Roman Reigns vs. John Cena and the Best Dream Matches in WWE Since 2000July 2, 2021
Roman Reigns vs. John Cena and the Best Dream Matches in WWE Since 2000
Every pro wrestling fan has fantasized about seeing their favorite Superstars take on legends. It's a fun part of fandom that creates matchups that rarely come to fruition. However, such contests become a reality every now and then.
Over the past decade, WWE has embraced this concept and garnered varying results. For example, it was the premise for AJ Styles' highly anticipated title match against Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleMania 34.
Unfortunately, their showdown didn't quite live up to the hype, which is curious because the two have since had great TV matches together. It was always going to be tough to top their legendary clash at New Japan Pro-Wrestling's Wrestle Kingdom 10, but there was something missing. Honestly, even their Last Man Standing match at Money in the Bank 2018 was better in retrospect.
This wasn't the first encounter that didn't live up to high expectations. After all, we remember how well Sting vs. Triple H at WrestleMania 31 turned out. But it's hard to complain too much because many fantasy matchups such as "Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. CM Punk will never happen.
Nevertheless, WWE has delivered some great moments in the past 20 years, and it seems The Rock vs. Roman Reigns could be the next high-profile bout on the docket. In the meantime, let's take a look at 10 of the best dream matches since 2000.
Brock Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe: WWE Great Balls of Fire
Samoa Joe is one of the most terrifying men in professional wrestling. The Right Hand of Destruction just has an aura about him, and he backs it up with tremendous promo work and top-notch in-ring abilities.
When the former ROH world champion joined WWE, Brock Lesnar was on the top of many fans' lists of potential opponents for Joe. Viewers got their wish in the summer of 2017, when The Samoan Submission Machine entered a feud with the Beast Incarnate.
The consequent segments on Raw were excellent. Joe looked every bit as believable as one would expect as he struck fear in Paul Heyman and nearly choked out Lesnar.
The two faced off for the WWE Universal Championship in the main event of Great Balls of Fire. This match had so much potential based on its build, but it felt like it ended just as it started to kick into second gear. Although the Coquina Clutch came off as a dangerous finisher, this bout could have used a few more minutes to make its mark.
Furthermore, this felt like the right time to put the title on The Destroyer. But there was still enough intrigue around this match to earn it a spot on this list.
The Hardy Boyz vs. The Usos: SmackDown (April 9, 2019)
At WrestleMania 33, The Hardy Boyz made their surprise return to WWE and received the loudest reaction of the night. The iconic team went on to win the Raw tag team titles to kick off their most recent run with the company.
Although Team Extreme had some good matches with The Bar, their title reign was short-lived. Even more, Jeff suffered a torn rotator cuff, which kept him out of action for the remainder of the year. Afterward, he and Matt went on runs as singles competitors on separate brands.
They reunited for a short period in 2019 and challenged The Usos for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship. This first-time match would have made more sense as a major pay-per-view contest because these teams are staples in their respective eras. However, this dream match didn't disappoint.
The twin brothers gave the Hardys everything they had, but it wasn't quite enough. Ultimately, a Twist of Fate and Swanton Bomb found their mark, and the legendary duo became the first team to win the original world, Raw and SmackDown tag titles.
Ric Flair vs. Kurt Angle: WWE Raw (June 27, 2005)
Many fans and peers consider Ric Flair the greatest wrestler of all time. So it was a treat to see the intercontinental champion take on a once-in-a-generation talent in Kurt Angle.
Had the two met in the ring during The Nature Boy's prime, they could have produced a 60-minute classic. Still, their match on the June 27, 2005, episode Raw was worth the price of admission.
An older but spry Flair entered the matchup at 56, but he used his experience and wits to keep the Olympic gold medalist on his toes. Of course, The Dirtiest Player in the Game also dug deep into his bag of tricks, distracting the ref while landing a crafty low blow. He also resorted to biting and a well-placed chop block.
In the end, Angle cleverly reversed an attempt to target his knee into the Ankle Lock to force his opponent to tap out. This TV match is a real hidden gem. If you haven't seen it, it's definitely worth a watch.
Roman Reigns vs. John Cena: No Mercy 2017
In August 2017, John Cena returned to Raw as a free agent to call out Roman Reigns. At the time, The Big Dog had established that the red brand was his yard after he seemingly retired The Undertaker at WrestleMania 33.
Although the second-generation star wasn't the champion, he was the man to beat. In the weeks that followed, The Leader of Cenation eviscerated Reigns with savage promos. But the former Shield member clapped back with some of his best mic work up to that point.
The Superstars collided at No Mercy, where they produced one of the better matches on the card. Interestingly, Cena seemed to be working as the antagonist in this battle between the top guys of their respective eras.
Their 22-minute match was filled with near-falls and a copious amount of finishing maneuvers. But Reigns managed to overcome the 16-time world champion, who became the latest star to endorse Reigns that year. It may not have had the desired effect then, but the self-proclaimed Head of the Table is doing just fine today.
The Rock vs. Booker T: SummerSlam 2001
Let's face it: The Invasion angle was largely disappointing. However, The Rock vs. Booker T was one of the few dream matches that came out of it that lived up to the hype.
