3 Times John Cena allegedly didn’t want to lose in WWE and 2 times he did
John Cena is widely regarded as the greatest WWE Superstar of his generation. A 16-time World Champion, he main-evented WrestleMania five times and worked as WWE’s top babyface for over a decade.
Given Cena’s level of stardom, it is only natural that he has more influence in his match finishes than the majority of WWE Superstars.
According to Cagematch.net, Cena has competed in 723 televised matches throughout his WWE career. He won 486 (67.2%) of those matches, while he lost 205 (28.4%) and drew 32 (4.4%).
— WWE (@WWE) August 22, 2021
Although John Cena has occasionally wanted certain WWE opponents to defeat him, he has also reportedly used his backstage power to prevent himself from losing.
In this article, we take a look at three times Cena did not want to lose, as well as two times he was happy to take a defeat.
#5 John Cena didn’t want to lose against The Rock (WrestleMania 28)
— WWE (@WWE) April 1, 2019
Former WWE referee Mike Chioda revealed in August 2021 that John Cena was “sourpussed” about losing to Dwayne “The Rock” at WrestleMania 28.
WWE started advertising the “Once in a Lifetime” encounter between the two megastars in 2011, an entire year before the match took place.
Speaking on Such Good Shoot, Chioda said Cena felt he should have won his first one-on-one match against the WWE Superstar-turned-Hollywood movie star.
“I had that first one, and I was wondering who the f*** was gonna go over [win]. Cena had been running the road for 10 years. Rock’s been in f***ing Hollywood, and then all of a sudden it’s like, ‘John, you’ve gotta do the job [lose].’ It was in Miami. I said, ‘Damn, I can’t believe they gave it to The Rock.’ I love The Rock, don’t get me wrong. I felt bad for Cena because I knew he was sourpussed about it. He busted his a** for a decade,” Chioda said.
Despite WWE marketing John Cena vs. The Rock as “Once in a Lifetime,” the two men also went head-to-head in the WrestleMania 29 main event.
On that occasion, Cena defeated his long-term rival to win the WWE Championship. However, the match is best remembered for The Rock tearing his abdominal and abductor muscles and suffering a hernia.
#4 John Cena wanted to lose against Shinsuke Nakamura (WWE SmackDown)
— WWE (@WWE) August 2, 2017
According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, John Cena wanted to lose clean against Shinsuke Nakamura on the August 1, 2017 episode of WWE SmackDown.
Nakamura defeated Cena to become the new number one contender for Jinder Mahal’s WWE Championship ahead of SummerSlam 2017. While WWE’s higher-ups always intended for Nakamura to win, the Japanese star was originally supposed to pick up the victory following interference from Baron Corbin.
However, as the GiveMeSport report below states, Cena allegedly stepped in and asked if the match finish could be changed.
“According to a report from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, it was Cena himself who disliked the original plan, and then pushed for Nakamura to pick up the clean win.”
— WWE (@WWE) August 2, 2017
Unfortunately, the John Cena vs. Shinsuke Nakamura dream match did not go exactly as planned. Nakamura dropped Cena on his head in the closing stages of the match, causing him to receive backlash when he returned backstage.
The King of Strong Style revealed in an interview with Gorilla Position in 2018 that he thought his WWE career was “finished” after the mistake.
Nakamura went on to lose against Jinder Mahal at SummerSlam, while Cena defeated Baron Corbin at the same event.
#3 John Cena didn’t want to lose against Jack Swagger (WWE MITB cash-in)
The John Cena vs. Jack Swagger dispute was less about Cena winning and more about him not wanting to lose.
In 2020, AEW’s Jake Hager (f.k.a. Jack Swagger in WWE) reflected on his Money in the Bank cash-in on Chris Jericho in 2010.
He recalled on Talk Is Jericho that he teased cashing in on then-WWE Champion John Cena. However, due to Cena’s reluctance to lose, he cashed in on Jericho to win the World Heavyweight Championship instead.
“I had a little inclination, but I had no idea what was going to happen. The night before, I teased it on RAW. I hit Cena with the briefcase, I snuck up on him when he had one of his brilliant promo segments [said sarcastically]. Later, come to find out, he refused to do the job [lose] for me for the [WWE] Championship. We won’t talk about that. Ugh. ‘The most unselfish top man in the business,’” Hager said. [H/T talkSPORT]
— WWE (@WWE) June 7, 2016
John Cena faced Jake Hager’s Jack Swagger character in five singles matches during their time together in WWE. Cena won all five encounters, including a No Holds Barred match on the May 16, 2011 episode of RAW.
#2 John Cena wanted to lose against The Fiend (WrestleMania 36)
— WWE (@WWE) April 6, 2020
In 2020, The Fiend Bray Wyatt defeated John Cena in a cinematic Firefly Fun House match at WrestleMania 36. Shane McMahon, who did not compete at that year’s event, helped out behind the scenes with the production of the unique match.
McMahon appeared on Corey Graves’ After The Bell podcast in September 2020. Discussing the Firefly Fun House match, he praised Cena for unselfishly going out of his way to make Wyatt look good.
“So it set up the potential of anytime The Fiend wants to have a match like this, it could be this trippy, completely different, go anywhere down a wormhole. So that was the intent of it, kudos to John Cena for thinking outside the box, an immense amount of that was really, really pushed by him. John wanted Bray to do very well with it, and had it be a showcase for him. Very unselfish,” McMahon said.
— WWE (@WWE) April 6, 2020
Speaking to Den of Geek in 2021, Cena said nobody knew what a Firefly Fun House match was when he arrived at the WrestleMania taping. He added that the uncertainty would cause panic for most performers, but he felt “riveted by the open field to create something special.”
#1 John Cena didn’t want to lose against The Nexus (WWE SummerSlam 2010)
Did John Cena bury the nexus? pic.twitter.com/klcYHRkUAV
— Bonafide Heat (@BonafideHeat) January 3, 2021
The event was originally supposed to finish with The Nexus defeating a team of WWE all-stars. However, Cena allegedly pitched a different idea shortly before the show which led to him emerging as the sole survivor of the seven-on-seven elimination match.
Former Nexus member Heath Slater spoke about the last-minute change in a Q&A with Pro Wrestling Junkies in 2020. He said Chris Jericho and Edge came up with the original finish before Cena changed it on the day of the event.
“I’ll tell you this much. I’ve had so many people ask me that over the years. Honestly, I’m not sure if it’s 100 percent fact [John Cena being responsible for ending The Nexus’ push], but I could comfortably say it’s a 95 percent fact. The whole time we were there, we were going over. We were playing to win.
“Edge and Jericho basically came up with that whole match. They planned it all out and had where it was, how it should be, where I think the last one left was Wade [Barrett]. And then the next thing you know, four hours later, it was just not happening that way,” Slater said. [H/T Wrestling Inc.]
John Cena ended up in a two-on-one situation in the closing stages of the 35-minute match. In the final minute, he pinned Justin Gabriel before making Nexus leader Wade Barrett submit to his STF submission move.
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