Cena: A Look Back

John Cena: A Look Back

Twenty four of the past 27 months. Ten months straight. That's how long John Cena has held the WWE Championship.

It's a staggering reign for The Champ, who has battled adversity better than any WWE titleholder in recent memory.

No matter the size or stature of his opponent, the Chain Gang commander has been able to rise above the fray and defend his championship. But as Cena faces Bobby Lashley at The Great American Bash this Sunday in San Jose, Calif., fans are wondering if The Champ can remain champion in the face of such an imposing physical opponent.

Here's a look back at three of John Cena's most memorable championship moments in the ring.

John Cena vs. John Bradshaw Layfield for the WWE Championship
WrestleMania 21 - April 3, 2005

Even though the cocky millionaire guaranteed victory in the main event of WrestleMania 21 in Los Angeles, John Cena was able to end the near-300-day reign of John Bradshaw Layfield as WWE Champion.

Cena had a sluggish start to the match as JBL dominated early, hitting a crushing spinebuster, a short-arm clothlesline and a superplex from the top rope. JBL even tossed the reeling Cena out of the ring.

Despite JBL's best efforts to keep him down, Cena showed the fans the heart and never-say-die attitude that has become his trademark. He recovered and mounted a flurry of offense late in the match, electrifying the Staples Center fans.

Cena connected with his patented FU and recorded the three-count he waited for his entire life, winning his first-ever WWE Championship and marking the beginning of the Cena era that still lives strong today.

John Cena vs. Triple H for the WWE Championship
WrestleMania 22 - April 2, 2006 

John Cena actually overcame two opponents at WrestleMania 22 in Chicago -- the five-time WWE Champion Triple H and a crowd that turned hostile against The Champ.

Even though Cena's Chain Gang cheered loudly for the Superstar during his match, Triple H's fans also responded loudly in kind, booing once unanimously popular champion. The crowd's jeers just added to the mind games the Cerebral Assassin was inflicting on Cena's psyche.

Incredibly, Cena would not be denied against the former champion.  Late in the match when Cena took to the top rope and attempted a flying cross-body, Triple H moved and quickly pounced for the Pedigree. The match-ending impact seemed imminent, but Cena reversed Triple H's attempt into the STFU. The Game eventually submitted as he could not reach the ropes to break the hold.

Cena left the King of Kings and our fans stunned. The fact that he overcame all of this adversity to make The Game tap out to the STFU on the greatest stage in sports-entertainment is a testament to the intestinal fortitude and drive that The Champ possesses.

John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels for the WWE Championship
WrestleMania 23 - April 1, 2007 

The theme of WrestleMania 23 in Detroit was "All Grown Up." For John Cena, this could be considered the point where he matured most as WWE Champion.

Facing his World Tag Team Championship partner Shawn Michaels, Cena was able to fight off the ring veteran's onslaught and attacks at The Champ's wounded knee. He also had to mentally shut out the crowd, which heavily favored HBK at times.

Michaels used all means necessary to try to take down Cena, using ring posts and the steel ring stairs to rattle him. But The Champ mounted a comeback, as he always seems to do, clamping the STFU onto Michaels. Even the resilient HBK had to submit when he couldn't reach the ropes.

Afterwards, Cena offered a handshake as a show of respect to HBK. But Michaels rejected it and walked away. Not fazed by the rejection, Cena responded with a salute to his departing opponent. The crowd roared as the celebration began … The Champ was still here.

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