Charles Robinson reflects on his role in John Cena’s historic 16th World Championship win at WWE Royal Rumble

Charles Robinson reflects on his role in John Cena’s historic 16th World Championship win at WWE Royal Rumble

Following John Cena’s defeat of AJ Styles at Royal Rumble 2017 for his 16th World Championship win, which tied the mark set by the iconic Ric Flair, a very interesting moment began to materialize.

WWE referee Charles Robinson, a longtime fan and friend of The Nature Boy, was there to count to three and award the title to The Cenation Leader. However, before the customary passing of the title from the official to the victor could occur, Cena and the often-dubbed “Little Naitch” began to have what surely seemed like a special conversation. The two then shook hands and embraced.

What were they discussing? called up Robinson to find out.  

WWE.COM: After John Cena defeated AJ Styles, it was impossible to not notice that you and he shared a moment where you exchanged some words and embraced. What was said?

CHARLES ROBINSON: We were just talking about how cool it was that I’ve reffed for Ric Flair so many times and now I’m refereeing his 16th title and tying [it] up with Ric. He thought that was pretty freaking cool.

WWE.COM: You seemed a bit emotional after the fact, as well. Obviously you are a huge fan and friend of Ric Flair — what did it mean for you to be in there?

ROBINSON: It was probably one of the top honors I’ve ever had. John Cena is up there with the greatest of all time, in my opinion. I don’t care what any of the fans say, or how they boo, or whatever — to me, now, he’s the man. I texted John after the show and said, “You are the man.” And, you know, he’s great. He’s great with the fans. He’s great with everybody that he works with. He’s a true professional. Everything that he does is for the business. It was just an honor to be in the ring with him and hand him the title.

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WWE.COM: You had the best seat in the house. What did you think of the match that many are already calling an early Match of the Year candidate?

ROBINSON: AJ and John, they bring it 100 percent every time that they’re in the ring, and I don’t think they disappointed anybody in the back and I know they didn’t disappoint any of the fans. 

WWE.COM: After you found out you were assigned to officiate the match, did it occur to you that the moment could be as big as it was, or was the emotion a very spontaneous thing?

ROBINSON: It was actually very spontaneous. I hadn’t really thought about it up until then. I was told earlier that I was doing the match, but things change in this business [laughs]. So, I didn’t wanna get my hopes up, so everything was very, very spontaneous.

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WWE.COM: Were there any surprises during the match that the WWE Universe would be curious to hear about?

ROBINSON: I got hurt! I tore my plantar fasciitis like seven minutes into the match. So I’m limping around, trying to do the match — which was incredible — but what I was gonna do? Throw up the big “X” for myself?!

WWE.COM: Being as connected and invested into the business as you are, how would you put this history making moment into perspective?

ROBINSON: It’s just very exciting. This is historic and it’s just nice to be part of making history in this business that I’ve watched since I was 6 years old. I’ve been in [sports-entertainment] for 20 years and this is definitely one of the top moments, besides retiring Ric Flair, which was pretty awesome. And I retired Shawn Michaels — that was pretty cool. This is definitely in my top three, if not the top two [matches] that I’ve officiated.

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