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WWE Champion Randy Orton def. World Heavyweight Champion John Cena (Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match)

WWE Champion Randy Orton def. World Heavyweight Champion John Cena (Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match)

HOUSTON — In what was the most pivotal match in WWE’s 50-year history, WWE Champion Randy Orton defeated World Heavyweight Champion John Cena in a harrowing Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match to unify sports-entertainment’s two most integral titles and become the first-ever WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

See photos from the grueling encounter

It was the beginning of a brave new world for WWE and — as is often the case with change — it did not come without a price. If the road map of cuts and bruises on the bodies of both Cena and Orton don’t tell the story, the image of the Cenation leader lying unconscious against a table with one arm handcuffed to the ring rope and the other twisted underneath his massive body surely will.

That was how this historic match ended, but it began just as ugly. Although the career rivals started the bout with an exchange of straight holds, things quickly deteriorated as Orton introduced a ladder into the ring within minutes of the opening bell. The first major offensive maneuver also belonged to The Viper, who buckled The Champ with a chair blast that reverberated throughout the Toyota Center with a cringe-inducing bang.

Watch every bout between John Cena and Randy Orton

If The Authority had questioned Orton’s passion in order to inspire him, it clearly worked. The Viper seemed to be The Legend Killer of old, keeping Cena grounded with deliberate chair shots and picking at his bones with slow, methodical stomps and kicks. Whenever The Champ managed to fight his way back into the contest, Orton would cut him off at the knees — even stopping a Five Knuckle Shuffle attempt with a brilliantly placed kick to Cena’s head.

WWE Champion Randy Orton def. World Heavyweight Champion John Cena (Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match)

Of course, trying to keep John Cena down is like pushing a boulder uphill. Proving himself to be every bit as willing to get his hands dirty as his opponent, the Cenation leader put The Viper on his back, scaled the ladder and dropped a fist into his rival’s face instead of reaching for the titles. Using some sharp strategy, Cena didn’t chase the championships. Instead, he bided his time until Orton got back on his feet, then drove a ladder into him, sending him off the apron and through a table.

Fifteen feet above the ring, the WWE and World Heavyweight Titles hung from a golden apparatus, but they might as well have been a mile away. As Cena began his ascent to immortality, The Viper impossibly made his way back into the ring, knocked The Champ from his perch and connected with a picture-perfect RKO. The glorious carnage left both men incapacitated in the center of the ring as an ecstatic Houston crowd rumbled around them.

Relive Orton and Cena's five most brutal matches

When the Superstars staggered to their feet, the match truly began to resemble something closer to a bar fight as the combatants exchanged headbutts and full fists. Cena finally dropped Orton by driving the steel ring steps into him, but The Viper took command yet again by blasting the Cenation leader with a microphone, then stomping his head into the steel ring steps.

Taking his time, Orton waited for Cena to begin to struggle to his feet before he attempted to punt The Champ. Somehow, though, Cena avoided The Viper’s boot, spun him around and drove him through the Spanish announce table with a resounding Attitude Adjustment.

WWE Champion Randy Orton def. World Heavyweight Champion John Cena (Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match)

Now moving in slow motion after the physical trauma he had been subjected to, the World Heavyweight Champion made his way up the ladder. Yet, Orton — rising again like the monster in a horror movie — ripped the ladder out from under him. The Cenation leader made the mistake of holding onto the hanging apparatus, which only allowed for The Viper to bash him with a steel chair like he was teeing off on a piñata.

The most pivotal moment in this historic match came moments after Cena drove Orton though a table with a desperate tackle. Clearly, the act took something out of both men — possibly more out of Cena — but it sent Orton to the outside, where he retrieved a pair of handcuffs he had brilliantly hidden under a ringside mat.

Employing an enviable bit of strategy, The Viper shackled The Champ to the bottom rope before taunting his opponent with the hubris of a James Bond villain. After tossing the keys into the audience, Orton slowly moved up the ladder, but he failed to notice what Cena was doing down below.

Ingeniously unscrewing the bottom turnbuckle, The Champ was able to move about the ring — although he was still connected to the rope — and knock Orton down. The Viper fought back, though, grabbing the rope that was still hooked to Cena’s arm and yanking it with all his might. The Cenation leader struggled, but he was unable to overpower Orton with one arm. Ultimately, Cena was yanked from the top and driven face first into the edge of a wooden table.

WWE Champion Randy Orton def. World Heavyweight Champion John Cena (Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match)

The ugly impact knocked the World Heavyweight Champion into next week. With his greatest opponent out cold underneath him, Orton began his climb once again. When he reached the top, he savored the moment, taking what felt like minutes to unlatch the two most important championships in sports-entertainment history.

Standing there for all the WWE Universe to see, The Viper became the first WWE World Heavyweight Champion in history and the spiritual successor to Lou Thesz, Bruno Sammartino, Ric Flair, Harley Race and every other indispensable ring legend who ever carried these vaunted titles.

Soon, The Authority joined Orton in the ring and congratulated their handpicked hero as the enormity of the situation dawned on a recovering Cena. With that, an important chapter in WWE history had been written, and a new one had begun.

