Best Match: vs. CM Punk (2012)
The top star in the industry takes WWE's Night of Champions more seriously than most, delivering outstanding performances year in and year out.
Debuting at the very first event, then titled Vengeance: Night of Champions, Cena was the WWE champion and the workhorse of a company in transition. Triple H was sidelined due to injury, Shawn Michaels was taking time off and for the first time in his career, Cena was expected to carry the weight of the company.
He did just that on June 24, 2007, when he entered Houston's Toyota Center as a champion on the wrong end of a numbers game. For the first time ever, the company promoted a "Championship Challenge" that saw Cena defend his title against 2013 Hall of Famers Mick Foley and King Booker, Randy Orton and Bobby Lashley.
Despite the onslaught from four hungry challengers, and one of the best performances of Bobby Lashley's career, Cena was able to catch Foley with the Attitude Adjustment for the pinfall win.
In the six years that followed, Cena would have matches with the who's who of professional wrestling. His match with Triple H in 2008 was a rematch of the WrestleMania 22 main event. A year later, he and Triple H once again did battle in a WWE title bout, this time in a triple threat match also involving Randy Orton. That match, too, was a rematch from a WrestleMania main event.
2010 saw Cena compete in a Six-Pack Challenge match for the WWE title. The match involved the likes of Sheamus, Chris Jericho, Edge, Randy Orton an Wade Barrett. Orton would win the match and the title as Cena continued to be the centerpiece of the Nexus' invasion storyline.
In September of 2011, WWE was reeling from the revolutionary "Summer of Punk" storyline that elevated CM Punk to the top of the company. John Cena, who was an instrumental piece in the story, was still focused on the WWE Championship, which had been won by Alberto Del Rio after he successfully cashed in his Money in the Bank contract against Punk to close out August's SummerSlam.
Cena would end Del Rio's five-week reign by locking in the STF and scoring the tapout victory.
Cena's Night of Champions resume concludes, for now at least, in 2012. In another chapter in the greatest rivalry of this era, Cena challenged CM Punk in the main event. The two delivered a highly dramatic, back-and-forth bout that came to an unsatisfying conclusion when a double pin resulted in a draw.
Throughout the years, Cena has been tasked with the challenge of carrying a number of pay-per-view events on his broad shoulders. He has also delivered the best match of the night on a number of Night of Champions events, and for that, he ranks as the greatest performer in the history of the show.