John Cena’s six straight SummerSlam losses
If you’re a young Superstar looking to make a name for yourself at the expense of John Cena, here’s a nickel’s worth of free advice: Do it at SummerSlam.
The 16-time World Champion is all but unbeatable on any given night, but The Biggest Event of the Summer has long been his Achilles’ heel. In fact, Cena hasn’t won a match at SummerSlam since — and this is true — 2010, when he captained a squad of Superstars to victory against The Nexus in a 7-on-7 Elimination Tag Team Match. Another more alarming fact? His last singles victory at SummerSlam was a full decade ago, when he successfully defended the WWE Championship against Randy Orton in 2007.
Cena’s impending bout with Mr. Money in the Bank, Baron Corbin, presents him with a chance to snap one of his more infamous streaks. Before Cena hits the Barclays Center on Sunday, Aug. 20, though, let’s examine his six consecutive cruel summers, starting with the fateful winner-take-all match that kicked things off in 2011.
2011: John Cena vs. CM Punk — Undisputed WWE Championship Match
This was a weird one. Due to a confluence of events that would frankly take up too much of the wordcount here, CM Punk and John Cena both held a WWE Championship headed into SummerSlam 2011. In a contest officiated by none other than Triple H (who had just become the COO of WWE), The Second City Saint beat Cena to become the Undisputed Champion, despite The King of Kings missing Cena’s foot on the rope. It was all for naught anyway, as Kevin Nash returned moments later to attack Punk and tee up Alberto Del Rio for a successful Money in the Bank cash-in on The Straight Edge Superstar. Oddly enough, a similar sequence of events would repeat itself just a couple years down the line.
2012: CM Punk vs. John Cena vs. Big Show — WWE Championship Match
One year later and CM Punk was still WWE Champion, with Cena once again positioned as his top challenger. This time, the twist was that Big Show also got a bite at the apple in a Triple Threat Match, and Punk took full advantage of the mad scramble to retain his title. After Cena hit The World’s Largest Athlete with a ring-shaking Attitude Adjustment, Punk threw him out of the ring and quickly covered Show for the pinfall. So close, yet so far.
2013: John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan — WWE Championship Match
One year later and it was Cena who was now champion, with Daniel Bryan as his personal handpicked challenger. After a brief but furious rivalry, The Beard, who was just beginning to crest the wave of the “Yes!” Movement, bested Cena in a grueling match that WWE.com ranked as its No. 2 contest of the year. Proving that time is a flat circle, Triple H was the guest ref here, too, and Cena’s opponent would again fall prey to a Money in the Bank cash-in (Randy Orton’s this time) after being dropped by a member of The Kliq (Triple H this time). For Cena, however, the match itself was as devoid of shenanigans as it gets. Just a knee to the face, three slaps of the mat and a loss to the better man.
2014: John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar — WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
Round and round we go. Cena was champion once more in 2014, and he had the very grave misfortune of running up against Brock Lesnar, who was on top of the world after a big WrestleMania win that you probably heard about once or twice. Cena was pretty confident going into the match — after all, he’d beaten Lesnar in The Conqueror’s gory 2012 return match — but all that changed once the bell rang at the STAPLES Center. The Beast Incarnate absolutely savaged Cena, administering a 16-suplex railroading that wiped memories of their last encounter, and The Champ's title reign, clear off the face of the earth.
2015: Seth Rollins vs. John Cena — Champion vs. Champion Winner Take All Match
Among the more thrilling of Cena’s SummerSlam losses was this bonkers match that put his United States Title on the line against Seth Rollins’ WWE World Heavyweight Championship, with the winner taking home both prizes. For a while it looked as though The Cenation Leader would finally snap his losing streak … and then Jon Freakin’ Stewart hit him with a chair, and Rollins picked the bones to become a double champion. True story.
2016: John Cena vs. AJ Styles
Give AJ Styles credit: Not only did he go after John Cena within six months of debuting in WWE, he basically owned The Cenation Leader for most of their rivalry. Their SummerSlam clash was the arguable apex, in which The Phenomenal One served Cena a bitter loss on the back of a swooping Phenomenal Forearm, though Cena would pay him back at the Royal Rumble the following year to win his record-tying 16th World Title.
On Aug. 20, Cena rolls into SummerSlam on the back of two consecutive pay-per-view victories. He can make it three at Baron Corbin’s expense, but he’ll need to shake his SummerSlam jinx to do it.