10 Biggest Losses Of John Cena's WWE Career

Big Match John may win the majority of his matches, but when he loses, he loses hard.

John Cena's direction at the moment is a very interesting one. Over the years he's walked into WrestleMania match after WrestleMania match, a natural consequence of being one of the biggest WWE Superstars of all time.

But this year - whether you find it believable or not - WWE are determined to have us believe that Cena might not make 'Mania this year. He failed to win the Royal Rumble, failed to win the men's Elimination Chamber match, and (at the time of writing) is probably going to come up short in the six-way title bout at Fastlane.

Again, however much a fan you are of the storyline, it's hard to argue that Cena's current storyline is an interesting one. He's been a figure so heavily associated with winning over the years, seeing him admit to coming up short is very unusual indeed.

So we feel it appropriate to now take a look back at the biggest losses of John Cena's career. Yes, he may have far more wins than defeats over the course of his wildly successful stint in WWE, but when Big Match John actually loses one of those big matches, he loses hard.

From the zeitgeist-shifting loss to CM Punk at Money in the Bank 2011 to heartbreaking defeats on the grandest stage of them all, let's relive those matches where Cena forgot he was Superman, and actually became something far more compelling instead.

10. AJ Styles - SummerSlam 2016


We begin with the most recent loss of the list, and one which didn't have too much impact on the surface. Sure, Cena may have lost that epic match to AJ Styles at SummerSlam, but he avenged himself a few months later at the Royal Rumble (and took Styles' WWE Championship from him in the process).

However, if we dig a little deeper, it becomes clear that the result of their SummerSlam classic actually held far more importance than we might think. Despite no title being on the line, this was a passing of the torch, pure and simple.

Cena threw absolutely everything at AJ, and still lost to the man who had represented everything anti-WWE for the majority of his career. In putting over a smaller, flippier, more indie opponent, it was almost as if John realised that his era was coming to an end.

From NXT to the main roster, we now see so many wrestlers inspired by Styles and his kind - while Cena-esque WWE creations are perhaps struggling for prominence.

9. Shawn Michaels - Raw, 23 April 2007


In terms of scale, Cena's loss against Shawn Michaels is surely outranked by many other defeats of his career. It came on a seemingly innocuous episode of Monday Night Raw, and didn't result in a title change or significant shift in card position for either man.

However, the match has since gone down in history as one of the longest (and best) in Raw history, clocking in at almost an hour - and the fact remains that Cena lost.

This bout is also crucial for John's career as a whole. A few weeks prior, he had defeated Shawn Michaels in the main event of WrestleMania 23 - one year after doing the same to Triple H. His loss here helped sooth the vitriol aimed at 'SuperCena' and reminded us all that anything can happen in WWE.

Simply put, if there's one loss on this list that prevented Cena from transcending the mortal realm and becoming an indestructible force of nature, it's this one.

8. Daniel Bryan - SummerSlam 2013


In hindsight, this defeat is quite reminiscent of Cena's SummerSlam 2016 loss to Styles. Three years prior, he again lost to a smaller indie darling on a SummerSlam pay per view - but the circumstances of this one were a little different.

It's probably fair to say that Cena had never eaten a defeat quite like this before - certainly not since becoming a main eventer early in his WWE career. He wasn't put down by a finisher, or a series of finishers, or even a 'super' variant of a signature move.

Daniel Bryan simply charged across the ring and kneed his opponent square in the face. It was arguably closer to the finish of a Ring of Honor match than a Sports Entertainment-style main event. Bryan's immortal knee led to his capture of the WWE Championship, only for Triple H and Randy Orton to screw him out of it moments later.

This would rank higher on the list, were it not for the fact that Randy's cash-in shoved Cena out of the spotlight somewhat. Still, it can be remembered as a monumental loss in his career.

7. CM Punk - Money In The Bank 2011


CM Punk didn't hate John; he liked him a hell of a lot more than most of the guys in the back.

This wasn't a blood feud between two intense rivals; it was something much grander than that. The Summer of Punk angle saw the entire landscape of pro wrestling shift. Finally, internet-based 'smark' fans had a hero to cheer for.

Punk wasn't so much wrestling Cena; he was wrestling WWE's booking of Cena over the past decade - and fighting to make a difference in the process. Yes, he ultimately ripped the WWE Championship from John, and transformed himself into a megastar in the process - but I'm not sure if we remember Cena's role in this feud as much as we should.

So despite being perhaps his most famous loss of all time, we're not placing this defeat too high on our list. Sometimes it's just more about the other guy.

