AJ Styles and John Cena had one hell of a rivalry in 2016. Cena and Styles had a classic the first time they faced each other at Money in the Bank. Then, they had another at SummerSlam. Five months later at the Royal Rumble, they would fight again. But this time, with a lot more on the line.
Styles’ WWE Championship was up for grabs, and Cena’s shot at the elusive 16th Championship reign. And man, did they ever deliver. In what was one of 2017’s Matches of the Year, the two icons did what they did best in San Antonio. Cena ended the match emphatically with an AA-rollthrough-AA combo to win the title for the 16th time.
4. Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins | WWE Championship Triple Threat Match, 2015 | Rating: ****¾
The 2015 Rumble was… okay, anyways, Brock Lesnar, John Cena and Seth Rollins stole the damn show in Philadelphia on this night.
This match wasn’t your typical WWE triple threat match. It was chaotic. It was hectic. It was like watching wildfire in wrestling form. EVERYONE found a way to make an impact. Seth Rollins got his breakthrough opportunity here, and boy, oh boy, did he make the most of it. Rollins’ Phoenix Splash is one of the more memorable spots of this matchup. He wouldn’t win the title that night, as Brock would retain, but he would get the last laugh a few months later...
3. Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit | WWE Championship, 2003 | Rating: *****
SmackDown’s epic run in 2002 was largely aided by the SmackDown Six, and Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit were at the forefront. The Rabid Wolverine had spent much of his time in the WWF as a heel, besides for a run in 2001 against… you guessed it: Kurt Angle, but the tide was turning in his favor late in 2002. He would earn the right to be #1 contender going into the 2003 Rumble, and on that night in Boston, he faced off against his rival.
What would happen next was one of the greatest WWE Title Matches EVER. Point blank period. Not just the Rumble. EVER. Angle and Benoit put on a wrestling clinic for nearly 20 minutes, with the story focusing in on Benoit’s quest to become WWE Champion for the first time ever. Angle would retain the championship that night, but the booking in this match was Hall of Fame-grade. This is the best pure wrestling match in the history of the Royal Rumble. And it likely won’t EVER be topped.
2. John Cena vs. Umaga | WWE Championship Last Man Standing, 2007 | Rating: *****
The 2007 Royal Rumble in San Antonio is one of the best Rumbles ever. Largely because of the main event, but also because of the Last Man Standing Match that happened that night. John Cena and Umaga had what is regarded as the greatest LMS Match in history that night, and any run through the match can show you why.
#SuperCena booking be damned here, because The Samoan Bulldozer was hardly hurt at all. This is one of the last REALLY brutal matches in WWE before the turn to PG in 2008, so there’s blood and violence galore. Plenty of usages of the steel steps were used, and Cena won the match after passing ‘Mags out with the unlatched ring ropes.
1. Triple H vs. Cactus Jack | WWF Championship Street Fight, 2000 | Rating: *****