John Cena vs. The Rock Timeline

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October 28, 2011

When The Rock and John Cena announced that they were going to headline WrestleMania XXVIII, they made history. And it’s their history in WWE that is at the heart of their feud. Take a look back at the legendary careers that led these two icons to their showdown on The Grandest Stage of Them All. Plus, check out their Road to WrestleMania XXVIII playlist to see exactly how this rivalry came to be.


The RockNovember 17, 1996
The first-ever third-generation Superstar, Rocky Maivia debuts at Survivor Series in a match alongside Marc Mero, Jake Roberts and The Stalker with Sable. After eliminating Crush and Goldust, he becomes his team’s Sole Survivor, proving to the WWE Universe that he is indeed a force to be reckoned with. (WATCH)

February 13, 1997
Maivia defeats Triple H for the Intercontinental Championship - his first singles title - during a special Thursday edition of Raw. Due to this surprising defeat, the WWE Universe begins to turn on him, believing that he has too much momentum for a rookie. 

March 23, 1997
In his first appearance at The Show of Shows, Maivia successfully defends his I-C Title against The Sultan. After the match, a disgruntled Sultan and his managers attack Maivia, but the legendary Rocky Johnson comes out to help his son.

November 15, 1998
After dubbing himself The Rock, The Great One enters the Deadly Game Tournament at Survivors Series and outlasts 13 Superstars to win the first of his many WWE Championships. He is now a crowd favorite, etching a name for himself in history with his original catchphrases and infamous eyebrow. (WATCH)

March 28, 1999
The Rock faces "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in a No DQ Match at WrestleMania XV for the WWE Championship. Although he becomes the first Superstar to kick out of the Stunner, he fails to defeat The Texas Rattlesnake. (WATCH)

September 27, 1999
Mankind presents a video titled "This Is Your Life", which features The Rock and all the characters from his past. The People’s Champ is not amused as the segment unfolds, but this episode of Raw becomes the most popular in the show’s history, garnering the highest ratings of any other segment to date. 

January 15, 2000
The Great One’s autobiography, “The Rock Says…”, hits stores and becomes an instant bestseller. This action-packed, revealing and hilarious memoir showcases his personality like never before, and proves that he is indeed The Most Electrifying Man in Entertainment.

Big Show - RockJanuary 23, 2000
The Rock enters the Royal Rumble at No. 24 and eliminates six fellow Superstars for the win. In the final moments of the event, Big Show nearly finishes him off with a slam, but The Rock hangs on and throws the 441-pound monster over the rope. (WATCH)

March 18, 2000
The Rock hosts "Saturday Night Live". The People’s Champion later cites the success of that episode as the catalyst for Hollywood’s increasing interest in him.

May 4, 2001
The Rock’s first movie - "The Mummy Returns" - is released, and officially launches his acting career. His performance in the sequel inspires the 2002 spinoff "The Scorpion King". 

April 1, 2001
The People’s Champ faces Steve Austin at WrestleMania X-Seven, where The Rattlesnake beats him for a second time. This nearly 30-minute bout sees the two competitors grapple all over the arena, and includes the shocking reveal that "Stone Cold" had aligned himself with Mr. McMahon. (WATCH)

March 17, 2002The Rock locks the Sharpshooter on Hollywood Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania X8
In an “Icon vs. Icon” Match, The Rock meets Hollywood Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania X8. The Rock claims the victory, but as a sign of his respect for the legend, he allows Hogan to pose in the ring and receive his due from the audience. 

July 21, 2002
At Vengeance, The Rock beats Kurt Angle and Undertaker in a Triple Threat Match for the Undisputed WWE Championship, officially winning his last WWE Title. His final reign would not last long, however, as he would lose the title the following month at SummerSlam to Brock Lesnar. 

