Cena's bittersweet triumph
Standing atop a 16 foot ladder, John Cena reached up and grabbed the WWE Championship after giving Edge an FU off the top of the precarious contraption, sending him crashing through two tables below. His music blared and his fans went wild, but with the championship in hand, Cena clenched his jaw and dropped his head. It seemed he was impervious to the excitement and celebration all around him.
Many who watched Unforgiven Sunday night wondered why Cena looked so pissed after overcoming unbelievable odds to defeat Edge in his hometown, in the match of his choice for the WWE Championship. Considering the long and bitter rivalry between the two, most would've expected Cena to stand triumphant and celebrate. After the match, WWE.com searched high and low for the new champ to find out what was going on behind his angst-ridden eyes. While the entire locker room celebrated and said emotional goodbyes to Trish Stratus, Cena was tucked away in a quiet corner with his championship and his head in his hands.
"As much as I don't agree with the tactics of my opponent," said a solemn Cena, "you have to show a certain amount of respect for a guy who maybe isn't the most popular guy in the yearbook, but fought like a f*cking animal with his city behind him."
Edge came out to a standing ovation from the rabid Toronto audience. The Rated-R Superstar was moved to tears by the outpouring of love and support from his hometown. Right before the bell rang to start the match, he gave himself several hard slaps across the face to get his head back in the game.
"It was just a soft side of Edge that I'd never seen before," Cena reflected. "I didn't think he had it in him. I know he gave me his all and I'm damn proud to walk out of there with my head high, but sh*t, I wouldn't call him a loser tonight."
The men competed in one of the most dangerous matches there is, the Tables Ladders and Chairs Match. Until Sunday night, it was a match that Edge considered his Forte and one Cena had never competed in.
"It just got real violent real quick," admitted Cena. "There are moments where your career flashes before your eyes and for a second you don't think you're going to make it through the match, let alone win or lose. There was a moment where Edge had just gone through a table off a ladder, and I previously had gone through one, so I know how that feels. I saw those two tables there, I tried to finish the job on the floor with a chair shot and I said, 'f*ck it, I'll just get him in the ring and finish the job.' But then I said, 'it's about winning the title, it's not about ending a career.' So I went up on the ladder and to be honest with you, the way it went down, what was done needed to be done and nothing more than that. This is a very violent, competitive sport; you never want to end anybody's career… God, I hope Edge is all right."
With the violence and brutality came a new level of respect for his opponent. Cena understands what it means compete in front of your hometown having lost to the Rated-R Superstar in Boston at SummerSlam.
"I knew what was going through Edge's mind and he didn't want to quit," explained Cena, "so I had to do what I had to do to win."
Cena's show of respect for Edge should not be taken as a sign of lack of enthusiasm for becoming WWE Champion again. He lost the championship back in June at ECW's One Night Stand, when Paul Heyman and Edge worked together to screw him in order for Rob Van Dam to win. While Cena has always been a fierce competitor, things got personal about a month ago, when Edge went to Cena's home and attacked the most important person in his life, his father.
"It's a very, very big win and I'm very happy to hold this for a third time," Cena said clutching his championship, "but I know the only person in the crowd who's going to give me a hug is my old man. I spotted him in the first row and it was just one of those moments that I'll remember forever."