John Cena’s Greatest SummerSlam Matches, Ranked

WWE, John Cena (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images)
WWE, John Cena (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images) /
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CM Punk in WWE
WWE, CM Punk (Photo by Moses Robinson/Getty Images) /

6. vs. CM Punk vs. Big Show (2012)

This match was a convergence of things that just work in wrestling: Big Show in a multi-man match, Punk was fresh off the start of a heel turn, and John Cena lifting the Big Show. Show spent most of the match bullying his opponents, which could be boring under one-on-one circumstances, but it worked here because while Punk was down and out, in came Cena for his turn to take the giant down, and so forth.

Show was the most valuable participant of the match, and it became most interesting when Cena and Punk finally got him to the ground. Cena and Punk locked a grounded Show in their own respective submissions, simultaneously getting him to tap.

Both men celebrated their preconceived wins despite there being no clear winner, therefore, the match was restarted.

Cena delivered an Attitude Adjustment (formerly the FU) to Show, which will never not be his coolest show of strength, but was immediately thrown outside the ring before covering him for a pin him by Punk, who then pinned Show for the win. The struggle to bring Big Show down and all the offense dished out before getting to that point made this an awesome watch.

5. vs. CM Punk (2011)

Cena’s evolution as a wrestler coincides with an influx of talent from the independent wrestling scene. It started with CM Punk. His match with Punk in July of 2011 is regarded by fans as a unanimous classic, so there was pressure on both men to deliver.

Cena was met with chants of “you can’t wrestle!” that in, and beyond, 2011 felt impulsive. In response, Cena and Punk engaged in a chain wrestling sequence. Cena’s transitions from one hold to another were remarkably smooth when considering his size.

The technical brilliance continued when Punk put him in a Koji Clutch that Cena turned into his STF, but Punk maneuvered out of it and into an Anaconda Vice before Cena escaped into a Crossface. Try saying all of that without getting winded.

Triple H remains impartial as the guest referee, which is a role designed to make you believe someone will be cheated. No one is deliberately screwed, but H did not catch Cena placing his foot on the rope, costing Cena a chance to win the match. This sequel falls short of the standard they set the month prior, but they have a technically great back-and-forth match worthy of praise.