March 30, 2003
In their final match at The Show of Shows, The Rock defeats "Stone Cold" Steve Austin after hitting him with three consecutive Rock Bottoms, to the delight of the WWE Universe. This match ends their career-long, unforgettable feud, leaving the scorecard hanging at 1-2. (WATCH)

March 14, 2004
The Rock and Mankind, as the Rock ’n’ Sock Connection, lose to Evolution in what is heretofore known as The Rock’s last match. After WrestleMania XX, he takes his leave and focuses solely on his acting career. (WATCH)

February 14, 2011
On a Monday night that The WWE Universe will not soon forget, The Rock returns to the ring after almost seven years and reveals that he will be hosting WrestleMania XXVII. In a 20-minute promo, he calls out John Cena, setting the stage for the greatest showdown in WWE history. 

 The Rock and John Cena agree to wrestle each other April 1, 2012, at WrestleMania XXVIII.April 4, 2011
In a move that shakes WWE to its core, The Rock and John Cena agree to meet at WrestleMania XXVIII the following year in Miami. Never before has a ’Mania match been announced a year in advance. The countdown to April officially begins! (PHOTOS)

July 13, 2011
The Rock cuts a promo on YouTube in response to more of John Cena’s public comments. It is here that he hints to the WWE Universe that he will be back sooner than expected.

November 14, 2011
Raw SuperShow gets "rocked," as The Great One returns weeks after John Cena picked him to be his tag team partner for a match against The Miz and R-Truth at Survivor Series. Besides giving birth to the hashtag-friendly phrase #BootsToAsses, The Rock finds himself confronted by The Miz and R-Truth. Cena comes to The Rock’s rescue, but the aid appears unwanted, if not unnecessary, as two Rock Bottoms clear the ring of The Miz and R-Truth. (PHOTOS)

November 20, 2011
Though their partnership is an uneasy one, John Cena and The Rock inconceivably coexist long enough to defeat The Miz and R-Truth in the main event of Survivor Series. After the bout, The Rock fells Cena with the Rock Bottom. (PHOTOS)

February 27, 2012
The Rock returns to Raw SuperShow, tells the live audience in Portland, Ore., that he lives to entertain the WWE Universe, and tears into Cena with trash-talking. "This is my truth: If it weren’t for the WWE, and if it weren’t for all of you, The Rock would never exist," he says. After Raw goes off the air, The Rock name-checks Don Owens and Roddy Piper in recounting the time he spent in Portland as a child. (WATCH)

March 5, 2012The Rock chucks some lesser-known pieces of John Cena merchandise into the Boston Harbor.
With Raw SuperShow airing from John Cena's home turf of Boston, The Rock films several vignettes at historical sites in town. He tailors the "history lessons" to Cena, at one point hurling pieces of Cena merchandise into the Boston Harbor. (PHOTOS)

March 12, 2012
The Great One hosts the third-ever "Rock Concert." Six-string in hand, The Rock - to the tune of Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock" - lobs golden-voiced girds in the direction of his WrestleMania XXVIII opponent. (WATCH | PHOTOS)

March 19, 2012
In Philadelphia for Raw SuperShow, The Rock delivers an intense interview while standing in the shadow of a statue commemorating “Rocky.” He pinpoints highlights from his own career and walks the WWE Universe through his plans for John Cena at Wrestlemania XXVIII. (WATCH)



Kurt Angle - John CenaJune 27, 2002
John Cena makes his debut on SmackDown by answering an open challenge from Kurt Angle. No one expected a newcomer to run down to the ring, and even though he suffered his first loss, the WWE Universe would take note of his bravery.

October 31, 2002
During a special Halloween edition of Raw, Cena dresses as rapper Vanilla Ice and drops some serious rhymes. Soon he will openly challenge other Superstars to freestyle rap battles. Crowds all over the world begin to mimic his five-finger wave, and many more begin to respect his individuality and creativity.

March 14, 2004
Cena wins his first singles title, the United States Championship, by defeating Big Show at WMXX. In a show of true strength and power, he unleashes an Attitude Adjustment on The World’s Largest Athlete. 

April 3, 2005John Cena wins his first WWE Championship by beating JBL at WrestleMania 21.
JBL controls most of their WrestleMania 21 bout by doing everything he possibly can to shake Cena and take the win. But The Champ pulls through in the end, and walks away with his first WWE Championship. 

