Cena Wins LOL. You know it, you hate it, you really hate it, and you still get frustrated by it. It's like that movie or TV show you hate, but you watch it again hoping the ending changes, and it never does.
For a decade, many of the best in WWE's modern era have come against the modern-day Hulk Hogan (without all the racist overtones, of course) and have met the same fate: looking up at the lights. You can almost set your watch to it. And once they're done feuding with the former "Doctor of Thuganomics", they drop down the card, often never to return to the place they once were. The phenomenon is known simply as CENAWINSLOL. And it's probably not going away any time soon, though the man is for a bit.
But what is the most CENAWINSLOL moment ever?
Over the weekend, we put that question to you, the Cagesiders. Before we get to the top ten, here are...
10 honorable mentions, or ten instances where the result went a lot better for JERN than the other guy.
1. John Cena's won most everything in his WWE career, and in 2012, he added the Money in the Bank briefcase to his huge trophy case. Not CENAWINSLOL enough... until you get to his post-match winning moment. The face that launched a thousand memes, everyone.
2. Just before Wrestlemania XXIV, John Cena and Randy Orton basically do an exercise on what we pretty much all knew: even when they couldn't get along, the two were better than the entire RAW roster (or at least the ones available for the match) put together.
3. Not many get a win over John Cena, much less a clean one, but the Miz did at Wrestlemania XXVII. Cena won the next month (and the title) at Extreme Rules, and finished off his main event run by making The Miz say "I quit", even though Miz and Alex Riley did a beatdown on the champ for most of the match.
4. Mark Henry's fake retirement was one of the top moments of 2013. Many salivated at the possibility of Henry finally getting his gold watch run, and becoming the first 100% African-American WWE Champion ever. But alas, Cena taps out Mark Henry at Payback, ending his last main event run.
5. We all knew this would be a bridge to "Twice in a Lifetime", but Cena denying CM Punk a spot in the main event of Wrestlemania 29 (despite it being one of the greatest matches in RAW history) set off Punk's descent from the main event to out of the company altogether by the following January.
6. Even when John Cena loses, he still wins. In October 2014, both John Cena and Dean Ambrose wanted Seth Rollins, albeit for very different reasons, so they fought for it in a "contract on a pole" match. Ambrose won the match and the right to face Rollins, but Cena came out ahead anyway, as he wound up in a #1 contender's match against Randy Orton for the WWE Championship. In a Hell in a Cell match. That he won anyway.
7. Another example of Cena winning when losing was when he often main-evented over CM Punk during his run as WWE Champion in 2012. The most egregious example of this was at Over the Limit when Cena's program with John Laurainitis got priority over CM Punk's WWE title match with Daniel Bryan. Now that I think about it, Punk was the third wheel in his own feud, behind AJ and Bryan.
8. Wade Barrett got a second helping of the CENAWINSLOL platter at TLC 2011 when after he was defeated by Cena in the show's main event (again, over a CM Punk match), Barrett was literally buried under a platform and a bunch of chairs. Needless to say, we'll be discussing Barrett again later.
9. In what may be one of the more bizarre booking decision of 2015, Seth Rollins won the WWE United States Championship from John Cena at Summerslam, only to lose it three weeks later back to John at Night of Champions. It was as if Creative was saying, hey, you know what you saw at Summerslam? Yeah, forget about that.
10. He beat Triple H, he beat Shawn Michaels, but even Umaga fell to CENAWINSLOL at New Years Revolution 2007 by of all things, a roll-up. That ended Umaga's eight-month run of being defeated by pinfall of submission. Cena also won the rematch at Royal Rumble later in the month. The closest he got to a main event after that was Wrestlemania 23, where he lost to Bobby Lashley in the infamous Battle of the Billionaires.
Frustrated? Well, we're about to go next level with...
The top ten CENAWINSLOL moments ever.
(as always, you voted for these, so if you disagree with this list, that's on you.)
10. Dolph Ziggler.
I'm going to level with you guys. I have no idea how the 2012 Dolph Ziggler-John Cena feud got started. Maybe Dolph was in his "Mr. Steal Yo Girl" phase. Anyways, John John had a crush crush on AJ Lee, a crush that ultimately cost AJ her RAW GM gig because... you know, reasons (mind you Vickie Guerrero, her replacement, had been cannodling with the Zig Zagger... you know what, I'm not gonna try and figure this out).
