Posted by James Tee
Welcome back to the third part of the John Cena story. Before I take a look at the start of Cena’s main event career with WWE, it feels fitting to talk about the last few days with regards to the latest chapter in John Cena’s career.
It has been a very hit and miss few days for John, and many of us will agree that last Monday’s pre-Rumble ramble was one of the worst show closing promos ever. It was pointless, but it didn’t stop Cena winning the Rumble itself, something that was more than predictable when we got to the final three. Now it appears we will ‘Twice in a Lifetime’ at Wrestlemania.
Anyway, lets start Part 3 of the John Cena Story.
PART 3 – THE START OF THE MAIN EVENT PUSH
Cena had been unsuccessful against Brock Lesnar in his first serious challenge for the WWE Championship at Backlash. The rest of 2003 saw Cena used as a serious heel, using a east coast white rapper gimmick, which saw him deliver, even to this day, some of his strongest mic work.
However, Cena was far from successful in terms of victories against stars; victories that would have seen Cena reach the main event scene. Defeats against The Undertaker, who kicked out of the F-U, and Kurt Angle saw Cena reach Survivor Series needing a serious boost if he was going to be of any importance heading into 2004.
Cena had attacked A-Train the week before, and when Cena turned down Paul Heyman’s Survivor Series offer, he was attacked by Team Lesnar.
Now a part of the face Team Angle, Cena was given instant reward, ending up as one of two survivors, along with Chris Benoit.
After Survivor Series, Cena entered a feud with Paul Heyman, and in particular, The Big Show. After defeating Big Show in the first Smackdown of the year, Cena qualified for a number one contender’s Battle Royal the week after by defeating A-Train. Cena and Benoit were both adjudged to have won the match, so would face off the following week to determine the number one contender for Brock’s WWE title.
Benoit would be successful that night; The Big Show costing Cena the match. The seeds were starting to be sown for a major 2004 feud.
After defeating Show in a non-title match at Tribute to the Troops 2003, the stage was set for the 2004 Royal Rumble, a PPV where Cena was the featured superstar on the poster. The 2004 Rumble had extra significance, as the winner would headline the twentieth anniversary of Wrestlemania at Madison Square Garden.
Cena entered the match at number 28, but wasn’t as successful as he planned.
He eliminated nobody, and was eliminated himself by The Big Show after a shade over seven and a half minutes.
After Cena and Big Show lost to Kurt Angle at No Way Out in a triple threat number one contenders match for the WWE title at Wrestlemania 20, ultimately against Eddie Guerrero.
So what now for Cena? It seemed fitting that after feuding for nearly six months, he would face The Big Show for the United States title. It would be Cena’s first of many Wrestlemania moments.
For the first time in his WWE career, John Cena was a champion. Four days later on Smackdown, Cena made his first successful defence against The Man Beast, Rhyno.
Cena’s first feud as champion was with Rene Dupree, who at the time was chasing Torrie Wilson. After harassing Miss Wilson on the first edition of Cafe de Rene, Cena came out and made the save. The following week, Dupree attempted to have a match against Wilson, before again Cena made the save.
After Dupree powerbombed Cena through the announce table, a United States title match was set up for Judgment Day in the May of 2004. After defeating Dupree at Judgment Day, the following Smackdown saw Dupree win via countout after a low blow to the champion. A new feud was needed to keep the champion relevant. On the May 27th edition of Smackdown, Cena defeated Dupree in a lumberjack match, despite the best efforts of Booker T to hurt Cena.
Booker T and Cena confronted each other the following week on Smackdown, and whilst brawling, inadvertently tripped over the wheelchair bound GM Kurt Angle. For weeks after, Angle attempted to find ways to ensure Cena would lose the United States champion, including a fatal four way match at The Great American Bash in late June. That night Cena defeated RVD, Booker T and Rene Dupree to retain his title.
His first reign would not last much longer however.
Two weeks after TGAB, Cena beat Booker T via DQ, only after Cena had knocked Angle out of his chair. Immediately after the match, Angle stripped Cena of the United States Championship.
After Booker T had won the vacant title three weeks later, in a match involving Cena, Cena entered a best of five series against the new champion; only after Cena had defeated RVD in a number one contender’s match.
The best of five series would last almost two months, and started at the biggest PPV of the summer, Summerslam.
Cena won match one, on a night more famous for Randy Orton winning his World Championship, becoming the youngest world champ in WWE history.
After trading victories throughout September, the series was tied at two victories apiece heading into No Mercy in October. After going back and forth for ten minutes, Cena gained the pin after an F-U, and in turn, regained the United States title.
Cena’s reign would last only four days though. The debut of Carlito saw the Puerto Rican capture the United States championship, and eventually, saw the writing off of TV for Cena. It was said that Carlito’s associate Jesus had stabbed Cena in a nightclub brawl in Boston.
However, Cena was written off TV so that he could film his first feature film, ‘The Marine’. The role was originally written for Stone Cold Steve Austin, but he had recently left the company. Filming was completed in Australia at the end of November, and as a cinematic success, the film did well, making a $2 million profit at the Box Office.
When Cena returned, he immediately dethroned Carlito, and won his third United States title in the space of nine months. After defending his title against Jesus at Armageddon, the start of the biggest push to date of Cena’s career began.
After defeating old rival Rene Dupree, Cena entered the 2005 Royal Rumble exactly 8 years ago today (30th January), as the number 25 entrant. This time, Cena lasted 15 minutes, and eliminated Viscera and Kane before he reached the final two with Batista. Both men were eliminated simultaneously, causing Mr McMahon to restart the match with the two men back in the ring. After being hit with a Spinebuster, Cena was eliminated by Batista, and for the meantime, his Wrestlemania dream was over.
After Batista chose to face Raw’s World Heavyweight Champion Triple H, a number one contender’s tournament was established to find a challenger for JBL’s WWE title for Wrestlemania 21. Cena defeated Orlando Jordan and Booker T to reach the tournament final at No Way Out against Kurt Angle.
The match was physical, as could be expected from any Kurt Angle match. Regardless though, John Cena gained the victory and was going to Wrestlemania.
Cena started to feud with JBL, however, he was still the United States champion. A first champion vs champion match since Wrestlemania 6 was avoided when Cena dropped the title one month before Wrestlemania to a member of JBL’s cabinet; Orlando Jordan.
After weeks of both sides trying to gain the upper hand, the stage was set at Wrestlemania 21 in Los Angeles’ Staples Centre.
Would Cena be able to win his first WWE championship?
NEXT TIME – THE START OF THE CENA ERA
Many thanks for reading, and may I take this opportunity to step away from wrestling, and to wish my younger sister Gemma a very happy birthday.
Until next time, this is wrestlingnews.net and I am James Tee
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