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Brock and Cena: Their turbulent history

Brock Lesnar returns to Raw and attacks John Cena.

Before Brock Lesnar sent John Cena crashing to the mat with an F-5 on Raw SuperShow, there was a striking moment of déjà vu. The look in both of their eyes made it all seem like this wasn't a random collision between WWE Superstars. You got the sense there was something bubbling hot under the surface. ( PHOTOS)

We can't begin to determine why Lesnar came back and immediately targeted Cena. Trying to do that would be futile. As evidenced on Raw, Brock is unpredictably dangerous. His vicious attack could've been about making a statement to the entire WWE Universe, or perhaps he wanted to send a lasting message to the Cenation leader – just like he did nearly a decade ago.

As it turns out, these two have a rocky history dating back to 2003 – one that includes scathing insults, the birth of Cena's finishing maneuver, and a hard-fought clash for the WWE Championship. While the WWE Universe waits to learn more about Brock's intentions coming out of that shocking assault, it's the perfect time to trace where the bad blood first boiled over between Lesnar and Cena. 

Feb. 6, 2003: Cena calls out Lesnar for the first time

John Cena uses a battle rap to call out Brock Lesnar for the first time on SmackDown.

Cena and Lesnar were on two very different roads in 2003. Lesnar was an established title contender in hot pursuit of the second WWE Championship of his young career. Cena, on the other hand, was a cocky, trash-talking Superstar on the rise who was trying to make a name for himself at all costs.

On the Feb. 6, 2003 edition of SmackDown, a rambunctious, rappin' Cena used one of his patented freestyles to unleash words of fury on "The Next Big Thing." Taking shots at Brock's intelligence, appearance, and even the F-5, Cena challenged Lesnar to a match on the following week's SmackDown. It was a bold move for the former "Doctor of Thuganomics," but it certainly grabbed the WWE Universe's – and Brock's – attention. 

Feb. 13, 2003: Lesnar shows Cena the meaning of pain

On SmackDown, Brock Lesnar makes a statement to Kurt Angle at the expense of John Cena with a vicious F-5 into the steel post.

Cena wasn't done poking fun at Lesnar as they fought for the first time on the Feb. 13, 2003 edition of SmackDown. He provoked the beast with a pre-match freestyle, mocking Lesnar with lines like, "God build me strong, forget to give me brain." Brock then made Cena pay for disrespecting him with punishing blows before Cena nearly pulled off an upset by smashing Lesnar's head with a steel chain.

After Brock ultimately powered back and defeated Cena with a powerful F-5, he made an example out of him with another F-5 into the steel ring post that wrecked the Cenation leader's knee.

March 2003: Back on his feet, Cena calls out Lesnar again

An injured John Cena lets Brock Lesnar know that he is coming for him.

Cena didn't keep quiet while recouping from the knee injury inflicted by Lesnar. In a series of insult-laced freestyles aired on SmackDown, The Cenation Commander-in-Chief warned Brock that he would seek revenge for the F-5 that put him out of action for several weeks. Claiming that Lesnar had awoken his more intense side, Cena vowed to take out all of his pent-up aggression on Brock when he returned to SmackDown.

March 27, 2003: Cena gives the F-5 a serious adjustment

John Cena defeats Rikishi on SmackDown and debuts a finishing move that looks familiar to the F-5, then heads to the back looking for a fight with Brock Lesnar.

Returning to SmackDown on March 27, 2003, Cena entered himself in a No. 1 Contender's Tournament for an opportunity to face Lesnar for the WWE Title at Backlash. Cena wasted no time proving his intensity against his first opponent in the tournament, Rikishi. He wore the 350-pounder down and finished him off with a new, modified version of the F-5, which later became known as the Attitude Adjustment. In essence, the very finishing move that helped carry Cena to the top of WWE was something he conceived to anger Lesnar. After the contest, Cena called Brock out to the ring, and then charged to the backstage area to brawl with Lesnar when he didn't get an answer.

The Cenation leader went on to win the No. 1 Contender's Tournament, defeating Eddie Guerrero and Undertaker along the way, to earn his sought-after rematch against Lesnar at Backlash. Throughout the tournament, Cena continued to use the modified F-5 as his finisher to conquer his challengers, fanning the flames of his growing rivalry with Brock in the process.

April 24, 2003: Battered and bruised, Lesnar stands strong

John Cena makes an impactful statement to Brock Lesnar on SmackDown prior to their WWE Championship clash at Backlash.

On the April 24, 2003 edition of SmackDown, Cena showed he would go to any lengths in his quest to take the WWE Championship from Brock. The Cenation Commander-in-Chief interfered in Lesnar's match just days before Backlash and brutalized Brock with the WWE Title and attempted to humiliate him with the modified F-5/Attitude Adjustment. As Cena came back to the ring to taunt Lesnar, though, he found himself caught in the whirlwind of Brock's F-5. Cena's merciless assault seemed to only feed Brock's hunger to teach him a painful lesson with the championship on the line.

April 27, 2003: Brock breaks Cena down at Backlash

John Cena and Brock Lesnar's titanic battle spills outside the ring with the supreme prize on the line in a WWE Championship Match at Backlash on April 27, 2003.

With a bandage covering the wound from Cena's attack, Lesnar took the early advantage at Backlash by exerting his freakish strength to overpower his smaller opponent. A determined Cena rallied back and pinpointed the WWE Champion's injury by sending him headfirst into the steel ring steps and ring post. However, when Cena tried to worsen the damage with a steel chain, the referee stopped him in his tracks, giving Brock an opening to bring the pain with the decisive F-5.

Their rivalry ended at Backlash in 2003, but Cena's precipitous rise in WWE was only just beginning. The budding Superstar kept climbing the ranks and captured the WWE Title a whopping 10 times, while Brock departed WWE in 2004 as a three-time WWE Champion and achieved great success in the world of mixed martial arts.

It wouldn't come as a surprise to discover that Lesnar's hatred for Cena is still thriving nearly a decade later. And if Lesnar's return to WWE is driven by a grudge after all these years, Cena better watch out – because history tells us that Brock's rage cannot be ridiculed.

Did Brock purposely try to reignite his past rivalry with Cena? Or did he put the bull's eye on him for the sheer enjoyment of inflicting more pain in WWE? Let us know what you think on our Facebook and Twitter pages!

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