John Cena vs. the Rock: The 15 Greatest Moments from Their WrestleMania Feud
When the Rock took one last walk up the WWE RAW walkway, making his final scheduled appearance for now, I couldn't help but feel a little empty inside. The emptiness did not have as much to do with the Rock leaving as it did with this long story (and perhaps a long chapter) of John Cena vs. the Rock coming to a close.
In booking their feud over the course of one year, following the saga between Cena and the Rock really was like reading a book, and like any good novel, the final pages of the book are poignant in that it's much like saying goodbye to a cast of characters who have created an emotional connection.
The Cena vs. Rock feud was not always pretty, and definitely had its flaws, but it could soon prove to be the most lucrative WrestleMania feud in WWE history.
Looking back on the highlights of these two top stars' power struggle to be the best, one can easily find a myriad of entertainment driven by tension and competition.
15. John Cena Kicks off WrestleMania Build with Scathing Promo Against The Rock
After defeating Kane at Elimination Chamber, John Cena kicked off the homestretch build to WrestleMania with an impassioned promo against the Rock, who he dubbed a "phony."
Cena immediately put the emphasis on winning the match, vowing that the post-WrestleMania headline would read that John Cena defeats the Rock in his hometown of Miami, Florida.
14. John Cena Delivers an Attitude Adjustment to The Rock
The first instance of physicality between John Cena and the Rock came leading up to WrestleMania XXVII. The two finally had their long-awaited in-ring confrontation.
This led to the Rock getting the better of the Miz in a brief scrap, only to take Cena's Attitude Adjustment shortly thereafter.
This was one of a few rare pre-WrestleMania XXVIII physical altercations between Cena and the Rock, as the two did a good job keeping the build primarily on the mic.
13. The Rock Rock Bottoms John Cena at WrestleMania XXVII
WrestleMania XXVII's main event pit John Cena vs. the Miz, but even the WrestleMania XXVII main event felt like it was all a tool to build towards WrestleMania XXVIII.
This was never more apparent than when last year's WrestleMania closed with the Rock posing in the ring after delivering a Rock Bottom to John Cena and clearing the ring of the Miz—who came off like a paper champion amidst all the boots to asses.
12. The Rock and Cena Go Back and Forth on Final RAW Showdown
The Rock and John Cena needed to deliver a strong final sales pitch for the most anticipated match in WWE history, and deliver they did.
The two went back and forth in a face off filled with emotion and intensity. The Rock's most brilliant line came when he emphasized the importance of being the only man to defeat Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, and John Cena at WrestleMania, while Cena continued to talk about how he needed a WrestleMania win more than anything.
After a heated war of words, this was a good note to end on before all the smoke had cleared.
11. John Cena's Empty Arena Promo
While knee-deep in WrestleMania season, John Cena countered the Rock's lighthearted, comedic "History Lesson" promos with a serious, focused promo where he talked up his obsession with beating the Rock.
This was a unique promo in that Cena was sitting in an empty RAW arena, and it provided a breath of fresh air to the RAW broadcast.
This was the type of promo that was really designed to sell the WrestleMania XXVIII match, as Cena went through multiple reasons as to why this match was so important to him.
10. Rock History Lessons
The Rock's first promo after returning to the WWE to help hype WrestleMania fell a bit flat and was successfully combated by John Cena immediately following its conclusion.
The Rock regained his mojo with a very entertaining series of promos where he gave history lessons relevant to Boston—that week's host city for RAW and Cena's hometown—while tearing down John Cena.
With their on-point delivery and anti-Cena hilarity, it was safe to say that while he may have been a week late, the Rock was back.
9. John Cena Reprises Degree in Thuganomics
It had been years since John Cena graced WWE fans with one of the a Cappella freestyles that made him into a star, but his war of words with the Rock last year was a special occasion that necessitated the dusting off of his emcee microphone.
After being schooled by the Rock the previous week in Rocky's triumphant return, Cena got back into the war with a clever rap, and while it may have gotten him in hot water with headline-hungry activists due to what they perceived as homophobic remarks, Cena was in rare form on this night.
