2. vs. Daniel Bryan (2013)
With Triple H as the special guest referee, once again, Cena lost this match as clean as anyone possibly could. Cena does some excellent work seeming a bit unsure about the state of his recently operated elbow and appearing frustrated by Bryan’s audacity. This match was physical and worked at a frenetic pace. Bryan excelled at being an aggressive underdog who charged at Cena like a pitbull no matter how many times he was denied.
This big title fight featured awesome moments like a slap fight — wherein Bryan got the better of Cena — and a perfectly put-together finishing stretch. Bryan attempts a top-rope Crossbody but Cena catches and wills him onto his shoulders for an AA, but Bryan counters with a rollup pin attempt that Cena kicked out of.
Before Cena could even stand, Bryan kicked him in the head and retreated to a corner of the ring. He realized the gravity of the situation as Cena laid on the mat, unconscious. Glory was within reach, and Bryan charged up a devastating running knee that knocked Cena out and secured the pinfall victory. These two all-time greats created an enthralling classic match fueled by an underdog theme and spectacular action.
1. vs. AJ Styles (2016)
Cena’s greatest showing at SummerSlam does not happen without the amazing performance from AJ Styles. Styles had finally arrived in WWE and took the promotion by storm, which meant a program with Cena was in order. This dream match manifested at one of Cena’s last SummerSlam appearances before deciding to spend more time in Hollywood. As is the tradition in pro wrestling, Cena did his best to make Styles as he neared the end of his full-time career as a wrestler. Styles did more than his fair share, bumping for Cena like he was on a mission to destroy his body.
Cena learned that AJ Styles was unlike anyone he had ever shared the ring with. He hit Styles with everything, and yet, he survived. Cena unleashed a Code Red (that he does bizarrely well) and a Spinning DDT on Styles, but kicking out of an Avalanche AA sent him spiraling. His bewildered scowl was an omen for the apparent, that this would not be Cena’s night. As a last-ditch effort, Cena loads Styles onto his shoulders for another AA but ends up taking the Styles Clash. Styles crawls to the ring apron to seal Cena’s fate. Phenomenal Forearm, 1-2-3.