6. Randy Orton - TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs 2013


This is probably the least-beloved match on the list, chiefly because it was yet another instalment of the never-ending Cena vs. Orton saga. The two leading lights of the 'Ruthless Aggression' era clashed again at TLC 2013, this time to unify the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships.

In purely kayfabe terms, this is maybe the biggest loss of Cena's career. If we temporarily ignore the internet's apathetic view of the bout, it's one with huge stakes.

Despite consistently being portrayed as stronger and more capable than Orton in a fair fight, Cena lost after being handcuffed to the bottom rope. It was a unique finish to an otherwise unpopular match, and despite not being one of the more well-received losses of his career, it remains a shocking one.

5. Rob Van Dam - ECW One Night Stand 2006


At Money in the Bank 2011, Cena walked into one of the most hostile environments he'd ever experienced. But while that match was more about the hometown boy vs. the outsider, and the internet darling vs. the WWE Superstar, his bout with Rob Van Dam at One Night Stand 2006 was about pure hatred.

ECW fans have never been a shy bunch, and their anti-authoritarian vitriol was never more dangerously concentrated than in this match. RVD was the first Money in the Bank holder to announce his cash-in ahead of time, and couldn't have picked a more favourable date.

This bout featured the now-infamous 'If Cena Wins, We Riot' sign, and although he didn't at all lose in clean fashion (after being jumped by Edge), nobody really cared. When Paul Heyman charged the ring to count the pinfall, he cemented one of the most raucously-received defeats of Cena's entire career. It was also probably his best heel performance ever, despite remaining a total babyface throughout - or maybe because of that.

4. Edge - New Year's Revolution 2006


Like the last match we discussed, this loss simply felt unfair - not that the majority of anti-Cena fans minded. Elimination Chamber was still a fairly new concept at the beginning of 2006, and the idea of a Money in the Bank cash-in was totally new.

Therefore, when the two were combined, it created one of the most electrifying moments of Edge's career - and one of the most crushing disappointments for John Cena.

Having battled his way through a bloody Chamber match, Cena lay exhausted in the middle of the ring, only for Vince McMahon to take to the stage and announce that the Rated R Superstar was cashing in his MITB contract.

Cena fought valiantly (for a very short while, admittedly), before succumbing to the new champion. It was a swerve that represented Sports Entertainment drama and surprise at its very finest.

3. The Miz - WrestleMania XXVII


Again, another match that isn't too fondly remembered - but certainly one of the biggest defeats of John Cena's career, given the sheer scale of the stage on which it occurred.

Before the main event of WrestleMania XXVII, Cena had a 6-1 record at 'Mania. His previous two trips to the biggest main event of the year had seen him defeat both Triple H and Shawn Michaels clean in consecutive years.

2011 saw Cena face The Miz, a match billed as a cowardly paper champion against a strong, heroic challenger. Unfortunately, Miz was knocked loopy midway through, meaning that the bout is hardly remembered as a 'Mania classic.

Instead, the biggest talking point came at the end, where The Rock (who was 'hosting' WrestleMania that year) flagrantly interfered and cost Cena the match. Despite being cheap, it may well have been the biggest loss of his career - at least until the following year...

2. The Rock - WrestleMania XVIII


It doesn't really get much bigger than The Rock vs. John Cena at WrestleMania XXVIII, and were it not for a particularly devastating loss, this would surely have been number one on the list.

Not only was Rocky's defeat of Cena a surprise - given that it featured an older part-timer coming back to defeat the biggest star in WWE - it also felt monumental. The shot of Cena sitting despondently on the entrance ramp should have lingered long in the memory as a defining moment of his career.

This defeat was unquestionably huge, but we probably don't remember it being as crushing as it could have been. That's because despite billing it as a 'once in a lifetime'bout, WWE repeated the trick at the following year's WrestleMania - and, naturally, gave Cena his win back.

1. Brock Lesnar - SummerSlam 2014


In just about every match on this list (bar Edge's cash-in at New Year's Revolution 2006), Cena's defeats have been very hard-fought affairs indeed. In order to beat Big Match John, an opponent either needs to dig impossibly deep (AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan) or benefit from outside interference (RVD, The Miz).

That's not what happened when Cena lost the world title to Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam 2014. Never before had we seen WWE's Superman dominated in such ungodly fashion. Lesnar hoisted him around the ring with such relentless ease, it even gave birth to a whole new catchphrase: Suplex City.

Although it lasted over 15 minutes, the bout felt much shorter than that, so abrupt and shocking was Brock's dominance. If there's one match that really stands out among Cena's biggest losses, it's this one. John didn't push somebody to the limit or fall to despicable heel tactics. He was simply beaten by a monster of a man and made to look like any other wrestler in the process. Truly outrageous.

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Jack King

Written by Jack King

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