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PHILADELPHIA — The American flag flew high at WWE Battleground — fittingly enough in The Birthplace of America — after John Cena defeated his longtime rival Rusev in a Flag Match, earning a win for both himself and the country he calls home.
The old-school rules of the match were simple: Grab your own flag, carry it to the top of the entrance ramp and plant it on your home country’s pedestal. With Cena representing America and Rusev his native Bulgaria, the stakes were especially high, and both patriots found themselves locked in a dead heat defending the honor of their nations.
Rusev initially seemed to be the fresher of the two, or at least the hungrier. Looking to prove that he was as deserving of the spotlight — and, just maybe, that his WrestleMania loss to Cena was a fluke — The Bulgarian Brute was the first to grab a flag, seizing his colors after reversing a top-rope legdrop from Cena into a powerbomb. Cena responded by nearly taking Rusev out of the match, trapping him in the STF until the two-time United States Champion passed out in the hold.
Cena grabbed hold of the American flag and a grueling stop-and-start ensued, with each Superstar inching their colors halfway up the ramp. Eventually, the fight spilled to the top of the entryway, where Rusev set up a pair of tables next to the American podium for the ultimate statement maneuver — an Attitude Adjustment of his own through the tables.
He had to settle for an Accolade that put Cena to sleep, but before The Super Athlete could plant his flag, Cena came to and blocked it with his bare hands. Rusev then attempted another Accolade, but Cena administered an ultimate statement of his own, hoisting Rusev on his shoulders, marching up the American podium and Attitude Adjusting Rusev through the tables.
With The Super Athlete felled, Cena finally put the match away, planting his flag atop the pedestal and saluting it as he made his exit.