During the Monday Night War, the two stars were constantly linked because of their similar look and finishing moves. While The People's Champion was still on a hiatus following WrestleMania X-Seven, the WCW champion debuted in WWE as the in-ring leader of The Alliance.
This set him on a collision course with The Great One when he returned in July. It seemed like The Rock was going to reignite his feud with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin as his eyes were on the WWE Championship. However, Booker T confronted him instead, setting up their match at SummerSlam.
Kurt Angle vs. Austin was a tough act to follow, but the WCW Championship match was an excellent main event. The Brahma Bull and Booker are still the only two Black men to headline a WWE pay-per-view event.
Surprisingly, Booker looked like he had The Rock beat toward the end, but he stopped to showboat. After he performed the Spinaroonie, the challenger leaped to his feet and planted him with a Rock Bottom to become the new champion. It was a memorable finish and a strong showing from both men.
Charlotte Flair vs. Trish Stratus: SummerSlam 2019
In July 2019, Charlotte Flair sought to find a place on the SummerSlam card and stake her claim as the greatest female Superstar of all time.
As such, she challenged WWE Hall of Famer Trish Stratus to a match at The Biggest Party of the Summer. The Canadian reluctantly accepted after the Queen continued to goad, pitting the faces of their respective generations against each other in Stratus' hometown, Toronto.
Their dream encounter was much better than expected. In fact, it was probably the best match of the night. Stratus proved she could hang with the The Queen of All Eras, who had a size and strength advantage.
The seven-time women's champion even tried to cinch in a Figure Four Leg Lock of her own, but it wasn’t enough. Flair won via submission, but Stratus earned her respect and an emotional standing ovation from the Scotiabank Arena crowd.
AJ Styles vs. John Cena: Money in the Bank 2016
At the 2016 Royal Rumble, AJ Styles finally made his way to WWE after he spent years making a name for himself all over the world. It was surreal.
Then he did the unthinkable. The ultimate indy darling turned heel and attacked the consummate company guy, John Cena, on the May 30 episode of Raw. This payoff to this feud would end up being billed as a "WrestleMania dream match" for Money in the Bank.
Their showdown was as good as you would expect—and better. Each competitor gave everything he had. It was dead even until Cena accidentally knocked out the referee and The Good Brothers interfered to help The Phenomenal One secure the win.
It was a disappointing finish at the time, but it laid the groundwork for a trilogy of incredible matches. Their final match at Royal Rumble is the best of the three, but it all started with this matchup, which no one expected during Styles' first year with WWE.
CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar: SummerSlam 2013
After Paul Heyman betrayed CM Punk at Money in the Bank, The Second City Saint would have to contend with Heyman's most renowned client, Brock Lesnar.
The Beast Incarnate started attacking the Chicago native the night after Payback, and Heyman eventually revealed he was back in his corner. In response, Punk challenged Lesnar to a match at SummerSlam, which was a No Disqualification bout.
This storyline made for a brutal and desperate quest for vengeance at the pay-per-view. Heyman was an ever-present distraction, and The Best in the World took every opportunity to get his hands on him.
One also has to applaud this match because it made what looked like an unbelievable size difference into a compelling grudge match. Lesnar used his superior strength to toss around his opponent like a ragdoll, but Punk tenaciously used his speed and an array of kicks and submission maneuvers to level the playing field.
When that didn't work, he resorted to weapons and a well-time low blow to avoid a chair shot. Just as he locked in the Anaconda Vise, though, his former manager interfered again and cost him the match. It wasn't the finish many were hoping for, but this was the definitive battle of the Heyman guys.
The Rock vs. John Cena: WrestleMania XXVIII
The Rock vs. John Cena at WrestleMania XXVIII was a showdown a year in the making.
The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment acted as the host of The Showcase of the Immortals a year prior. In the process, he butted heads with Cena and ultimately helped The Miz retain the WWE Championship in the main event.
On the following episode of Raw, The Face of WWE challenged The Rock to a match. The Great One accepted and suggested WrestleMania as the destination. The company billed it as a "Once In A Lifetime" encounter, and it certainly had a big-match feel. Let's try not to think about the fact that there was a rematch a year later.
All things considered, it was a great match. Cena had the fight won but made one costly mistake. He tried to win with the People's Elbow, which The Brahma Bull countered to secure the victory.
WWE probably didn't need to revisit this dream match, but their first confrontation was worth the wait at least.
The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan: WrestleMania X8
This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, right? The Rock vs. "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan is the finest example of what a dream match can be. It was lightning in a bottle.
The Icon vs. Icon match was part of the culmination of the feud involving The Great One, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and the NWO. It took a year, but it was the realization of what the Invasion angle could have been—the biggest stars from both companies embroiled in a rivalry ahead of the biggest pay-per-view of the year.
The match hit all the right notes, but what happened afterward is what made it a WrestleMania moment. The crowd was cheering Hogan even though he was a heel. Nevertheless, The People's Champ pinned him to win, and the two displayed a mutual show of respect thereafter.
Then the NWO ambushed their stablemate, and he reverted to the iconic Hulkster character for the first time in several years. The Rock came down to save him to cement his turn, and they celebrated together in what would be the highlight of the night. It was a perfect conclusion to their rivalry.