8. The Rock to Cena: "[Real] Men See Through B.S."
Perhaps the best promo that the Rock cut against John Cena didn't even come during an episode of RAW, but rather in the form of a viral video that the Rock cut on location.
The Rock's language and demeanor was certainly the antithesis of the serene, hedonistic scenery which he stood in front of. The Rock cut a take-no-prisoners promo in response to Cena blasting Rock at a live event in Australia.
Filled with curse words wrapped in Rock's unmistakable charisma, this wonderfully fire-breathing sermon was the Rock at his best.
7. The Rock's "Rocky" Promo
The Rock continued his effective string of promos via satellite when he stood in front of the famed Rocky statue in Philadelphia and gave a magnificent speech of what a victory of Cena would mean to him, in terms of history.
This was really one of the first times that the Rock had directly addressed beating Cena, as he spoke of the greats who came before him and how a victory would bring the WWE's storied history full circle.
Not much else was done to further the feud in a live capacity on this night, but the Rock did more than enough to further the tension and buildup to a hot showdown.
6. John Cena Goes into Full Thuganomics Mode with an Anti-Rock Rap
Some complained about Cena dressing up like a rapper to verbally hijack the Rock in the show opener of the Rock-Cena concerts in Cleveland, but these critics simply do not understand the concept of throwback.
Dressed in full gimmick as if it were 2003, John Cena released his third freestyle on the Rock, with this one being the most potent.
Among aspects of the Rock that were mocked by Cena were the Rock's cosmetic surgery on his pecs, as well as Rock's tendencies to write notes on his wrist.
5. The Rock Mocks Cena in Concert
The Rock's concert on RAW a few weeks ago was one of the most enjoyable segments of RAW (pre-Brock Lesnar's return) in a while.
The Rock sampled Elvis' "Hound Dog" while going after Cena's marriage, music—and even his mom.
And while Rock's post-concert karaoke was definitely a sour note of an ending to an otherwise humorous concert, this was one of the highest of highlights of the Cena-Rock feud.
4. John Cena vs. The Rock: "Once in a Lifetime" Special
The WWE really got into the spirit of selling a big time match by airing a compelling TV special entitled Once in a Lifetime.
The special focused on the journeys of both John Cena and the Rock. While the lone flaw of the documentary was its underemphasis of conflict between Cena and the Rock, the piece served as a guide for the average fan to get an all-access look at the lifestyles of the two biggest stars in sports entertainment.
3. The Rock Returns to the Ring to Team Up with John Cena at Survivor Series
After almost eight years away from the ring, the Rock finally returned at Survivor Series inside Madison Square Garden, which was the same exact setting where he debuted in 1996.
The Rock was free of ring rust in his first match back as his performance garnered chants of "You still got it!" and "Don't tag Cena!" from the fervent New York crowd.
Tagging with his WrestleMania opponent John Cena, the Rock picked up the victory for his team before hitting Cena with a Rock Bottom.
2. The Rock Comes Back to the WWE
WWE Chairman Vince McMahon announced that a big name would return to the WWE to host WrestleMania, and he certainly did not disappoint.
Fans in Anaheim exploded upon hearing the familiar theme music as the Rock came home.
The Rock didn't miss a beat on the mic as he dressed down John Cena, famously calling the WWE poster boy a "Fruity Pebble."
John Cena vs. The Rock: WrestleMania XXVIII
After a full year dominated by talk, social media trash talk, and everything but the match that fans had been waiting for, it was definitely a daunting task for John Cena and the Rock to live up to such hype in ring.
But on April 1, 2012, the match between Cena and the Rock did not live up to the hype. It lived past it.
It was a back and forth match inside a hostile environment that desperately wanted to see Cena beat. And while Cena fans were able to come together for key points of the match and combat a pro-Rock crowd, Cena would go down in defeat in a match that was almost flawless.
The epic encounter between Cena and the Rock was a textbook main event match as the two gave everything they had to, and they did what they had been guaranteeing they would do for a year: win.