It's fitting that John Cena showed up for his United States Championship match with Rusev on Sunday night at WrestleMania 31 sporting his latest T-shirt design, showing off all the incarnations of his career.
It's a career-defining time for Cena as he's finally moving into the role of making others look good instead of pushing his own brand.
But for a guy who for more than a decade has portrayed the ultimate good guy while getting booed by half the crowd, nothing is too hard for Cena to navigate.
Such was the case Sunday, with Cena kicking out at two more than once after failing to land Rusev in the attitude adjustment or the STF.
He did land a leg drop off the top rope on the back of Rusev's neck. (A portion of the crowd that wanted no part of pulling for Cena or Rusev started a "Let's Go Lana" chant for Rusev's valet.)
Rusev landed a martial-arts kick for a two count, but when he charged at Cena in the turnbuckle, Cena countering with a spinning DDT.
The pair then traded blows, with Rusev getting the better of it and screaming "You can't beat me John Cena!" before hitting the challenger with a high knee and a modified power bomb.
But Cena was up to the task, catching Rusev in the STF. Rusev was able to get to the ropes, with Lana throwing her high heels at both of them from the outside.
Rusev regained control and hit Cena with a flying head butt from the top rope. He tried to apply the Accolade, but Cena fought it off then landed a sort of Stone Cold Stunner on Rusev after taking an Irish whip and jumping off the second ring ropes.
But Rusev fought back with another kick, then finally applied the Accolade in the middle of the ring -- the same move Rusev used to make Cena pass out at WWE Fastlane.
This time Cena stayed awake, lifted Rusev up and backed him into the turnbuckle, allowing Cena to reapply the STF.
He released the hold to drag Rusev back into the middle of the ring, but was distracted by Lana, who had come up on the apron. Rusev charged Cena, but Cena sidestepped and Rusev nailed Lana with a shoulder block, allowing Cena to catch a stunned Rusev with the Attitude Adjustment for the win, finally ending Rusev's undefeated run in WWE.
Other WrestleMania results
Seth Rollins wins the WWE Title thanks to Money in the Bank contract
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Triple H defeated Sting
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Ronda Rousey makes a surprise appearance, and gets a piece of the action.
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The Undertaker beats Bray Wyatt
It was an impossible task. Having The Undertaker’s “Streak” end against Brock Lesnar last year only worked if you had a once-in-a-lifetime opponent to replace the Streak’s intrigue.
But that match might be next year with Sting at WrestleMania XXXII, so the Undertaker and Wyatt did the best they could. They had a solid bout, with Wyatt as usual showing off athleticism not fitting his frame and the Undertaker looking better than expected for someone who wrestles once a year.
Wyatt kicked out of one Undertaker tombstone piledriver, but the second one did the trick.
Daniel Bryan wins the Intercontinental Title in a ladder match over former champ Bad News Barrett, Luke Harper, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Stardust and R-Truth
It’s no big secret that some of WWE’s most fervent supporters aren’t happy that former WWE champ Daniel Bryan ended up in the opening match of the evening. But this bout needed some star power. We’ve seen so many crazy things in ladder matches that WWE can’t raise the bar too much higher without risking the wrestlers’ health.
Early in the match, while Bryan was nailing Luke Harper with kicks -- Harper was hung on the “tree of woe” via a ladder -- it was clear that WWE did something right here. The company can’t just rely on high spots for this match anymore with its B-level guys. As Bryan nailed Harper, fans finally had a legitimate rooting interest instead of this just being an attraction. WWE as a result went with a shorter match in which what the wrestlers did do had more of an impact.
Harper made a good early showing, nailing several opponents with a plancha through the second and third ropes, then hitting Ambrose with a powerbomb from the ring to the outside and into a ladder. (Ambrose appeared to hit the back of his head on the ladder, was attended to by WWE’s medical staff and did not reappear in the match.)
Bryan and Ziggler ended up on top of the ladder next to the title belt. They hit each other with countless head butts, and Ziggler finally relented, falling far to the mat so Bryan could retrieve the belt.
Randy Orton pinned Seth Rollins
One of the best parts of the preshow was watching the “New Stooges,” Rollins lackies Mercury and Noble, meeting up backstage with the “Old Stooges,” Pat Patterson and Jerry Brisco. The New Stooges showed their worth early in the match, taking a double DDT from Orton when they tried to interfere, but allowing Rollins to take advantage.
Rollins controlled much of the match, including hitting a backflip from the apron on the second rope. Orton eventually recovered, hitting his signature RKO but only getting a two-count. He set up to “punt” Rollins, but Mercury and Noble recovered and hit the ring. Orton hit an RKO on both of them, but that allowed Rollins to hit the Curb Stomp. Orton matched Rollins by kicking out of the other’s finisher.
Rollins eventually set up a second Curb Stomp, but Orton braced himself when Rollins foot landed on the back of Orton’s neck. Rollins essentially used Orton’s neck as a stair, jumping into the air, but falling down into a massive RKO for the pin.
AJ Lee and Paige beat the Bella Twins
You got the perfect idea of what WWE Divas have to deal with by the sign one gentleman had offering to be the father of Nikki Bella’s children.
In that atmosphere it can be tough to impress with technical ring prowess, but the Bella twins did just fine, hitting Paige with a double slingshot suplex. But Paige kicked out to keep the match going.
Paige was able to get the tag to AJ, who continued the fight even as she was tripped by Brie on the outside, allowing Nikki to nail her with a forearm. Nikki continued the attack, but AJ was able to counter a Nikki offensive into her Black Widow submission move, forcing Nikki to tap out.
Tyson Kidd and Cesaro retained the WWE Tag Team Title by defeating the Usos, Los Matadores and the New Day. Jey Uso left the match early, apparently feigning getting hurt so he could avoid the match since he’s suffering from real-life injury woes. The match was its usual collection of high spots but offered some twists, including the teams’ female seconds getting involved. Naomi hit a plancha on several wrestlers late in the match, while Natalya avenged her loss to Matadores mascot El Torito by putting him in the sharpshooter.
The Big Show won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. The big twist came when Mizdow turned on his employer, The Miz, and eliminated him to square off with The Big Show and almost pulling a massive upset.