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WWE Champion Randy Orton def. World Heavyweight Champion John Cena (Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match)

HOUSTON — In what was the most pivotal match in WWE’s 50-year history, WWE Champion Randy Orton defeated World Heavyweight Champion John Cena in a harrowing Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match to unify sports-entertainment’s two most integral titles and become the first-ever WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

See photos from the grueling encounter

It was the beginning of a brave new world for WWE and — as is often the case with change — it did not come without a price. If the road map of cuts and bruises on the bodies of both Cena and Orton don’t tell the story, the image of the Cenation leader lying unconscious against a table with one arm handcuffed to the ring rope and the other twisted underneath his massive body surely will.

That was how this historic match ended, but it began just as ugly. Although the career rivals started the bout with an exchange of straight holds, things quickly deteriorated as Orton introduced a ladder into the ring within minutes of the opening bell. The first major offensive maneuver also belonged to The Viper, who buckled The Champ with a chair blast that reverberated throughout the Toyota Center with a cringe-inducing bang.

Watch every bout between John Cena and Randy Orton

If The Authority had questioned Orton’s passion in order to inspire him, it clearly worked. The Viper seemed to be The Legend Killer of old, keeping Cena grounded with deliberate chair shots and picking at his bones with slow, methodical stomps and kicks. Whenever The Champ managed to fight his way back into the contest, Orton would cut him off at the knees — even stopping a Five Knuckle Shuffle attempt with a brilliantly placed kick to Cena’s head.

WWE Champion Randy Orton def. World Heavyweight Champion John Cena (Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match)

Of course, trying to keep John Cena down is like pushing a boulder uphill. Proving himself to be every bit as willing to get his hands dirty as his opponent, the Cenation leader put The Viper on his back, scaled the ladder and dropped a fist into his rival’s face instead of reaching for the titles. Using some sharp strategy, Cena didn’t chase the championships. Instead, he bided his time until Orton got back on his feet, then drove a ladder into him, sending him off the apron and through a table.

Fifteen feet above the ring, the WWE and World Heavyweight Titles hung from a golden apparatus, but they might as well have been a mile away. As Cena began his ascent to immortality, The Viper impossibly made his way back into the ring, knocked The Champ from his perch and connected with a picture-perfect RKO. The glorious carnage left both men incapacitated in the center of the ring as an ecstatic Houston crowd rumbled around them.

Relive Orton and Cena's five most brutal matches

When the Superstars staggered to their feet, the match truly began to resemble something closer to a bar fight as the combatants exchanged headbutts and full fists. Cena finally dropped Orton by driving the steel ring steps into him, but The Viper took command yet again by blasting the Cenation leader with a microphone, then stomping his head into the steel ring steps.

Taking his time, Orton waited for Cena to begin to struggle to his feet before he attempted to punt The Champ. Somehow, though, Cena avoided The Viper’s boot, spun him around and drove him through the Spanish announce table with a resounding Attitude Adjustment.

WWE Champion Randy Orton def. World Heavyweight Champion John Cena (Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match)

Now moving in slow motion after the physical trauma he had been subjected to, the World Heavyweight Champion made his way up the ladder. Yet, Orton — rising again like the monster in a horror movie — ripped the ladder out from under him. The Cenation leader made the mistake of holding onto the hanging apparatus, which only allowed for The Viper to bash him with a steel chair like he was teeing off on a piñata.

The most pivotal moment in this historic match came moments after Cena drove Orton though a table with a desperate tackle. Clearly, the act took something out of both men — possibly more out of Cena — but it sent Orton to the outside, where he retrieved a pair of handcuffs he had brilliantly hidden under a ringside mat.

Employing an enviable bit of strategy, The Viper shackled The Champ to the bottom rope before taunting his opponent with the hubris of a James Bond villain. After tossing the keys into the audience, Orton slowly moved up the ladder, but he failed to notice what Cena was doing down below.

Ingeniously unscrewing the bottom turnbuckle, The Champ was able to move about the ring — although he was still connected to the rope — and knock Orton down. The Viper fought back, though, grabbing the rope that was still hooked to Cena’s arm and yanking it with all his might. The Cenation leader struggled, but he was unable to overpower Orton with one arm. Ultimately, Cena was yanked from the top and driven face first into the edge of a wooden table.

WWE Champion Randy Orton def. World Heavyweight Champion John Cena (Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match)

The ugly impact knocked the World Heavyweight Champion into next week. With his greatest opponent out cold underneath him, Orton began his climb once again. When he reached the top, he savored the moment, taking what felt like minutes to unlatch the two most important championships in sports-entertainment history.

Standing there for all the WWE Universe to see, The Viper became the first WWE World Heavyweight Champion in history and the spiritual successor to Lou Thesz, Bruno Sammartino, Ric Flair, Harley Race and every other indispensable ring legend who ever carried these vaunted titles.

Soon, The Authority joined Orton in the ring and congratulated their handpicked hero as the enormity of the situation dawned on a recovering Cena. With that, an important chapter in WWE history had been written, and a new one had begun.