When The Rock and John Cena got together for a point-counter point segment on last night's (March 4, 2013) episode of Monday Night Raw in Buffalo, New York, the two laid the ground work for the storyline heading into their match at WrestleMania 29 on April 7 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
While the segment was compelling enough, Cena's main talking point was that following his loss to "The Great One" in the main event of WrestleMania 28 last year in Miami, he "collapsed." He had built up that match as so important that once he failed, he had a hard time recovering and everything around him, both personally and professionally, crumbled.
The personal part may be true, at least in the sense that the timing lines up with his getting a divorce from his high school sweetheart. But what about the claim that he fell apart professionally? Did he really have such a horrible year since his loss to Rock? Was it really as bad as he made it out to be?
Let's take a look back:
Extreme Rules: Cena defeated Brock Lesnar after a gruesome match that saw him get his ass kicked for nearly 16 minutes before going all Superman and hitting an Attitude Adjustment (AA) on some steel steps to get the pin. He was apparently supposed to do a stretcher job immediately after to keep Brock's heat on him despite his getting beat but Cena reportedly called an audible and cut a promo taking all the heat for himself by making it sound like he was going to be leaving for a while. This was around the same time word was getting out that he was getting divorced from his wife. He never went anywhere and missed no time at all.
Over the Limit: Cena wrestled John Laurinaitis in the main event -- despite this being smack dab in the middle of the CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan rivalry that produced one of the best matches of the year at this show -- with the added stipulation that if Cena won, Laurinaitis would be fired. The match featured Cena humiliating Johnny Ace before Big Show came in to hit him with the WMD and get Laurinaitis the win.
No Way Out: Continuing the fued that started at the previous PPV, Cena defeated Big Show in a steel cage match. Again, he was the main event with Punk vs. Kane vs. Daniel Bryan on the undercard. The world heavyweight championship match between Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler, which was an outstanding 15 minute affair, opened the show. Cena won and had Vince McMahon there to fire Laurinaitis right after.
Money in the Bank: Cena was again in the main event, this time as one of five wrestlers in the Raw brand Money in the Bank ladder match. Naturally, he defeated Kane, Chris Jericho, Big Show, and The Miz to earn a guaranteed title shot over the next year whenever he wanted it.
Raw 1000: Although not a PPV, it should be noted that Cena attempted to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase on this historic show and failed to win thanks to Big Show interfering to cause a disqualification. This made Cena the first Money in the Bank winner to fail to win the title when cashing in the contract.
SummerSlam: This was an event that saw that subtle booking that calls Cena's claim into question. He lost the match he was in, a triple threat for the WWE championship against Big Show and CM Punk, but the way he did so is what's important: He wasn't pinned. That honor went to Show. Not only that, Punk only got the pin on Show after Cena hit an AA and Punk threw him out of the ring to steal his pin. So it wasn't really that Cena lost, he just got screwed over by the sneaky heel in the match.
Night of Champions: Cena got another match against Punk for the WWE championship, this time without Big Show getting anywhere near it. And, once again, he didn't lose but he didn't win. Instead, WWE went with a "Dusty Finish," as Cena pinned Punk's shoulders down on the mat but also had his shoulders down while doing it, leading to a draw and Punk retaining the title. It should be noted Cena was the superstar featured on the poster.
Survivor Series: When the Hell in a Cell buyrate came in and showed Ryback to be a decent draw against Punk for the title, WWE quickly changed its booking plans to showcase a triple threat main event that also featured Cena. This time, though, the idea was to protect Ryback, so the trio of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns debuted to powerbomb him through a table and helped allow Punk get the pin on Cena.
TLC: Cena was once again in the main event, though in fairness it wasn't promoted or marketed that way. WWE was still trying to ride Ryback for all he was worth (it didn't work) but Cena still went on last in another losing effort, this time to Dolph Ziggler in a ladder match with Ziggler's Money in the Bank contract on the line. Cena didn't lose clean, however, thanks to AJ Lee interfering and turning heel on him.
Royal Rumble: Cena entered the Royal Rumble match at number 19 and went on to win by last eliminating Ryback.
Elimination Chamber: Cena teamed with Sheamus and Ryback to take on The Shield, the trio who debuted at Survivor Series and aided in both he and Ryback losing to CM Punk. This time around, Ryback ate the pin while Cena was fighting off another member of The Shield.
Monday Night Raw (Feb. 25): Cena was challenged by CM Punk for his WrestleMania 29 title shot and defeated him clean after a 21 minute classic match, quite possibly the greatest in the history of Raw.
This gives us the following numbers:
- 5 wins
- 1 win by DQ
- 5 losses
- 0 clean losses
- 1 draw
- 9 main event matches out of 12
Yes, he was losing just as much as he was winning but he never once took a clean loss in a big match throughout the entire last year leading up to his rematch with Rock. That's an incredible feat, really, and showcases how delicately WWE has booked Cena throughout not just the past year but I would reckon his entire career from 2005 on looks something like this.
One could argue that for any other wrestler, this year obviously wouldn't be considered bad by any stretch of the imagination by but the standard set by Cena for himself, this could feasibly be referred to as a relatively mediocre past year. I'm not sure I agree with that sentiment but it's at least a logical approach to the debate.
Then again, it still doesn't represent the "collapse" he referred to it as.
Now that you've been reminded of his last year, would you agree or disagree that Cena has had it so bad?