WWE Classic of the Week: John Cena vs. the Rock, WrestleMania 29

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WWE Classic of the Week: John Cena vs. the Rock, WrestleMania 29
Credit: WWE.com

On April 1, 2012, World Wrestling Entertainment presented the biggest match this generation of fans had ever seen when current megastar John Cena squared off against Attitude Era megastar The Rock in a match billed as a "once in a lifetime" contest. The match headlined WrestleMania 28 and was responsible for the most successful pay-per-view event in WWE history. The Rock left his hometown of Miami victorious, while it would take Cena a year to get over his biggest loss.

While many thought Rock's win would end the rivalry with Cena once and for all, fate seemed to bring them together once more at the start of 2013, when Rock captured the WWE title and Cena won the Royal Rumble, setting them up on a collision course for a rematch at the biggest event of the year.

 

The Background

At the 2013 Royal Rumble, The Rock overcame a very game CM Punk and interference from The Shield to end Punk's 434-day WWE Championship reign and captured the title for the first time in 12 years. A month later at Elimination Chamber, he again defeated Punk, cashing his ticket to WrestleMania 29's main event. It would be the second consecutive year that the most electrifying man was involved in the top match at the Showcase of the Immortals.

John Cena had a memorable Royal Rumble event, winning the 30-man over-the-top-rope Rumble bout and earning a shot at the WWE Championship. That title opportunity was put in jeopardy on the February 25 episode of Monday Night Raw when Cena defended it against CM Punk, who thought he deserved the opportunity to go to WrestleMania and compete for the title he held for more than a year.

In a classic bout, one of 2013's best, Cena threw everything (including a Frankensteiner) at Punk before finishing him off with the Attitude Adjustment. The win cemented Cena's status as the No. 1 contender and set up a second WrestleMania clash between him and The Rock.

For Cena, the match was personal. He accredited a number of personal failures, not to mention professional ones, to the loss against The Rock at WrestleMania XXVIII and looked forward to avenging the loss and regaining the WWE title at the same time.

"I need to beat you, Rock," summed up the desperation Cena was feeling. Rock's "you think you can beat me, I know I can beat you," was a money line that highlighted the doubts surrounding Cena's ability to win the match.

With the bout official, WWE rolled into East Rutherford and MetLife Stadium for WrestleMania XXIX and what was apparently a twice-in-a-lifetime match.

 

The Match

 

Analysis

The excitement, the anticipation and the epic feel surrounding the original Rock-Cena encounter at WrestleMania XXVIII was sorely missing from their rematch. Most expected that their title match at WrestleMania XXIX existed solely to put Cena over in a "passing of the torch" moment, and that is exactly what happened.

The ring work did not live up to the standard set by their first match. Rather than gradually building to high spots late in the match, their rematch featured very basic work to start before suddenly exploding into signature maneuvers and the trading of finishers.

There was a decided lack of story and no real transition from one spot to the next. It was simply two heavyweights throwing everything at one another, and unfortunately for the quality of the match, it was not the best approach to take.

That the post-match embrace and handshake between the two iconic figures in sports entertainment was greeted with a chorus of boos from fans who did not want to see Rock give Cena his endorsement only hurt the entire ordeal.

 

Historical Significance

As it stands as of April 1, 2014, the WrestleMania XXIX main event was the last match wrestled by The Rock. An abdominal injury suffered in the match is sure to make his insurance company nervous about any further appearances in the squared circle.

Cena got the recognition, respect and endorsement of his peer before embarking on another solid WWE Championship reign, which ended when he did the same for Daniel Bryan that Rock did for him. He has not regained the title since.

The match was the culmination of a three-year journey that began with the Rock's return at WrestleMania XXVII, advanced to the following year's event and concluded with Cena finally defeating one of the greatest champions in WWE history to earn the right to add his name to the legendary stars that have come before him (even though his accomplishments had already done that).

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