John Cena's reign as United States champion was in serious jeopardy Sunday at Battleground, but the leader of the Cenation managed to retain the title in his first defense against Kevin Owens.
WWE provided a photo of the champ:
The WWE Universe provided a few of the many highlights from Owens in this action-packed match:
The champ had a simple message to fans after the win, per WWE Universe:
WrestlingINC.com questioned the ending of the match while WrestlingNewsSource gave Cena props for another fantastic performance:
Cena began his second career run as U.S. champion by defeating Rusev at WrestleMania, and he has done great things with the strap ever since. The United States Championship was a forgotten prize before Cena won it, but that is clearly no longer the case.
The face of WWE has taken on a wide array of challengers over the past few months, and he has put on great matches with the likes of Cesaro, Neville, Sami Zayn and Dean Ambrose, among others. His encounter with Owens at Battleground was one of his best, and it undoubtedly added even more prestige to the U.S. title.
In addition to being United States champion, Cena has been embroiled in a feud with Owens since before the Elimination Chamber event. They entered Battleground having each won a match against each other, but the focus changed with Cena's title being thrown into the fray.
KO, who dropped the NXT Championship to Finn Balor at Beast in the East, made it his obsession to take the championship away from Cena. According to WWE Network, however, Cena was unwilling to go down without a fight:
Owens has been so enamored with beating Cena for the title that he prevented others from doing so on multiple occasions. He also made several attempts to face Cena for the belt in the weeks leading up to Battleground, but he was always cut off at the pass.
The most recent example occurred on the go-home episode of Raw when he was forced to go up against Cesaro and Rusev in a Triple Threat match with the title on the line. As seen in this GIF courtesy of WWE Universe, though, Owens thought better of it and decided to save himself for the pay-per-view:
Rusev won what turned out to be a great match. Even though Cena has had his issues with Owens, Cesaro and Rusev, even he couldn't help but applaud their effort:
The Bulgarian Brute had Cena in a precarious position during their U.S. title match, as he had him locked in the Accolade, but Owens interfered to prevent Rusev from getting the win. That solidified the fact that Owens' match with Cena at Battleground would still be a United States Championship bout.
Despite Owens' best efforts to ensure that he would take the now-elevated title away from Cena, he simply couldn't get the job done Sunday.
While it's possible that Owens' feud with Cena could be over, SummerSlam is coming up in August, and it wouldn't be at all surprising to see them do battle for the gold one more time.
Owens and Cena have yet to disappoint from an in-ring perspective, and if the Canadian Superstar is able to take the United States Championship from Cena at SummerSlam, then that could be the signature moment he needs to ascend to top-heel status in WWE.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.