WWE Classic of the Week: Remembering John Cena vs Triple H at Night of Champions
Triple H drove John Cena's head into the mat and ended a classic bout with a victory he had long hungered for.
It was June 29, 2008 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas when Triple H retained the WWE Championship against Cena in one of the best matches in Night of Champions history.
At this year's Night of Champions, Triple H figures to be a prominent figure as well. His lackey Randy Orton defends the WWE title against a man he's quickly grown to hate in Daniel Bryan.
Half a decade ago, it was Triple H, the one with the gold, headlining the event.
Cena defeated Triple H at WrestleMania 22 by way of submission. Triple H coveted the chance to make up for that defeat, to erase the memory of him tapping out at the grandest stage the business has to offer.
Injuries delayed the rematch two years. Cena's torn pectoral muscle kept him out of action and forced him to forfeit the WWE Championship. Beating Jeff Hardy earned him a chance to reclaim that title, bring it back to Raw and remain undefeated against The Game.
Cena entered the ring first and awaited the champion.
Triple H made him wait there for a few moments, as his entrance music didn't hit right away. Michael Cole spun it as the champ playing head games with Cena.
The two powerhouses crashed into each other like rams.
At first, the wrestlers traded shoves and taunts. Cena clamped on a headlock that looked tight enough to pop Triple H's eyes out. The Game soon gained the advantage by ducking away from a flying shoulder block and watching Cena tumble out of the ring.
The Cerebral Assassin then ground his knees and elbows into Cena, targeting his lower back.
Cena had to drag himself around the ring by hanging onto the ropes, writhing in pain until he gathered enough strength to mount an offensive attack of his own. As much star power was in the ring, it felt like two titans out of a myth were battling.
Triple H thwarted a Five Knuckle Shuffle attempt by lifting his knee into Cena's jaw. Cena later flung Triple H over the ropes, which damaged the champ’s knee. He held his leg in pain, much like Cena would reach for his aching back throughout the night.
Pain would come before glory.
The even match saw both men try for their finishing moves, but when Triple H hit the Pedigree, he couldn't make the pin in time, as his throbbing knee delayed him too much.
In agony himself, Triple H cranked Cena's neck back in the crossface.
It took that move, a second Pedigree and surviving Cena's STF for an impossibly long time to keep Cena down. The classic match required no steel chairs or convoluted interference. Theirs was a simple, brutal symphony.
Two huge stars, a championship on the line and excellent performances is a formula WWE follows time and time again, but not often to this level of success.
Matt Bishop of Slam Sports! rated the match 8.5 out of 10. It's a match that Orton and Bryan will attempt to surpass on Sept. 15.
Their chemistry has proven to be the explosive kind, with a story that has been engrossing thus far. Triple H could be standing at ringside watching two new stars outdo the classic that he and Cena composed together.
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