The history of the Icon vs. The Champ

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January 09, 2009

Last Monday on Raw, Shawn Michaels teamed with World Heavyweight Champion John Cena to defeat Randy Orton & Chris Jericho in tag team action. The biggest news, though, came after the match when it was announced by HBK's employer, JBL, that Michaels would go one-on-one with Cena this Monday night -- two weeks before JBL himself challenges Cena for the title at Royal Rumble.

This is certainly an exciting match-up on paper, but the history between The Champ and The Showstopper adds a whole other aspect to this Raw confrontation.

Many members of the WWE Universe can't help but remember the night after Royal Rumble 2007 when Michaels made it clear that even though he lost the Rumble Match, he would do anything in his power to fight for the WWE Title in the main event at WrestleMania. It was later that same night when he and then-WWE Champion John Cena formed an uneasy alliance against Rated-RKO, World Tag Team Champions Edge and Randy Orton, which was the most devious pairing of two individuals in recent memory. To the fans' delight, the unlikely pairing of The Showstopper and The Champ made Raw history as they defeated the Rated-R Superstar and the Legend Killer to become the new World Tag Team Champions.

Despite their now-common bond in gold, the tension between HBK and Cena continued to grow. After Undertaker stepped up to face Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship, the WWE Champion was left with an open spot for a challenger at WrestleMania 23.

That same night, as appointed by WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon, Orton, Edge and Michaels battled each other for the coveted opportunity to headline WrestleMania. And, it was "Mr. WrestleMania," Shawn Michaels, who took the victory.

With the World Tag Team Champions pitted against each other on the Grandest Stage of Them All, Cena spent several tumultuous weeks not knowing whether or not he could trust Michaels, whose past history suggested that he might strike his own partner with Sweet Chin Music at any given time. His apprehensions were justified less than one week before WrestleMania during a No Way Out rematch against Undertaker & Batista. The band cranked it up to 11 and left The Champ down for the count.

At WrestleMania 23 in Detroit's Ford Field, "Mr. WrestleMania" was unable to seal the deal and John Cena retained his WWE Championship. The very next week on Raw, during the second of two World Tag Team Championship Battle Royals, Michaels made it clear to The Champ that there was unfinished business between the duo as he threw Cena out, costing them both their tag titles.

Gold would be at stake again when Cena and Michaels faced off at Backlash in a Fatal Four Way Match that also featured former World Champions Edge and Randy Orton. But first, HBK and The Champ had an opportunity to lock-up one-on-one as Raw emanated from London. Showing what they were willing to put one another through, the duo faced off in a legendary contest that ended up being one of the longest, sans WWE Iron Man Matches, in recent history. In the end, it was HBK who walked away victorious on Raw after connecting with Sweet Chin Music and pinning The Champ. As the fates would have it, however, Cena went on to prevail when it counted most, retaining his title at Backlash against Michaels, Edge and Orton.

Though some may have forgotten about the history between these two Superstars, it is almost certain that both men remember the hell they put each other through -- especially on that night in England -- and there is a very good chance that they will do it all again this Monday night on Raw 9/8 CT only on USA Network.

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