Anyways, TLC 2012 ended with AJ Lee pushing John Cena off the ladder just as he was about to win his second Money in the Bank contract in six months, leaving us all to contemplate (a) when Dolph Ziggler will cash in his Money in the Bank that he held on to, (b) just exactly how good a couple Ziggles and AJ would be, (c) why does AJ get around so much (she had been in no less than FIVE on-screen relationships in 2012), and (d—and most importantly) how would John respond to such travesty.
Because you see, boys and girls, even when John Cena loses, John Cena wins. Cena humiliates the happy couple on the New Year's Eve RAW a few days later when the couple gets covered in poo. Oh, and they just so happened to be wearing white. Because of course. (GIF via knowyourmeme.com)
9. The 2011 Royal Rumble.
You may remember this as the one with 40 guys and a roster still not deep enough to handle it.
At one point in the Rumble the New Nexus, you know the group that went over like New Coke, ran off twelve eliminations in a row. Twelve in a row. That's like Diesel in 1994, but with three or four extra guys. The streak gets broken by Great Khali, who eliminates Husky Harris. But picks right back up again when Mason Ryan eliminates Khali and Booker T.
Then John Cena comes in. And surprise, surprise, he eliminates all four remaining members of New Nexus (in a row, no less), and just to add cherry and chocolate on the sundae, eliminates original Nexus member Heath Slater.
Cena would get just one more elimination before being eliminated by The Miz... whom he would get to face in the main event of Wrestlemania a little over two months later. As for the New Nexus, they all would go on to get punted dead in the skull during that two month period by Randy Orton. Punk avoided getting skull-kicked, but he still ended his Wrestlemania XXVII on his back. (GIF via knowyourmeme.com)
8. Brock Lesnar at Extreme Rules 2012.
In terms of burning money, one of the bigger recent examples is the "redemption" of John Cena. Redemption stories are about as old as time, and you see it in all forms of entertainment all the time. A beloved figure hits rock bottom, whether it be by some unforeseen circumstance or by his or her own doing. They go away for a while, then they rebuild their image and become even more beloved than they once were. That's a story you and I can relate to.
WWE in 2012 had the perfect beginning to this story when The Rock did what most thought he couldn't do: defeat John Cena. That loss was a humbling moment in Cena's career. Then the next night, a humbled Cena gets murderdeathkilled by a returning Brock Lesnar. And maybe in a perfect world, Brock Lesnar wins his first match back with the company in nearly a decade. And if he doesn't win, he at least kills Cena dead trying.
That's exactly what did not happen. Though Brock looked dominant and it was a match of the year candidate, steel chain fist to the face, one Attitude Adjustment to the steel steps.
Ok, that's not where CENAWINSLOL begins, though one can argue it did. He didn't go out on a stretcher as many had hoped. Hell, he didn't even go away as many had hoped. Hell, he said it himself that he may needed to go away for a while (he was dealing with a pending divorce). But not only does he not go away for a while or on a stretcher, but HE'S BACK ON RAW THE NEXT NIGHT. Ok, his arm's in a sling, but it basically made Brock the killer look like just another guy. (GIF via whatistheexcel.com)
7. Rusev at Wrestlemania 31.
The John Cena mountain in a nutshell: you get built up, you beat a few people along the way, maybe even a few people of substance. Maybe win a championship along the way. Then, when you're at your hottest, you get fed to John from West Newbury, Massachusetts, which might as well be Venice Beach East. Ok, that last part may be an exaggeration, but everything else is 100% fact.
Alexander Rusev will attest to that. He headed into Wrestlemania 31 (IN A FUCKING TANK, MIND YOU) with a submission win over John Cena (though Cena didn't technically submit) and having never been defeated via pinfall or submission. Oh, and he was also the United States Heavyweight Wrestling Champion of World Wrestling Entertainment.
Then Cena happened. Invoking a throwback to the heyday of Hulkamania, Cena hustled, loyaltied, and respected his way (despite having a shoe thrown in his direction for some reason) to the WWE United States Heavyweight Championship with a single Attitude Adjustment. Oh, and he also hit a springboard stunner that made most anyone watching throw up in our mouth a little bit.
