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On this date in WWE history (part two): John Cena debuts on Smackdown

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Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/static/" target="new">static on Flickr</a>.
Photo by static on Flickr.

It almost seems hard to believe, but it's been a decade since John Cena came waltzing into our lives on World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) television. On this date in WWE history (June 27, 2002), he debuted on Smackdown answering an open challenge from Kurt Angle as part of the "Ruthless Aggression" push for new talent.

He lost to Angle that night, of course, but was given props in the back by Undertaker and a few others for his valiant effort. He debuted wearing tights and looking ridiculous, a terribly green wrestler who could work a match as long as he had someone to help carry him. Some would argue that still holds true today but when watching his debut, it's clear just how much he's improved since that day.

It wasn't long until Cena transformed into an edgy rapper. That heel version of his character is looked back on fondly by those who witnessed it, likely because it seems clear now that he'll never get back to that point.

Once he grew large enough in popularity, he was put over by JBL at WrestleMania 21 and hasn't looked back since. In fact, Cena's run since first winning the WWE championship may only have been rivaled, in the modern era at least, by Hulk Hogan in the 1980s.

For all his faults, and there will undoubtedly be many to point them out, Cena has managed to keep himself in the main event for almost a decade, with or without the WWE or world heavyweight championship.

After the jump, watch Cena's debut against Angle.