April 14, 2005
Cena debuts a custom WWE Championship, blinging out his title with a real working spinner and announcing that, “The Champ is here!” And so is that distinctive championship! 

May 10, 2005
Cena’s album, You Can’t See Me, is released and becomes an instant hit. Finally getting a chance to showcase his musical talents, his song, The Time is Now, makes waves and to this day serves as his official entrance theme. 

October 13, 2006
Making his film debut, Cena takes over the big screen as John Triton in the action-packed drama The Marine. 

John CenaJanuary 27, 2008
The Cenation Commander in Chief wins the Royal Rumble after a shocking return to the ring that takes everyone in attendance at MSG by surprise. Entering in the No. 30 position, Cena proves that old adage about saving the best for last. (WATCH)

February 26, 2008
Cena puts The Rock’s loyalty to WWE on notice in the pages of The Sun, stating that: “Our fan base has so much admiration for him, he’s got to respect that. He doesn’t give anything back.” Needless to say, these words would not be forgotten.

May 23, 2010
In an unforgettable “I Quit” Match at WWE Over The Limit, Cena faces off against Batista in the main event. In what would become a Slammy Award-winning moment, The Champ’s Attitude Adjustment from atop a car effectively sends The Animal running from WWE.

October 3, 2010
For the better part of 2010, Cena is tormented by The Nexus, a Rookie stable of WWE NXT members led by Season 1 winner Wade Barrett. At WWE Hell In A Cell, Cena is defeated by Barrett and forced to join his faction.

February 21, 2011
A week after The Rock’s return, Cena responds to his accusations and fights back verbally with an invented rap about The Brahma Bull. This is only the beginning of what will become a yearlong public feud.

May 2, 2011
During the celebration of The Rock’s 39th birthday, Cena vows that he will hold the WWE Championship next April when the two meet, officially turning their future bout into a main-event match for the title. (PHOTOS)

October 2, 2011
Cena loses the WWE Championship to Alberto Del Rio during a Triple Threat Match with CM Punk at WWE Hell In A Cell. Since he is no longer holding the gold, the moment has come to regain it in time for WrestleMania XXVIII.

February 19, 2012
Dragged into a rivalry by a hate-obsessed Kane, The Cenation Commander in Chief seemingly vanquishes The Big Red Machine in a hard-hitting Ambulance Match at WWE's Elimination Chamber 2012. Cena shoves an incapacitated Kane into the ambulance after giving the masked monster an Attitude Adjustment off the ambulance's roof. (PHOTOS)

February 20, 2012
Cena vows to defeat The Rock at WrestleMania. "This is the part where I'm supposed to say I look forward to WrestleMania because I personally respect The Rock. I don't." (WATCH)

February 27, 2012
With The Rock holding court, mid-ring, on Raw SuperShow, Cena interrupts the festivities and quickly draws attention to crib notes written on The Rock’s wrist. (WATCH)

March 5, 2012
Cena claims he did the unthinkable on the Feb. 27, 2012, edition of Raw SuperShow by leaving The Rock – whom Cena describes as the “Michael Jordan of the mic” – tongue-tied. The Rock enters the ring and immediately dismisses that possibility. In a rare moment of agreement, Cena and The Rock both say that if Cena loses their “Once in a Lifetime” match at WrestleMania, the loss will negate all of Cena’s many hard-earned WWE accomplishments.

March 12, 2012
Reverting back to his old-school "Doctor of Thuganomics" persona, Cena launches into a battle rap against The Great One, calling The Rock "G.I. Joke." (WATCH | PHOTOS)

March 19, 2012
After his SUV was involved in a three-car accident in the morning, Cena is cleared for action and defeats Mark Henry with a thunderous Attitude Adjustment. The Rock, making good on his promise to send Cena a message, enters the ring and then drops The World’s Strongest Man with a Rock Bottom. (WATCH | PHOTOS)

March 26, 2012
In their final faceoff before WrestleMania XXVIII, Cena and The Rock made crystal clear the stakes of their "Once in a Lifetime" bout. (WATCH PART 1WATCH PART 2 | PHOTOS)

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