John Cena may be enjoying his biggest year outside the WWE as an entertainer, but the face of professional wrestling for the last decade is currently in the middle of a long title drought. Cena, who just lost cleanly in an epic match against AJ Styles at SummerSlam, last held a title belt of any kind in 2015, before Alberto Del Rio returned and took his United States Championship. Cena’s last major championship run came more than two years ago, and he’s been stuck as a 15-time world champion ever since. Here’s who WWE has elevated above Cena since then.
Brock Lesnar (SummerSlam 2014)
Just a few months after conquering The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXX, Lesnar eviscerated Cena at SummerSlam in what was essentially a drawn-out squash match. Lesnar delivered 16 German suplexes to Cena, and Cena never had a chance.
Seth Rollins (WrestleMania 31)
WWE delivered one of the best finishes in WrestleMania history back in 2015, as Seth Rollins stunned the crowd by sprinting to the ring to turn a Brock Lesnar-Roman Reigns main event into a triple threat, then pinning Reigns to steal away Lesnar’s title. Rollins held the title until a devastating knee injury forced him to vacate it.
Roman Reigns (Survivor Series 2015)
He held the title for just a few minutes before…
Sheamus (Survivor Series 2015)
WWE was in a very tough spot at the end of 2015, as much of the roster had been decimated by a string of injuries. Sheamus cashed in his Money In The Bank contract on Reigns, then dropped the belt back to Reigns less than a month later on Raw.
Triple H (Royal Rumble 2016)
WWE switched up the formula in the Royal Rumble, and forced Reigns to be the first entrant in the match and defend his title, meaning whoever won the Rumble would be the WWE Champion. Reigns lasted an hour, but Triple H emerged as the 30th entrant and won the belt.
Roman Reigns (WrestleMania 32)
The Authority then ruled until this year’s WrestleMania, where Reigns speared Stephanie McMahon and eventually beat Triple H to regain the WWE title.
Seth Rollins (Money In The Bank 2016)
Former The Shield teammates Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins faced in the main event at Money In The Bank, and Rollins was the favorite to take the belt having just returned from his knee injury. That happened, but only for a few seconds.
Dean Ambrose (Money In The Bank 2016)
Ambrose, who won the ladder match earlier in the show, cashed in his contract and won the WWE Championship for the first time in his career.
Finn Balor (SummerSlam 2016)
Following the brand split, WWE introduced a new world title for Raw called the Universal Championship, which was won by Finn Balor on his pay-per-view debut. Sadly, a severe shoulder injury suffered during the match meant that Balor would only hold the title for a single day.
Kevin Owens (Raw)
Owens won the vacant Universal Championship this week on Raw, beating Rollins, Reigns and Big Cass in a Fatal Four Way elimination match.