Last time, we saw John Cena win his first World Championship from JBL at WrestleMania 21. On the same night, Edge won the first ever Money in the Bank ladder match to become the first Mr. Money in the Bank. Cena matched JBL’s title reign and was WWE Champion for 280 days before New Year’s Resolution in 2006. Edge cashed in MITB for his first WWE Championship to end Cena’s title reign. Exactly three weeks later, John Cena got his rematch against Edge.
This was a major turning point for both men. Edge hadn’t actually beaten Cena clean, it was his time to become a rightful WWE Champion in the eyes of all his doubters. Would Cena be able to become a two-time WWE Champion to prove that the first time wasn’t a fluke? Two greats fought it out at the Royal Rumble to prove their worth.
At the Royal Rumble, there was a unique entrance platform set up above the ramp. Smoke and anticipation filled the arena. John Cena enters first on top of the catapult and surreys the crowd. He shoots confetti and streamers all over the arena. Cena is met in the ring with many cheers, but some noticeable boos.
Edge doesn’t need any of the fanfare. He enters with Lita in hand and the WWE Championship around his waist. They embrace and display their passion for each other and the title on the way to the ring. Joey Styles and The King discuss the way Edge won the title as the champ gives the belt a kiss, then to the referee. The question is whether or not his character knew he’d kissed the championship good-bye.
A few short moments later, the bell ring and these two set up in the middle of the ring and lock up to start the match.
Edge gains the advantage in the corner and begins to pound on Cena. He Irish Whips Cena into the opposing corner, but Cena explodes with a Clothesline. Edge steps out for a breather and the two men briefly fight outside, before Cena takes advantage back in the ring. Cena gets dragged face first into the second turnbuckle.
After an Irish Whip reversal, Cena manages to hit a Sidewalk Slam for a two count. Edge gets out of dodge toward Lita on the outside for another breather. John has none of that. He sends Edge face first into the steel steps and chases Edge towards Lita. Edge manages to use Lita as a human shield, Cena balks and Edge catches a cheap shot right to Cena’s head. This backs Cena towards the steel steps and Edge spears Cena into them!
The “Rated-R Superstar” reenters the ring in control as he taunts the crowd chanting for Cena. The count gets to five on the outside when Edge hits a Baseball Slide to send Cena over the barricade and into the people. Unfortunately for Edge, Cena beats the count at nine. That’s okay for Edge because he beats Cena down with knees, a choke and some taunting before a quick Big Boot to the face. Cena gets kicked around; he tries to fight back, but Edge counters with a Spinning Heel Kick for two count.
Edge targets the abdomen of Cena to squeeze the air out of him. Cena escapes with back elbows, before Edge gets a quick Suplex to stop the momentum. Cena tires again to be put down again by a standing dropkick. Lita claps on the apron for Edge, who punches Cena to the outside. Edge follows and whips Cena into the steel steps again; this time it’s shoulder first. The beatdown of Cena on the outside continues for a few moments before he’s rolled back into the ring, and Edge hits a Missile Dropkick from the top rope for a long two count.
Edge tries something else, but Cena starts a flurry of blows to Edge. Cena Irish whips Edge across the ring and is hit with a Flying Lariat for his trouble. Edge carries Cena to the top turnbuckle and sets up for a Superplex. It’s never hit as Cena pushes Edge to the mat in perfect position for a Legdrop from the top. Cena misses the Legdrop, unfortunately. Edge goes for the cover, but luckily for Cena, he gets his foot on the bottom rope. Cena’s leg is hurt.
Edge punches Cena about, before he gets caught and Cena tries for an “FU.” Edge rakes the eyes of Cena to escape and he rolls Cena into a cover with the tights. Cena is able to escape the pin, but Edge hits a Big Boot and ascends to the top rope. Edge tries a Crossbody, but Cena rolls it over into a pin for a near fall. The pace is quickening now. Cena lands Haymakers in the middle of the ring, and ends up in a Sleeperhold from Edge. Edge even locks in the Body Scissors and has full control of Cena in the middle.
Cena suffers through the pain, gets on his stomach and fights his way to his feet, even with Edge on his back. He tries to back him into the corner, but Edge jumps off and sidesteps him into the corner. Edge focuses in and tries for a Spear, but he misses John in the corner. Cena hits a quick DDT in the middle of the ring. Both men are down and the turning point is now.
Cena takes control of the match. Both men get to their feet after a few moments and Cena hits a big Shoulder Tackle, a pair of Clotheslines and a Side Powerbomb that sets up the Five Knuckle Shuffle. It connects and Cena pins, but Lita distracts the ref on the apron. Cena plays likes he’s going to hit Lita as Edge stirs to his feet on the other side of the ring.
Edge runs at Cena, but Cena ducks him. Edge hits Lita to the outside. The champion backs into an “FU” and Cena locks in the “STFU.” Cena pulls back with everything he has and eventually, Edge taps out. John Cena has regained the WWE Championship after only three weeks of Edge’s title reign. Cena’s made his climb again, but Edge now faces the question of if he is to be remembered as a transitional champion.
Fortunately, we know the answer to that question. Neither of these men became transitional champions. Instead, they became two of the most decorated WWE Champions of all time. With two such men, you’d expect this match to be better than it was. Cena was champion for almost 300 days; Edge was red hot at the time and easily could have run with this title reign into Mania 22. WWE obviously had other plans with Triple H and John Cena, but this felt like a slap in the face to Edge given his momentum.
The match was fine and they told a story together, but this was just the beginning for their feud. Their chemistry hadn’t developed just yet. Their rivalry would last for the lion’s share of 2006 with both men trading the title back and forth. Right in the middle would be the infamous ECW One Night Stand with John Cena vs. Rob Van Dam for the WWE Championship.
Unfortunately, Cena would lose the title there and RVD’s title reign would be cut short by troubles outside the ring. However, fate would lead Cena and Edge to enter battle in one of the best matches either man ever had. At the time, a match Cena had never been in and a match Edge had never lost: Tables, Ladders and Chairs at Unforgiven 2006. That’s not until next time.