Brock Lesnar will challenge John Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam. It's a huge match that could change the landscape of WWE moving forward.
These two giants have faced off before, but their interaction has been very limited. They had a few encounters back in 2003 and another at Extreme Rules when Lesnar returned in 2012, but this is going to be their best encounter yet.
Before we look forward to SummerSlam, let's take a look at the history of these two men. If you leave out their time in Ohio Valley Wrestling, the first encounter between these two powerhouses took place on SmackDown in 2002.
Cena was still pretty new to the scene and this was just a quick victory for Lesnar before a pay-per-view. The next match in February of 2003 was much better.
Lesnar was getting ready to challenge Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania, but first he had to take on the Doctor of Thuganomics.
At this point, Lesnar was a legitimate main event Superstar, while Cena still hadn't risen to that level. He was still wrestling as a heel and didn't really stand a chance against Lesnar at that point in his career.
Despite being much lower than him on the roster, Lesnar actually made Cena look very good during their second encounter by selling plenty of offense and even letting the young Cena come close to beating him a few times.
Their next bout came just a couple of months later at the Backlash pay-per-view. This time, they weren't just fighting for pride; they were fighting for the title.
Cena had been chasing Lesnar for a little while at this point, frequently challenging him to matches and eventually winning a tournament to earn a shot at Lesnar's title.
The match that took place at Backlash was definitely a step up from their SD encounter and gave us a glimpse of the John Cena who would eventually become the unchallenged leader in WWE.
The only other bout these two had before waiting nearly a decade was a match at Survivor Series in 2003, when the two were on opposing teams. Kurt Angle's team defeated Lesnar's, with the two remaining survivors being Chris Benoit and John Cena.
The next time Lesnar and Cena would end up in the same ring was eight years later at Extreme Rules 2012. It was Lesnar's first match in WWE since 2004, and he was looking to make a statement.
Cena got the better of Lesnar that night, putting their record at two wins for Cena and three for Lesnar—so long as you count the match at Survivor Series as a win for Cena.
SummerSlam is going to be where we find out who is truly the most dominant powerhouse in WWE today. It will be the fifth time they will step into the ring together, but it will be the first time where the stakes are this high.
Their previous title match in 2003 did not have the two on equal ground as competitors. Cena was still rising through the ranks, while Lesnar was already a huge star.
Both men are now future Hall of Fame candidates and have carved out their own legacies in the business as two of the toughest competitors to ever lace up a pair of boots.
On top of their status as big stars, the reason this match will be the best in their history is the fact that John Cena is so much better than he was in 2003.
Sure his gimmick might be repetitive, but he always manages to make his big matches memorable. He is easily one of the most consistent performers in WWE today and has had great matches with every top star in the company.
He's much more technically sound, but more importantly, Cena now has a better grasp on how to play the crowd's emotions in order to make for a dramatic conclusion.
A video package for Lesnar vs. Cena has been airing a lot lately, with Lesnar saying that there would be no John Cena if he hadn't left the company in 2004. Not true.
They say the cream always rises to the top, and there is no better example of that being true than John Cena. He has every trait WWE wants in a top star and does more for his fans than anyone in his position would need to simply because he loves them.
However, Cena is not the only one who has upped his game. Brock Lesnar has had plenty of time to get his bearings and become better than he was when he first returned to WWE in 2012.
Their first encounter following Lesnar's return was an Extreme Rules match that helped mask some of his shortcomings with brutality and dangerous spots. It was exciting to watch, though you could tell we were not looking at the same Lesnar who was once the most promising rising star in WWE.
Do you think Cena vs. Lesnar at SummerSlam will outshine Extreme Rules
Some big matches against the likes of Triple H, CM Punk and The Undertaker have given Lesnar the time to improve and get back to the level he used to perform at, effectively evening the playing field between him and Cena.
Most of the bouts Lesnar has been in over the past two years have had major stipulations, but this will be a traditional bout. That means there will be less brutality to hide behind and more opportunity for both men to prove that they deserve the spots they have in the company.
SummerSlam is looking more and more like it will be an incredible show, but Lesnar vs. Cena is probably going to be the match everyone is talking about around the water cooler the next day, if people even do that anymore.
What do you think? Will Cena and Lesnar steal the show, or will this encounter fall short of their match at Extreme Rules 2012?
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