In October 2007 John Cena completely tore his pectoral muscle and was said to be out of action for six months to a year. Three months later he was a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble Match and somehow won it as he entered as #30. While many people think the WWE gives Cena everything on a silver platter, I was impressed with how hard Cena worked to get back in the ring. I promise to try to write this without all of the annoyance and angst many of us have been feeling toward Cena for his uber corniness and the way the WWE has jammed him down our throats at every turn. I want this to be fun and enjoyable, not just more grrrrr about Cena.
The 21st annual Royal Rumble took place on January 27th at Madison Square Garden. The dark match showed Shannon Moore and Jimmy Wang Yang defeating Deuce ‘N Domino. The PPV started with Flair defeating MVP in a Career Threatening Match – basically the stip was that if Flair lost he would have to retire. JBL defeated Jericho by DQ after quite a back and forth match. While fighting outside the ring Jericho was slammed into a ring post and busted wide open. JBL started clearing the ECW announce table, but Jericho was done and hit JBL with a chair. The ref called for the bell, but Jericho didn’t take any notice and choked JBL with some ringside cables, the way JBL had done to him on a previous RAW. Edge, with Vickie, Hawkins and Ryder, defeated Rey to retain his World Heavyweight Championship. Orton defeated Jeff Hardy to retain his WWE Championship.
The Royal Rumble Match started with Taker and HBK as entrants numbers one and two. Taker lasted 32:33 until HBK eliminated him. Three seconds later Mr. Kennedy, #23, eliminated HBK! Hornswoggle entered at #9, but spent much of the match under the ring. Big Daddy V (Viscera), #24, and Mark Henry, #25, double teamed Hornswoggle, so Finlay rushed the ring and attacked them with his shillelagh. It was decided that since Finlay jumped the gun, before his number came up and used his shillelagh, he was disqualified. Hornswoggle came out of the ring through the ropes and was escorted up the ramp by Finlay. Hornswoggle never returned to the match, even though he hadn’t been eliminated. Trip entered at #29 and dominated. He eliminated Big Daddy V, Batista, Foley, and Kane. This was Kane’s 10th consecutive Royal Rumble Match, a record. #30 came up and Cena’s music hit; Trip stood in the center of the ring in shock. Cena shouldn’t have been back that quickly from his injury, but he somehow managed it and pulled off one of the biggest surprises in the WWE since the IWC grew to such a size. Cena and Trip faced off in the ring. Trip tried for a pedigree, but Cena countered with an FU (AA) that sent Trip from the ring and won Cena the match. Cena was the winner with the shortest time in the Royal Rumble Match with 8:27, breaking Brock’s 8:59.
Cena decided he wanted to face Orton for the WWE Championship, but didn’t want to wait for WMXXIV. They faced off at No Way Out, but Orton got himself intentionally disqualified, so he retained the Title. At the same PPV Trip won the RAW Elimination Chamber Match by pinning Jeff Hardy. He went on to face Orton and Cena in a Triple Threat Match at WMXXIV for the WWE Championship, but Orton. At Backlash Cena was again unable to win the WWE Championship in the Fatal 4 Way Elimination Match. Orton pinned Cena, but it was Trip who won the WWE Championship. During this match Cena eliminated JBL which rekindled their previous feud.
Cena defeated JBL at Judgment Day, then again at One Night Stand in a First Blood Match. JBL fought back and defeated Cena in a New York City Parking Lot Brawl at the Great American Bash. On August 4th on RAW Cena tagged with Batista to defeat Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase for the World Tag Team Championship, but lost them back to Cody and Ted the next week. Batista defeated Cena at SummerSlam.
Cena was named one of four contenders for CM Punk’s World Heavyweight Championship to be defended in the Championship Scramble at Unforgiven, but Cena had to be replaced by Rey because he had a herniated disk in his neck that required surgery. Cena’s surgery was a success an he was backstage at Unforgiven, even though he’d just had surgery. Cena’s doctor was there with him that night and everyone was in shock to see him as he should have been home recuperating, but he just couldn’t stay away. Dedication or obsession?
Cena returned at Survivor Series and defeated Jericho to win his first World Heavyweight Championship. They continued to feud to Armageddon where Cena retained his Title. Cena ended up dropping the World Heavyweight Championship at No Way Out to Edge. Edge attacked Kofi Kingston before he could enter the Elimination Chamber, then took Kofi’s spot in the match.
Cena had quite the roller coaster of a year. Between fighting to recover and return for such a huge surprise at the Royal Rumble, then to win it! He didn’t win any big championships right away, but he did win one and had some great feuds getting there. I will say that Cena’s feuds were more diversified at this point than it seems now. It wasn’t long after this that they shoved Cena versus Orton down our throats for what felt like forever! People might complain about Cena, but he had a solid base and really worked his way up the ranks, for that I respect him. Actually, I respect Cena for many things he’s done, both in and outside of the wrestling industry.