John Cena continued his campaign to bring legitimacy back to the United States Championship when he defeated Rusev in a Russian Chain match to retain the title at Sunday night's Extreme Rules pay-per-view.
The WWE Universe Twitter account captured a photo of the finish and of Cena's celebration in the ring:
Cena was seen posing with the championship belt after the match:
The champ took to Twitter to express his thoughts on his first appearance at Chicago's Allstate Arena:
Both men had hit three of the four corners in this Russian Chain match before realizing they each needed the same corner to win. Cena proceeded to hit Rusev with an Attitude Adjustment and got the win by securing the final corner.
Despite the loss, WrestlingINC.com gave props to Rusev for his efforts:
Cena won the strap from The Bulgarian Brute at WrestleMania, and he quickly established himself as a fighting champion. He defended the belt on several occasions on both Raw and SmackDown, but Rusev continued to lurk as the No. 1 contender.
While Cena wore himself down with matches against eager challengers, Rusev waited in the wings until deciding to attack his adversary with a chain. That led to their bout at Extreme Rules becoming a Russian Chain match. They were bound together by a chain and tasked with touching all four corners of the ring consecutively in order to win.
The odds were seemingly stacked against Cena from a storyline perspective since that style of match was touted as Rusev's specialty. In addition to that, The Super Athlete tormented Cena in the weeks leading up to their clash.
After knocking Cena out with a chain and establishing the stipulation, Rusev made a bold claim:
He wasn't the only one talking trash during the build toward Extreme Rules, though. His manager, Lana, didn't hesitate to get in on the act as well:
Although Rusev fell to Cena on The Grandest Stage of Them All, he had reason to be confident after defeating the leader of the Cenation at the Fastlane pay-per-view in February.
Rusev admittedly needed a distraction from Lana followed by a low blow in order to make Cena pass out via The Accolade, but it was a significant win nonetheless in terms of establishing Rusev as one of WWE's top heels.
With their series of bouts tied at 1-1 entering Extreme Rules, it was tough to determine who might ultimately come out on top in the rubber match.
Picking against Cena is rarely a smart move, considering how much success he has enjoyed over the years. Since he most definitely elevated the profile of the United States Championship, it was conceivable that WWE would want to keep the title around his waist.
At the same time, a big source of Rusev's heat was his status as United States champion, and many argued that having him lose two out of three matches to Cena would destroy the momentum he gained during his first year on the roster.
WWE believes Rusev can rebound, though, as it looks to continue Cena's positive influence on the U.S. title by having him retain. Lana already confirmed the duo will face each other yet again at the Payback PPV:
Keeping the championship with Cena is an exciting decision since it proves that WWE is committed to restoring the prestige of a midcard title, but it must quickly re-establish Rusev as a threat in order to make this rivalry worthwhile.
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