But the point is this:
And of course, to the surprise of no one, he won the rematch a month later, then an "I Quit" match the month after that (a match where Lana did the quitting for Rusev). And that ended the ballad of one Alexander Rusev as a dominant athlete and viable heel. (photo via quickmeme.com)
6. Kevin Owens at Battleground 2015.
The latest victim of the Cena mountain is the artist formerly known as Kevin Steen or Kevin Steen cosplayer extraordinare Kevin Owens. Fresh from his brief, yet dominant run as NXT Champion, Kevin Owens at Money in the Bank did the nigh impossible: he scored a clean-as-a-whistle pinfall victory over John Cena. Of course, people freaked, and by people, I mean the Cena fanbase that panicked and tuned out and stopped buying his merch. And Vince McMahon. Probably. Almost certainly. Not surprisingly, Cena won the rematch at Elimination Chamber.
That left the rubber match for Kevin Owens' standing for the present and the future at Battleground. It was a hell of a match. Perhaps not as good as their previous two encounters, but still some fine wrestling. Didn't matter.
As the General said in his recap of the show:
There is no defense for it, really. Yes, Cena is a dynasty but at what point do we stop feeding rising heels to him to stunt their momentum? At what point does someone other than Brock Lesnar -- coming off beating Undertaker's streak at WrestleMania -- actually go over him in a feud?
At this point, the answer is either "when he retires" or "never". Remember: Cena lost one match in this feud, and people panicked. That alone should tell you how much of WWE's fortunes are tied into this man. And if you believe "he'll be fine" like Geno said, lemme ask you something: where's Bray Wyatt? Where's Rusev? Hell, Kevin may have the worst end of the deal of the three hot heels that Cena's snuffed out in the last two years: he's the Intercontinental Champion. That belt's cursed. It's an albatross on all who've held it in recent memory. (pic via ign.com)
5. Rey Mysterio in 2011.
So, the Summer of Punk, you guys. You all remember it by now. CM Punk threatens to leave WWE as the WWE Champion when his contract expires following Money in the Bank in his hometown of Chicago. Despite Vince McMahon calling an eleventh-hour audible, CM Punk left WWE with the WWE Championship.
So with no WWE Champion to call their own and CM Punk's future up in the air (in storyline at least; in reality, Punk had already re-upped with the company), WWE commissioned a tournament to crown a new--or at least an interim--WWE Champion. I mean, you can't go without a world champion for more than a few days and expect people to be okay with it. The eight-man tournament (how's this for a lineup: Rey Mysterio, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, R-Truth, Kofi Kingston, Alberto Del Rio, Alex Riley, and The Miz) was conducted over two episodes (more like an episode and a quarter, but it bled into the next week for some strange reason), with Rey winning the WWE Championship for the first time ever.
But about halfway through the show, it was announced that Rey would defend the WWE Championship on this very show in the main event against John Cena because... reasons. You all know what happens next.
Cena gets the Attitude Adjustment and Rey Mysterio's a transitional champion, not even getting to finish out one episode of RAW Supershow (God I've always hated that name. Way to make Smackdown less meaningless than it already is) as the top man in the company. It was never explained how John got the right to challenge for the WWE title. He technically didn't have a rematch since the guy that beat him was gone. He got a rematch simply for being John Cena. It basically rendered the WWE Championship tournament and the last two episodes of RAW... a complete and utter waste of time. (GIF via reddit.com)
4. Bray Wyatt.
Windham Rotunda, the artist formerly known as Husky Harris, debuted as David Koresh-with-a-monster-complex Bray Wyatt in April 2012 during the dying days of FCW. When it was rebooted as NXT, Wyatt got injured. It was during said injury that the Wyatt Family was born, with dirty shirt wearer Luke Harper and sheep-mask enthusiast Erick Rowan. They would creep out Full Sail University with their cryptic promos before eventually creeping out WWE audiences with their cryptic promos.
Eventually, their creepy and cryptic promos turned toward one John Cena. Tired of Cena's facade as a good man who believed in hustle, loyalty, and respect, Bray sought out to get John-boy to embrace the hate and turn into the monster he was born to be. And he was gonna do it at Wrestlemania XXX, where the whole world would watch.
