At WWE Battleground, United States Champion John Cena and NXT Champion Kevin Owens go head-to-head for the third time. Not only will one winner emerge to break their 1-1 tally, but that same competitor will also lay claim to WWE’s United States Championship.
The contentious rivalry between the two Superstars began when Kevin Owens answered John Cena’s U.S. Open Challenge on the May 18 edition of Monday Night Raw. Through his blatant disrespect of the championship (Owens put his foot atop the title on more than one occasion), the WWE newcomer made it known that his interest was in teaching the Cenation leader a very personal lesson. He did so at WWE Elimination Chamber, when he shockingly defeated Cena in one of the biggest upsets in WWE history.
Cena rebounded at WWE Money in the Bank, where he achieved redemption against Owens in another non-title affair. Following the match, Cena attempted to offer complimentary words to a frustrated Owens, who responded by hitting The Champ with a devastating Pop-up Powerbomb onto the ring apron. Cena suffered lower back contusions and severe muscle spasms as a result of Owens’ heinous attack. The brash NXT Champion followed that act by assaulting guest star Machine Gun Kelly the next night on Raw.
In a WWE.com interview with Michael Cole, Owens stated that he believes his months of dominance in NXT have been downplayed since his debut on Raw. The reigning NXT Champion looks to take that dominance a step further by tasting his first championship as a member of the WWE roster. Owens has already proven his in-ring prowess with victories over Dolph Ziggler and Cesaro, in addition to Cena, in recent weeks. Even in his sole loss, he put on a performance that indicates he will not go down without a fight.
John Cena has brought honor to the United States Championship since winning it from Rusev at WrestleMania 31. Not only has he valiantly hosted his open challenge on a weekly basis, but he has also made clear his feelings about Owens’ disrespect for the title and the entire WWE Universe. Cena will no doubt be looking for retribution for Owens’ attacks on himself and MGK, who has been a friend of the Cenation leader since performing during his entrance at WrestleMania 28.
Who will emerge from this highly personal rubber match as United States Champion? Find out at WWE Battleground, live on the award-winning WWE Network Sunday, July 19 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.
John Cena accepted Kevin Owens’ challenge for the U.S. Title
As yet another self-styled king might say, it’s on like a pot of neckbones. Kevin Owens called out John Cena for a U.S. Title Match and took out Machine Gun Kelly as a warning shot. The Champ responded in his first Raw in two weeks by addressing the NXT Champion’s challenge for the Stars and Bars at WWE Battleground on July 19. Owens’ game of verbal one-upmanship continued when he mockingly responded to the Cenation leader in French, but Cena spat fire in French and Chinese in return. The long and short of it? Cena accepted the challenge, told Owens to put up, shut up and settle their differences at Battleground. After all, these colors don’t run.
John Cena def. Kevin Owens
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Kevin Owens stunned John Cena at Elimination Chamber. Two weeks after the biggest win of his career, Owens couldn’t topple the United States Champion again at Money in the Bank 2015, but he still stunned Cena and the WWE Universe.
When Owens first walked into a WWE ring in May 2015, he sent a loud message, leaving Cena out on the mat. Defeating Cena at Elimination Chamber only vindicated the NXT Champion’s 15-year journey from the indies to WWE. Yet with Owens’ sights set on “exposing the lie” behind Cena, the U.S. Champion fought to prove “Never Give Up” was more than a slogan to sell neon-colored T-shirts.
Before Money in the Bank started, a confident Owens told Tom Phillips, “I don’t have any fear. I beat Cena at Elimination Chamber, and I’m going to do the exact same thing tonight.” Owens rode that confidence to the ring, smirking while the raucous crowd chanted “Fight Owens Fight!”
Even as Cena took control in the opening moments, the prize fighter’s hubris never wavered, commenting mid-match on Cena’s tough early attack: “How’d that work out for you last time?”
Owens backed up his trash talk further by hitting Cena’s signature combination — a pair of shoulder blocks, side slam and 5-Knuckle Shuffle. Cena wouldn’t stay down, though. He battled through Owens’ hard-hitting punches and slam with resiliency that would have made any fan of the hometown Blue Jackets smile.
When Cena hoisted Owens into position for an Attitude Adjustment, adding a “You can’t see me” taunt for good measure, it seemed academic. Then Owens powered out of the pinfall at a late two, and the Cenation leader nearly unraveled.
The unthinkable happened when NXT Champion Kevin Owens defeated John Cena at WWE Elimination Chamber. At Money in the Bank 2015, The Champ will get the opportunity to redeem himself when he faces Owens in a highly-anticipated rematch.
Though Owens has only been in WWE since December, he has made the most of the past six months. He debuted in impressive fashion at NXT TakeOver: R Evolution, only to bulldoze his longtime friend Sami Zayn. Two months to the day after, he destroyed Zayn to capture the NXT Championship, then pummeled Zayn into the canvas in their rematch at TakeOver: Unstoppable.
In the midst of all that, Owens made his way up to the main roster and stepped up to the biggest dog in the yard, flooring Cena with his devastating Pop-up Powerbomb on several occasions.
For his brash display of aggression, The Authority rewarded the NXT Champion with a one-on-one bout against Cena at Elimination Chamber. And though Owens had never stepped in the ring with a competitor like John Cena, the NXT Champion showed no nervousness in the ring, answering everything Cena threw at him. Kevin Owens shocked the world when he drove The Champ into the canvas with the Pop-up Powerbomb to pick up the biggest win of his 15-year career.
See photos from their first encounter
As cameras broadcast the shocked reactions of the Cenation live to the world, Owens stood in the ring and followed up on his career-making victory with a bold statement: “It’s time for John Cena to go.”
Can Owens prove that his victory at Elimination Chamber was no fluke, or will Cena make the NXT Champion eat his words? Find out at Money in the Bank, live Sunday, June 14, on the award-winning WWE Network!
John Cena wins the ladder match and becomes Mr. MITB on July 15th, 2012.
NXT Champion Kevin Owens confronted U.S. Champion John Cena
NEW ORLEANS — The NXT Champ is here, and even though he opted out of an impromptu fight last week with John Cena, that didn’t stop Kevin Owens from resuming his verbal takedown of the Cenation leader during Raw’s opening moments. Yet again, The Champ offered Owens the chance to put his money where his mouth was, and yet again, he said he’d pass until bell time at Money in the Bank.
Watch Kevin Owens get in Cena’s face again
Despite refusing Cena’s challenge, Owenswasin the mood for a fight. After butting heads for a few moments, the two champions decided the mood was right for an open challenge of some point, and whomever answered would have his pick of title bout. Enter Neville, who swooped in with a second NXT Title reign on his mind.
U.S. Champion John Cena confronted NXT Champion Kevin Owens
If the WWE Universe at large didn’t know who Kevin Owens was before, they certainly do now after the NXT Champion did the near-unthinkable by pinning John Cena in his first match in a WWE ring. Owens’ enthusiasm over his star-making victory wasn’t even hampered by the news of an impending rematch against The Champ. If anything, he found his second wind, vowing to defeat Cena, whom his son idolizes, to expose him as a false role model. Cena took exception to the NXT Champion’s fighting words to the point of daring him to an on-the-spot throwdown. Despite being visibly riled by The Champ, Owens declined this time around, choosing instead to meet Cena on his terms (and potentially save his energy for an NXT Championship Open Challenge on SmackDown). You can’t blame him, considering the strategy has worked so far. Wait, Owens. Wait.
Watch: Cena brings a special guest to the ring