A new era begins at WrestleMania 21 with John Cena leading the WWE.
At No Way Out 2004, John Cena earned a WWE Championship opportunity after defeating Kurt Angle in the tournament finals. WWE Champion JBL retained the championship against Big Show at the same event in a barbed wire steel cage match. On the following Smackdown, Cena ruined a celebration held by JBL and his Cabinet by hitting JBL over the head with a portrait of himself.
JBL cost John Cena the United States Championship by hitting Cena with the World Championship and allowing Orlando Jordan to steal the title. JBL destroyed Cena’s customized WWE United States Championship and replaced the title with the original design. Cena sought revenge, but Smackdown General Manager Teddy Long stopped Cena and revealed that Cena had to wait for WrestleMania 21 to put his hands on JBL. Long warned Cena that if Cena broke the rule, then Cena would lose his championship match. Cena responded by hitting an F-U on Long.
Thus, Cena attempted to provoke JBL into striking him by vandalizing JBL’s limo, cutting his tie in half, dumping water into JBL’s hat, and spray painting JBL’s shirt. However, JBL refused to cause a physical confrontation. Instead, JBL pressed charges on Cena for vandalizing his limo, and while Cena was handcuffed, JBL delivered a low blow and taunted Cena.
JBL backs Cena into a corner and gets a headlock for early control. Cena sends JBL into the ropes, only to be met with a shoulder block. Cena responds with a shoulder block but runs into a big boot in the corner. JBL charges toward Cena to connect with a shoulder block of his own, followed by several punches. Cena tries for a backdrop, but JBL delivers an overhand strike to the back. JBL knee lifts Cena in the corner, followed by a kick to the midsection. JBL continues to control the match with two swinging neckbreakers leading to a near fall.
Bradshaw chokes Cena under the top rope and between the ropes but can’t win the match that way. JBL catapults Cena into the middle rope throat, first silencing the crowd with his dominant offense. Then, they trade punches until Cena gets the advantage and boots JBL in the corner. Cena comes off the ropes but is met with a spinebuster by JBL for a two-count. Next, JBL drives Cena down to the mat with an arm-trapped neckbreaker.
JBL casually stomps Cena, but Cena responds with punches. Bradshaw sends Cena into the corner, and JBL connects with a running clothesline. JBL decks Cena with a short arm clothesline, but Cena gets his boot on the bottom rope to stop the pin at two. Bradshaw delivers a forearm shot to Cena’s lower back and locks in a sleeper hold. Cena breaks free from the grip with a back suplex, and both men remain on the mat. They reach their feet, and JBL sends Cena through the ropes to the floor. While on the floor, JBL delivers another swinging neckbreaker and gets a two-count upon entering the ring.
JBL sits Cena on the top rope and delivers a chop followed by punches causing Cena to drop to the floor nearly. Bradshaw hooks Cena and connects with a superplex managing a two-count on the cover. JBL heads to the top rope but is powerslammed in midair. Cena elbows JBL and trades strikes until Cena decks JBL with clotheslines. John backdrops JBL followed by a shoulder block and hip toss. Cena plants JBL with a side slam and taunts JBL before hitting the Five Knuckle Shuffle. JBL stops Cena with a boot in the corner but misses the Clothesline From Hell. Cena takes advantage, hitting the F-U, and pins JBL to win his first WWE Championship.
The feud between John Cena and JBL continued to the May pay-per-view Judgment Day where Cena retained the championship in an I Quit match. After Judgement Day, Cena continued his career on the RAW brand feuding with Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle. Meanwhile, JBL remained on Smackdown and feuded with WWE World Champion Batista. JBL won a match at The Great American Bash by disqualification before losing to Batista at SummerSlam 2005 in a no holds barred match.
WrestleMania 39 takes place on April 1st and April 2nd on Peacock at 8 PM ET.