Despite Bray's best efforts to make a monster of John John, Cena Attitude Adjusted Bray and broke his Wrestlemania losing streak at three. Sure Bray won the next month in one of the worst steel cage matches in the history of ever with the help of a kid hitting puberty way too early (don't debate me on this, you know I'm right), but to the surprise of no one, Bray lost the rubber match, a last man standing bout. Bray absolutely had the goods to be the WWE's next great heel. But they chose the path of the Immortal: build him up to the Big Boss, only to have him being knocked all the way down the mountain by said Big Boss. (pic via imgur.com)
3. Zack Ryder.
Hey! Remember when Zack Ryder was a thing? He was, honest.
Back in 2011, Zack Ryder was a rising star. In the minds of some, but not many. But some. Then the Z! True Long Island Story happened. It got over among the Internet folks. Then it got over among the non-Internet folks, and people started chanting for Zack Ryder, bringing signs to riot if they didn't get them some Ryder. Mind you, this rioting basically was confined to the Internet. But eventually, the powers that be gave Long Island Iced Z a sizable push, and he ended 2011 as the WWE United States Champion.
In the new year, he started to develop feelings for one Eve Marie Torres and became BFFs with John Cena. Somewhere the streams crossed and Zack Ryder found himself in Kane's crosshairs, and he took beating after beating after beating because he was BFFs with John. Zack lost the United States title after just one month and never got a rematch.
Wait, so where does CENAWINSLOL come in, Eddie Mac?
February 13, 2012. John Cena saves Zack's love interest from Kane and God knows whatever Kane was gonna do to her. Eve as a reward to John more or less offered herself to him, proceeding to give a full tongue exam on John's mouth... while a cripple Zack Ryder watched. Awkward. And that wasn't even the worst part, though don't get me wrong, that sucks pretty bad. The show ended with Ryder being wheeled off the stage by Kane.
But wait, there's more.
It turned out Eve didn't share Zack's feelings for her, just using her for... well, yeah that wasn't fully explained, so I'll go with just because she can. Oh. Fame and publicity. So basically, she was a Kardashian who knew a few MMA holds. Okay. So Cena found out and basically demasculated Eve... or whatever the female equivalent of demasculating is. I know someone knows what I'm trying to say here. CENAWINSLOL again.
Nonetheless, Zack continued to buy into Eve's bullshit, only to find out Eve's true intentions when she put one through Zack's uprights at Wrestlemania XXVIII, costing Zack the match and Teddy Long his job. After losing his feud-ending match just over a month later, he was relegated to jobber duty, where he remains to this day.
So, if you're scoring at home, because he associated himself with John Cena, he lost his health, his title, his crush, and his push. All in a span of six months. And that sucks. Not just for Ryder, but as one Curt Hawkins said in a 2014 interview, the locker room as a whole.
"... it really kind of broke the spirit of the locker room. For years, we were told... that there's a brass ring... and it's there for the taking if you work hard enough and get yourself over. And [Ryder]... defied the odds and actually does it, and all the boys are rooting for him... He got over without the [WWE] office, without TV time... And then they did just crush it and take it all away from him... It's like, you're not going to get pushed unless they pick you to get pushed, and that's kind of it".
Yeah. Pretty much. He's being rebuilt in NXT, but Zack's mindset I can imagine is broken beyond repair. I mean, he's been kicked in the dirt for years. Hell, Eve came out better than Zack did.
2. Damien Sandow.
Aaron Haddad began his second tour with the WWE (his first came in 2006 as Idol Stevens, but you don't remember that. Nobody remembers that. Stop trying to pretend you remember that. It never happened.) in April 2012 as uppity pedant Damien Sandow, the "intellectual savior of the masses". Though he was quite over with crowds, he was never in a serious threat to win any championships... well, other than that brief period he teamed with Cody Rhodes, but that was during the era of Hell No, the greatest tag team era of this decade in WWE (don't you dare disagree with me on this).
But then Money in the Bank happened in 2013. Sandow won the IWC/all-heel all-star Money in the Bank ladder match for the right to challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship at any time for up to a year. Unfortunately for Damien, he also had to carry the albatross of the losing streak associated with recent holders of the briefcase. He would win just one of thirteen matches on television and have his Money in the Bank case stolen and dumped in a river.
Nonetheless, Sandow still had his shot, and on October 28, 2013, he took it. He went after John Cena's injured arm (Cena had won the title on his first night back from injury at Hell in a Cell) and announced he was cashing in his Money in the Bank. I mean, Cena has one working arm. Sandow should be able to win the world title easily...
