At the all-too-appropriate setting of WWE Battleground, United States Champion John Cena settled the score with the relentless Kevin Owens, valiantly defending his star-spangled symbol of excellence in an all-out war that pushed both competitors to their limits.
Hours after obliterating Rob Schamberger’s patriotic portrait of The Champ backstage, Owens attempted to create his own twisted masterpiece on the ring’s canvas by humiliating Cena and taking his championship. However, utilizing all of the tools in his arsenal, Cena managed to earn a submission victory over the former NXT Champion.
After absorbing some serious punishment from K.O. in the early goings of this anticipated rubber match, Cena caught Owens with an Attitude Adjustment, a maneuver that somehow only garnered a two-count.
With frustration beginning to set in, Cena attempted to go high-risk, taking the challenger to the top rope for a superplex. Anticipating Cena’s next move, Owens reversed the maneuver, sending The Champ crashing down hard on his left shoulder. Cena reeled following that sickening impact, but this fight was far from finished.
Dazed and visibly pained, Cena evaded a Pop-up Powerbomb from his opportunistic foe and again went for the Attitude Adjustment. However, Owens quickly countered with a superkick and nailed Cena with an Attitude Adjustment of his own.
Then, Owens further punished the grounded champion with an STF. Wincing in agony while locked in his own submission move, Cena crawled to the bottom rope and, just barely, wrapped his hand around it to break the hold. Once free, Cena planted Owens with a tornado DDT.
Pressing the advantage, Cena went for the Springboard Stunner but failed to fully connect with it, leaving him vulnerable to a desperate clothesline from Owens. K.O. once again assumed control of the match until Cena, somehow, hit him with a second Attitude Adjustment.
Owens, unwittingly personifying the “Never Give Up” attitude of his adversary, kicked out of the move once again. With disbelief and no small amount of sweat in his eyes, Cena looked out on the WWE Universe as if to ask, “What do I have to do to keep Kevin Owens down?”
After kicking out of Owens’ signature Pop-up Powerbomb — a move that defeated Cena at WWE Elimination Chamber — Cena pulled his 266-pound foe to the middle rope and executed an aerial Attitude Adjustment.
Somehow, Owens withstood Cena’s most powerful maneuver a third time, and even came close to stealing a victory when he trapped Cena in a surprise roll-up. After the closest of two-counts, Cena cinched up the STF, dragging Owens to the middle of the ring and forcing the brawler to eventually tap out.