On April 1st at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami, the scene was set. The Rock was going to have his first singles match in 9 years back inside a WWE ring. His opponent was none other than the face of WWE, John Cena. In this feature of the Wrestlemania Reimagined series, we’re going to look back at The People’s Champion The Rock going up against WWE’s ultimate underdog John Cena. This was the dream match of the two men who had been synonymous with WWE in their times. Two of WWE’s biggest stars in history would go head to head for the first time ever. This is the story of The Rock vs John Cena, once in a lifetime.
The Rock came back to host the previous year’s WrestleMania, where John Cena was challenging for the WWE Championship against the Miz. In the build-up to this main event, there was some verbal sparring between The Rock and John Cena. Including a very memorable segment where The Rock berates a child dressed as John Cena at his home office. A confrontation on the Raw before Wrestlemania 27 between The Rock and John Cena followed.
The main event was a hard thought contest for the WWE Championship. The match would end in a double count-out before The Rock would take exception to this and restart the match. Once the match started, The Rock hit rock bottom on Cena, allowing Miz to retain. This would set up the confrontation the following night on Raw. The Rock and John Cena announced that at the following year’s WrestleMania, the two men would meet in a match.
The Rock vs John Cena
Once In A Lifetime
For the rest of 2011, the build-up would take shape mostly on Twitter and very occasional
references to the following years’ event. In November, when John Cena found himself the target of The Awesome Truth, and he needed a tag team partner. Who better for John to turn to than his future Wrestlemania opponent, The Rock. In what was billed as being a Never Before NeverAgain tag team, The Rock and Cena wrestled with The Miz and R Truth. Both men taking turns to show the other who is better. The Rock would hit the People’s Elbow on The Miz to score the pinfall.
Cena is walking up the ramp applauding The Rock before being invited back into the ring to share the spotlight. It was there where The Rock made it very clear that he was the favorite with the fans. The Rock would then hit the Rock Bottom on Cena to end the show.
The weeks would tick away, and each man would take his shot and cut their promos on one another in the build-up. The verbal back and forth in the weeks leading up to WrestleMania were fantastic, with the Rock at his one-liner best and John at his best delivery he’s ever produced.
John Cena has earlier this year commented on his encounter with The Rock at Wrestlemania 28, stating –
“I like the fact that I talked enough trash that he eventually came back, and he hasn’t really left. He periodically shows up, and the fans love him now, and they always have—it’s just that he’s around a little bit more. At the same time, I’ve apologized to him in person, I’ve apologized to him publicly. I was completely wrong in the approach that I took. It was one-sided and selfish, and I’m glad the way it worked out, but I apologize for not being able to see his side of the fence.”
On the night of the main event of WrestleMania, the crowd couldn’t be more excited. The internet was as hyped as it had ever been for this dream match. The dream match of a whole generation of wrestling fans was about to take place, following performances of Invincible by Machine Gun Kelly & Good Feeling & Wild Ones by Flo Rida. Both men made their entrances to booming reactions from the crowd. The Rock was definitely the crowd favorite here. Cena was not without his fans, but the reception for most of this match was that The Rock is way more over than Cena here.
The referee calls for the bell to a massive pop from the crowd. The two men would lock up, and Cena would win the first encounter. Throwing the Rock across the ring before the Rock would do the same just moments after. The rock would then get a headlock, and a couple of arm drags in. The crowd is electric to everything The Rock does, and it’s very noticeable. The commentary team touched on the big fight feel as these two heavyweights of the industry collide. The two men would continue to battle for control until Cena could pull the ropes down to send The Rock flying out of the ring.
A Decade In The Making
Cena took the advantage; Cena would get the Rock in a bear hug until The Rock could wrestle free. A few rights and hit his DDT would follow, a 2 count would follow. They would exchange shots. The Rock backed into a corner wallops Cena with a flurry of rights before hitting a running clothesline. He then takes the opportunity to set up for the People’s Elbow but is countered by Cena Rolling his ankle to attempt the STF. The Rock kicks out, allowing Cena to hit his shoulder blocks on Rock, setting up for his slam leading to the five knuckle shuffle.
Cena connects, John waits, and The Rock gains his balance. Cena attempts the AA The Rock counters; both men hit a clothesline at the same time. They both get up at the 8 count and start exchanging blows. The Rock gains the upper hand and taunts Cena. Allowing Cena to hit the Attitude Adjustment, this time connecting for a very close 2 count. He would then try to pick up a prone Rock. The Rock hit the rock bottom and got a very close 2 count of his own. Cena would regain control briefly and hit a leg drop from the top rope. John would try to hit the AA one more time, but The Rock would counter and get Cena in a sharpshooter.
Cena would escape, and the action would move outside for a period. At that point, Cena would hit a sunset flip to the inside of the ring to apply the STF. The Rock would reach the bottom rope after a lengthy STF hold. The Rock would hit the People’s Elbow after countering the AA. Their match would carry on before The Rock’s crossbody would be countered into another AA. Cena would gain a near fall before getting cocky and attempting a People’s Elbow, which The Rock would counter for the Rock Bottom to gain the victory vs John Cena.