Are you fricking serious? Damien Sandow, despite having the advantage of working with two fully functional arms and his time and place of when he cashed in his Money in the Bank match, lost. He didn't win by disqualification. He LOST.
"John Cena is Superman." These were words actually spoken by one Jerry Lawler. But then, you already knew that. Some people, including one Michael Francis Foley of Long Island, New York, thought that Sandow was elevated in defeat. Don't get me wrong; it was a great match. But the most intellectual man in WWE was made to look like a complete tool, and it took until well into the following year for Sandow to get anywhere close to being respectable again. Not surprisingly, Sandow hasn't been anywhere near the world title since. On an individual level, he may have suffered the worst.
1. The Nexus at Summerslam 2010.
But that's nothing compared to seven careers practically dying at once. A little refresher for you: in June 2010, less than a week after the first season of NXT (the reality show, not the best wrestling show in the world we know it to be now), the show's winner Wade Barrett along with the rest of the season's cast ganged up on anyone that was near or in the immediate area of the ring. And they tore it down. It looked like a hurricane went through it. Nobody was safe, not even Justin Roberts, who was stripped and choked out with his own tie. That got a little too real for the WWE, and Daniel Bryan was immediately fired. We'll get back to him in a moment.
As for the rest of the Season 1 cast, they would wreck shop on RAW for the next couple of months, largely unchallenged. The group that would be known as the Nexus always spoke of doing things for the "big picture", though it was never expressed exactly what that "big picture" was. Make no mistake, no one was safe: friend, foe, legend, even management were in the crosshairs of the black and gold.
Fast forward to Summerslam where John Cena convinced six men to fight this evil scourge with him. One of those six men: the fired Daniel Bryan. Eventually, the 14-man elimination tag match got down to three. John Cena versus the Nexus' Wade Barrett and Justin Gabriel. There were no stakes in the match (i.e. titles, title shots, careers, authority), though a win for the Nexus would be a launchpad for the group. So late in the match, Cena is sent out to the floor by a Barrett boot. Barrett and Gabriel expose the concrete and Wade drops a lifeless Cena onto it head first with a DDT.
This by all accounts should not only end a match, but probably end a man. I mean, you drop someone head first onto something that doesn't budge like a concrete floor, and you could probably kill him. Barrett tags in Justin Gabriel to ice it with his 450 splash, but Cena, exactly 67 seconds (I timed it) after being dropped on his head rolls out of the way. Four seconds later, Gabriel is rolled on his back and is pinned. Fifteen seconds later, Barrett is tripped up and is put in the STF. It only takes twelve seconds for Wade to submit. 36 seconds after that, he's on his feet. Glassy-eyed, mind you. 69 more seconds, and Cena's celebrating as if a thing didn't happen to him. If you're scoring at home, that's three minutes and 23 seconds from being dropped to your near death to standing tall as if you've won the Super Bowl after going untouched for virtually the entire game.
That's bullshit. And guess what? It was bullshit that could have been avoided:
"The finish boiled down to you [Edge] and me were in there, but it was Cena against a couple of them. John wanted to do things a certain way and we told him 'you're wrong'. Remember that? And he did it anyways, and it sucked. And then afterwards he came over to us and said ‘I should have listened to you, but I wasn't seeing it that way... He wanted to get DDT'd on the floor by Barrett, then kick out and beat them both. And you and I were like, 'that's the dumbest thing. That's just throwing it away for no reason'... We were fighting for Barrett to go over. And, in all fairness, where's Wade Barrett now? They should have listened to us."
That was Chris Jericho in a late 2013 interview with Edge. They were two of the other people in the match. They tried to undo the damage the next night by having nearly every member of Nexus win singles bouts on RAW, but as the old saying goes, you can't unring that bell. The loss killed the group's credibility. Though most have had a modicum of success since that fateful night, none of them are main-eventers, though a couple of them have flirted with the main event. As for Daniel Bryan, getting fired may have been the best thing to happen to him. From late 2010, Bryan would go on to win every men's championship available in WWE, including the World Heavyweight Championship in late 2013 and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the main event of Wrestlemania XXX.
That's why you picked this the most CENAWINSLOL moment ever.
Agree with the list? Did we miss anything? Give out about it in the comments.
Then when you're done, check out these past Cageside Countdowns.