Comparing the WWE Careers of Randy Orton and John Cena
Both men dominated the business with their multiple WWE and Wolrd Heavyweight title reigns.
These two have crossed paths many times throughout their illustrious careers, but they never met one-on-one at a WrestleMania.
John Cena is still the main draw for WWE. He’s a 10-time WWE champion and two-time Royal Rumble winner. Orton, on the other hand, is trying to find his role as a face. He is a six-time WWE champion, three-time World champion and the 2009 Royal Rumble winner.
From two rookies making the climb to the top to over 10 years with WWE, let’s compare the careers of these two Superstars.
The Early Years
Randy Orton debuted against Hardcore Holly in 2002 on SmackDown.
While recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered a few weeks after his Raw debut, Orton slowly turned heel as he interrupted other segments with his own Randy News Network segment, updating the fans on his condition.
He had his first taste of gold when he defeated Rob Van Dam for the WWE Intercontinental Championship at the 2003 Armageddon and began a seven-month title reign as a member of Evolution.
Orton then became the No. 1 contender for the World Heavyweight title after winning a 20-man battle royal. At the 2004 SummerSlam, Orton defeated Chris Benoit to become the youngest World champion at the age of 24.
John Cena debuted on June 27, 2002 when he answered Kurt Angle’s open challenge and almost defeated the Olympic Gold Medalist.
He then moved on to feud with Chris Jericho, whom he defeated for his first big-time win at Vengeance.
Cena turned heel when he attacked Billy Kidman after they lost in the first round of the WWE Tag Team Championship tournament.
Cena then began dressing as Vanilla Ice and freestyle rapping, which was the beginning of the Doctor of Thuganomics gimmick.
Cena chased the WWE Championship and Brock Lesnar in April 2003. During the feud, Cena introduced his finisher, the F-U, mocking Lesnar’s F-5. Cena ultimately lost to Lesnar at Backlash. By the end of the year, he was a face after joining Angle’s Survivor Series team.
Cena took part in the 2004 Royal Rumble match, making it to the final six before being eliminated by Big Show. Cena then feuded with Big Show and defeated him for the United States Championship, his first title, at WrestleMania XX.
Each man had a lengthy run as the secondary champion for their respective brands before reaching the main event. We knew that Orton and Cena would be major players in the WWE; it was just a matter of when.
The New Faces of WWE
Randy Orton turned his attention to The Undertaker and “The Streak” at WrestleMania 21, but lost.
Cena defeated John Bradshaw Layfield for the WWE title at WrestleMania 21.
Cena lost the title to Edge, who cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase at New Year’s Revolution after Cena competed in an Elimination Chamber match. Although, Cena won the title back three weeks later at the Royal Rumble.
Rob Van Dam won the WWE Championship at One Night Stand with the help of Edge. Edge won the title in a triple threat match on an episode of Raw. Cena won the championship once again when he defeated Edge in a TLC match at Unforgiven, beginning a 380-day reign.
Orton and Cena clashed for the first time in 2007, first at SummerSlam, then at Unforgiven with Cena retaining the title both times.
Orton was awarded the title at No Mercy after Cena vacated it due to suffering a torn pectoral muscle. After losing the title to Triple H in the first match of the night, Orton won back the title at the end in a Last Man Standing match.
Cena won the 2008 rumble match, which reignited their feud. Cena used his title shot at No Way Out and won, but by disqualification. Orton retained the title at WrestleMania XXIV in a Triple Threat match also featuring Triple H.
He lost the title the following month to Triple H at Backlash. In a rematch at One Night Stand, Orton broke his collarbone.
Cena returned at the 2008 Survivor Series after suffering from a herniated disc and defeated Jericho for his first World Heavyweight Championship. He held the title until No Way Out where Edge won. He regained the title at WrestleMania XXV in a Triple Threat match also including Big Show.
Orton returned in September and began the slow formation of Legacy and feuded with CM Punk. He won the 2009 Royal Rumble and challenged Triple H for the WWE title at WrestleMania XXV, but lost. He won the title the next month at Backlash.
After losing the title to Batista, Orton was once again champion after winning a Fatal 4-Way match. He then traded title reigns with John Cena over the next two months.
After losing the title to Sheamus at TLC, Cena won the title at the 2010 Elimination Chamber, but lost it minutes later to Batista. Cena began his seventh reign at WrestleMania XXVI.
Legacy eventually broke up and Orton defeated Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes in a Triple Threat match at WrestleMania XXVI, turning him face for the first time since 2005. Orton won the WWE title for a sixth time when he won a six-man match Night of Champions.
At this point, Cena was a three-time United States, two-time World tag, seven-time WWE and a two-time World champion. Orton held the intercontinental title, World tag team and World titles one time and the WWE title six times.
It was obvious that Cena was becoming the face of the WWE while Orton was just a supporting player.
Cena won the WWE title three more times, making him a record 10-time champion and a two-time WWE Tag Team champion.
The Rock cost Cena the WWE title at WrestleMania XXVII against the Miz, thus setting up their "Once in a Lifetime" match the following year. Surprisingly, The Rock defeated Cena. Brock Lesnar returned the next time and attacked Cena, setting up their match at Extreme Rules, which Cena won.
After a feud with John Laurinaitis, he entered his first Money in the Bank match and won. However, he was also the first to cash in the briefcase and lose.
He won the 2013 Royal Rumble, becoming just the fourth Superstar to win multiple rumble matches. This set up a rematch with The Rock. Cena looks to become an 11-time WWE champion at WrestleMania XXIX.
Orton kicked off 2011 in a feud with CM Punk and the New Nexus. They faced off at WrestleMania XXVII, which Orton won. He was drafted to SmackDown and beat Punk in a Last Man Standing match at Extreme Rules.
He then won the World Heavyweight Championship for the second time by defeating Christian, but lost it back to him at Money in the Bank. Orton regained the title a month later at SummerSlam for his third title reign. He lost the title to Mark Henry at Hell in a Cell.
Orton has not held a championship since then. He's feuded with Wade Barrett, Kane, Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio among others, but he isn't the star player he was back in the late 2000s.
There's no doubt that John Cena is the bigger, and more successful, Superstar. However, there was a point where Randy Orton was the bigger star.
They are both very talented in the ring and can put on some exciting matches. It's still surprising that it has been over 10 years since their debuts. There's no telling how much more each man has left in the tank, but they're not going anywhere anytime soon.
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