WWE Backlash 2003: A Look Back on the Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena Match
Next Sunday night, WWE will present a huge show. Extreme Rules will feature a main event of John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar. As a paying customer of this business, you know I will be watching intently.
However, these two have faced off before on pay-per-view. While this may seem like a dream match, it is not the first time these two have done battle. Nine years ago this month, they faced off for the WWE Championship.
What happened? Let's find out!
Cena's First Test
Brock Lesnar was the WWE Champion. With a need for new opponents on the Smackdown brand, the company took a chance on John Cena in April 2003.
He had been doing some nice work, but this was his first big test in the main-event scene. Cena was in a feud with Lesnar, and it was certainly a breath of fresh air.
Win or lose, Cena made his name known during this time.
Safety Comes First
Brock Lesnar had hit the Shooting Star Press before perfectly. It was not a new move for him. He had used the high-risk offense plenty of other times.
At Wrestle Mania XIX, he missed. Big time!
As most have probably seen a million times, Lesnar all but landed on the top of his head to close out the biggest event of the year. It was a scary scene, but he made it through the final parts of the match.
Thus, there was a major reason to worry about his future, both short and long term.
His first major match back in the fold was at Backlash 2003 defending his title against Cena. It may have seemed like a normal match, but a lot of eyes were on Lesnar to see if he was truly "back."
At WrestleMania XIX, John Cena did not have a match.
The following event, he was in a WWE Title match with Brock Lesnar.
How did he get there?
Smackdown held a tournament to see who would get the next shot at Lesnar. With Kurt Angle out of the picture due to injuries, it made the most sense for the Blue Brand.
During the next few weeks, Cena pinned great talents like Eddie Guerrero and Undertaker. While they were not very "clean," a win is a win.
Cena was doing a nice job as the young heel acting disrespectful to everybody and everything.
Just like in 2012, there really was no other outcome.
Lesnar had to win. Cena could put up a great effort, but there was no reason for him to pick up a victory. Everybody knew it, but that didn't matter.
A new talent was stepping up to the plate and delivering every week. Lesnar was always going to beat him in the middle of the ring, but the path to Backlash was very entertaining.
Their match did not close the show. It was a "main event" WWE Championship match, but the event was filled with other good matches.
The Raw side had Triple H, Chris Jericho and Ric Flair battle Kevin Nash, Shawn Michaels and Booker T in a six-man tag team match. Yes, The Game was World Champion and didn't defend the gold this night.
It is something I wish would happen more often these days. With a stacked show, both the WWE and World Titles do not need to be defended every single pay-per-view. At least one does, though!
In the main event was the first (and only?) The Rock vs. Bill Goldberg match.
As you can see, Lesnar vs. Cena was not going to get high priority. However, both men had a good match that saw a few rough spots but delivered in the end.
At around 15 minutes, Lesnar showed the world he was officially back to full health. As for Cena, he proved to everybody watching that he was going to be a major player one day.
The match was not a classic. It certainly was not even a match of the year candidate, but it was a very memorable match based on the history of the two men.
In eight days, the two will step into the ring for yet another match. This time, both wrestlers are huge names, and we can only hope for an excellent outing that will top Backlash 2003!