2017, James Ellsworth believes the first-ever Women's Money in the Bank Ladder Match will lead to a historic night for the only entrant who hails from Staten Island, N.Y.06/18/2017 - 18:45
Shane Thorne & Nick Miller, Johnny Gargano, The Iconic Duo and more NXT Superstars reveal the people who had the most profound influence on their sports-entertainment careers.11/22/2017 - 20:30
The Road Dogg & Billy Gunn cause chaos to capture their first Tag Team Championship at the expense of Hawk & Animal.11/22/2017 - 12:30
Battle ready: Recapping Cena’s big-match “firsts”
How will Cena’s lack of experience affect his odds of taking home the highly prized guaranteed contract? Though the Money in the Bank Ladder Match is an especially unpredictable contest, can we ascertain anything about the Cenation leader’s chances July 15 by examining past examples of Cena’s maiden voyages into big-game situations, whether it was his first match on The Grandest Stage of Them All, his first Elimination Chamber or some other match type?
First televised match – SmackDown (June 27, 2002)
Would Cena improve upon his showing in his first match on pay-per-view?
First pay-per-view match – Vengeance 2002 (July 21, 2002)
Would Cena’s success carry all the way over to January 2003 and his first experience in the Royal Rumble Match?
First Royal Rumble Match – Royal Rumble 2003 (Jan. 19, 2003)
Cena may not have won, but few Superstars prevail in the Royal Rumble Match their first time out. How would the determined Cenation leader fare the following year in his first WrestleMania showing?
First WrestleMania – WrestleMania XX (March 14, 2004)
Would the same be true for the Hustle-Loyalty-Respect advocate in his very first “I Quit” Match?
First “I Quit” Match – Judgment Day 2005 (May 22, 2005)
In the ensuing years, Cena would go on to defeat Randy Orton, Batista and The Miz in “I Quit” Matches, all but cementing the match format as one of Cena’s specialties. Would Cena’s first experience in a Tables Match prove as fruitful?
First Tables Match – Raw (Sept. 26, 2005)
Would Cena’s luck change in time for his maiden voyage inside the Elimination Chamber?
First Elimination Chamber – New Year’s Revolution (Jan. 8, 2006)
After the contest, Cena fell victim to a surprise Money in the Bank championship contract cash-in by Edge. Even though he didn’t leave New Year’s Revolution as champion, Cena might have found some solace in the fact his hand was raised after competing in one of the most dangerous battlegrounds in all of WWE. Would he be able to maintain the edge in his Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match debut?
First Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match – Unforgiven 2006 (Sept. 17, 2006)
With his debuts in most of WWE’s unorthodox match formats behind him, would the Cenation leader be able to attain victory stepping into Hell in a Cell?
First Hell in a Cell Match – Hell in a Cell 2009 (Oct. 4, 2009)
What, if anything, does Cena’s track record of “firsts” tell us about his odds heading into his debut Money in the Bank Ladder Match? As his bout against JBL proved, Cena absolutely refuses to quit, which will only help him come Sunday, July 15. His first TLC Match against Edge showed that the Cenation leader can hold his own against a Superstar who is much more experienced in a specific match format. Further, his epic finale to that match displayed a creative flair that Cena rarely has a chance to let shine. (And innovation, if nothing else, is beneficial in the chaotic Money in the Bank Ladder Match.)
On the flip side, Cena is not unbeatable, as his track record makes clear. Yet, the Money in the Bank Ladder Match is an animal unlike any other, and it seems misleading to compare it to other matches that don’t necessarily share the most unpredictable elements (e.g., multiple participants, a non-elimination-style process to determine the winner).
Perhaps a review of Cena’s “firsts” tells us less about his odds for victory July 15 and more about Cena, the never-say-die competitor. Regardless, when Cena steps into the ring against four fellow former WWE Champions at Money in the Bank, his objective will be clear: to return to the top echelon of title contenders.