I took my kids to the Royal Rumble with a group of friends last night and while I was considering writing a recap from the perspective inside the arena (the crowd reaction when Chris Jericho came out as #2 in the Rumble was one of the five loudest things I've ever heard and sustained longer than any cheers I've heard at any sporting event) or giving my opinions on why Rock winning the championship undermines the WWE's future (Rock's win sends the message that the best wrestlers of today are not as good as wrestlers from ten years ago even if those wrestlers are a decade past their primes and have only wrestled twice since the Johnny Carson died).
I might still do either of those things, but today I wound up thinking about John Cena's feel good, underdog-makes-good story of winning the Rumble and earning his spot in the main event at Wrestlemania--a place he certainly wouldn't have been without snatching that opportunity. I was watching the C.M. Punk: Best in the World DVD and his match with Cena at Money in the Bank in Chicago where he'd vowed to win the championship. The crowd reminded me of the ECW: One Night Stand show where Cena lost the title to Rob Van Dam before a violently hostile crowd.
So I spent almost two hours reading through pay-per-view recaps to learn when Cena became too good for losing, wondering just how many times he's lost clean (being pinned or tapping out without being cheated by outside interference or having some other excuse that he didn't "really" lose).
The answer was Wrestlemania 25.
A month before that show, Cena was pinned cleanly by Edge in an Elimination Chamber match at No Way Out (2009). He has somewhere between five and one clean wins since then. I've bolded the losses that could be considered clean depending on how generous you're feeling with the definition of "clean."
(Turn down your speakers before you click any of the links. Most are fan highlight edits with music over the top.)
At Wrestlemania 25, he beat Edge and Big Show in a Triple Threat match to win the World Heavyweight Championship.
At Backlash, he lost the belt back to Edge in a Last Man Standing match due to interference by the Big Show.
At Judgment Day, he beat Big Show.
At Extreme Rules, he beat Big Show again in a submission match.
At WWE The Bash, he beat the Miz.
At Night of Champions, he lost to Randy Orton in a Triple Threat match after making Orton tap out (along with Triple H) due to interference by Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase.
At SummerSlam, he lost to Randy Orton due to "fan" interference after Orton tried multiple times to get disqualified only to have match restarted.
At Breaking Point, he beat Randy Orton in an I Quit match for the WWE Championship.
At Hell in a Cell, he lost the WWE Championship to Randy Orton. Orton was only able to beat him by tangling him in the ropes, choking him into unconsciousness, then kicking him in the head. Since all this is legal in a Hell in a Cell match, this would be considered a clean win, but only because of stipulations.
At Bragging Rights, he beat Randy Orton in an Iron Man match for the WWE title.
At Survivor Series, he beat Triple H and Shawn Michaels in a Triple Threat match.
At Tables, Ladders, and Chairs, he lost to Sheamus in a tables match when he slipped off the top turnbuckle while setting up to suplex Sheamus through a table.
At the Royal Rumble, he was the last man eliminated by surprise entrant Edge. While this is not a clean pin and while he did get to dominate all the way up to being one of the final two, it's downright job squad by Cena standards.
At Elimination Chamber, he won his Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship, but then lost to Batista in a surprise title defense immediately afterward.
1st Year Record: 8-4 (1 clean), 2nd place finish in Royal Rumble
At Wrestlemania 26, he beat Batista for the WWE Championship.
At Extreme Rules, he beat Batista in a Last Man Standing match.
At Over the Limit, he beat Batista in an I Quit match.
At Fatal 4-Way, he lost the WWE Championship to Sheamus due to interference by Nexus.
At Money in the Bank, he lost to Sheamus in a cage match due to interference by Nexus despite making Sheamus tap out.
At SummerSlam, he won 7-Man tag team elimination matc--note that he won, not his team, as he was the last of the 14 competitors to remain at the end of the match--by making Wade Barrett tap out.
At Night of Champions, he was eliminated from Six-Pack Challenge by Wade Barrett after Nexus interference.
At Hell in a Cell, he lost to Wade Barrett due to "fan" interference.
At Bragging Rights, he and David Otunga won the WWE Tag Team Championship from Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre when Rhodes tapped out to Cena's STF. (The next night, they surrendered the belts to Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel. Since that's not a PPV and Cena didn't get pinned, it won't count in the total, but it seemed like it should be mentioned why Cena is no longer Tag Team Champ.)
At Tables, Ladders, and Chairs, he beat Wade Barrett in a chairs match.
At the Royal Rumble, he came out and cleared the ring of C.M. Punk and the Nexus, who'd been dominating and in full control for half an hour. He made it to the final four but was eliminated when Miz, who was not in the match, snuck in while referees weren't watching and dumped him over the top rope.
At Elimination Chamber, he won the Elimination Chamber match for a shot at the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania.
Second Year Record: 7-4 (0 clean), 5th place finish in Royal Rumble
Two Year Total: 15-8 (1 clean)
At Wrestlemania 27, he lost to Miz on interference from the Rock.
At Extreme Rules, he won the WWE Championship over Miz and John Morrison in a Triple Threat steel cage match.
At Over the Limit, he beat Miz in an I Quit match.
At Capitol Punishment, he beat R-Truth.
At Money in the Bank, he lost cleanly to C.M. Punk for the WWE Championship. Some will argue that Vince McMahon and John Laurinaitis caused a distraction when they came to ringside to help Cena, but considering no one speared Cena or hit him with a chair, Colt Cabana didn't jump out of the crowd and whack Cena with a bag full of doorknobs. That's a clean win.
At SummerSlam, he lost to C.M. Punk because special referee Triple H didn't see that Cena's foot was on the ropes during the pin.
At Night of Champions, he beat Alberto Del Rio for the WWE Championship.
At Hell in a Cell, he lost Triple Threat match for the WWE Championship when Alberto Del Rio pinned C.M. Punk.
At Vengeance, he lost to Alberto Del Rio in a Last Man Standing match due to interference from Miz and R-Truth.
At Survivor Series, he and Rock beat Miz and R-Truth in a tag team match.
At the Royal Rumble, his match with Kane ended with a double count-out draw.
At Elimination Chamber, he beat Kane in an ambulance match.
Third Year Record: 6-5-1 (1 clean)
Three Year Total: 21-13-1 (2 clean)
At Wrestlemania 28, he lost clean to the Rock.
At Extreme Rules, he beat Brock Lesnar.
At Over the Limit, he lost to John Laurinaitis on Big Show interference.
At No Way Out, he beat Big Show in a steel cage match.
At Money in the Bank, he won Money in the Bank for a shot at the WWE Championship.
On Raw's 1000th Episode--not a PPV, but still a huge show, he won against C.M. Punk but didn't win the WWE Championship due to Big Show interference.
At SummerSlam, he lost a Triple Threat match when Punk pinned Big Show (who'd been knocked out by Cena.
At Night of Champions, he pinned C.M. Punk but it was ruled a draw because both men's shoulders were on the mat.
At Survivor Series, he lost a Triple Threat match to Punk on Shield interference. While there was interference in this match, it was against Ryback. Ryback hit Cena with Shell Shock then was swarmed and dragged from the ring while Cena laid there until Punk pinned him, making Shell Shock the only finisher Cena sold in four years.
At Tables, Ladders, and Chairs, he lost a ladder match to Dolph Ziggler on A.J. Lee interference.
At the Royal Rumble, he won the Royal Rumble.
Fourth Year Record to Date: 5-5-1 (two clean)
Four Year Total: 26-18-2 (four clean [five if you count the Royal Rumble he finished second in])
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