John Cena

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John Cena
John Cena July 2018.jpg
Cena in July 2018
John Felix Anthony Cena

(1977-04-23) April 23, 1977 (age 45)[1]
  • Professional wrestler
  • actor
  • rapper
Years active1999–present
Elizabeth Huberdeau
(m. 2009; div. 2012)

Shay Shariatzadeh
(m. 2020)
Ring name(s)John Cena[2]
Juan Cena[3]
The Prototype[4]
Mr. P[5]
Billed height6 ft 1 in (185 cm)[1]
Billed weight251 lb (114 kg)[1]
Billed from"Classified"[6]
West Newbury, Massachusetts[1]
Los Angeles, California
"West Newbarnia, Mexico" (as Juan Cena)
Trained byChristopher Daniels[7]
Mike Bell
Tom Howard
Dave Finlay
DebutNovember 5, 1999[7]

John Felix Anthony Cena (/ˈsnə/ SEE-nə; born April 23, 1977) is an American professional wrestler, actor, and former rapper, currently signed to WWE. Widely regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time, he is tied with Ric Flair for the most world championship reigns in professional wrestling history.[a]

Born in West Newbury, Massachusetts, Cena moved to California in 1998 to pursue a career as a bodybuilder. He switched to professional wrestling in 1999 when he debuted for Ultimate Pro Wrestling. He signed with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE) in 2001, where he was assigned to Ohio Valley Wrestling. After moving to WWE's SmackDown roster in 2002, Cena gained fame and success after adopting the persona of a trash-talking rapper. He won his first singles title, the United States Championship, in 2004. The next year, he won the WWE Championship, and his character changed into a clean-cut hero. He led the company as its franchise player and public face for the next decade.

A joint-record 16-time world champion, Cena has won the WWE Championship 13 times, a record for the title. He is also a five-time US Champion, a four-time world tag team champion, a two-time Royal Rumble match winner, a one-time Money in the Bank match winner, and has headlined multiple major WWE pay-per-view events, including its flagship event, WrestleMania, five times. His professional wrestling career has been met with mixed critical and audience reception, with praise for his character work and promotional skills, but criticism for his perceived over-representation and on-screen placement relative to other wrestlers.

Cena first starred in The Marine (2006), and gained praise for his performances in Trainwreck (2015), Ferdinand (2017), Blockers, and Bumblebee (both 2018). He starred in F9 and portrayed Peacemaker in The Suicide Squad (both 2021) and the eponymous television series. His debut studio album, You Can't See Me (2005), was certified platinum. Outside his work in entertainment, Cena is known for his involvement in numerous charitable causes, namely with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, where he has granted the most wishes at over 650.

Early life

John Felix Anthony Cena[8] was born in West Newbury, Massachusetts, on April 23, 1977,[9] to Carol (née Lupien) and John Cena Sr.[10] His mother is of English and French-Canadian descent, while his father has Italian ancestry.[11] His maternal grandfather was baseball player Tony Lupien.[12][13][14] He has an older brother named Stephen, and three younger brothers named Dan, Matt and Sean.[15] Cena is a cousin of computer scientist Natalie Enright Jerger. Raised Roman Catholic, he attended Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, Massachusetts, before transferring to Cushing Academy, a private prep boarding school in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. He then attended Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts,[16] where he was an NCAA Division III All-American center on their college football team.[17] He wore the number 54,[16] which is still used on some of his WWE merchandise. Cena graduated from Springfield College in 1999 with a degree in exercise physiology and body movement,[18][19] after which he pursued a career in bodybuilding[20][21] and worked as a limousine driver.[22]

Professional wrestling career

Ultimate Pro Wrestling (1999–2001)

Cena began training to become a professional wrestler in 1999 at Ultimate Pro Wrestling's (UPW) California-based Ultimate University operated by Rick Bassman. Once he was placed into an in-ring role, Cena began using a semi-robotic character known as The Prototype.[4][23] Some of this period of his career was documented in the Discovery Channel program Inside Pro Wrestling School.[citation needed] He held the UPW Heavyweight Championship for 27 days in April 2000,[24] and wrestled for the UPW until March 2001.[25]

Word Wrestling Federation / World Wrestling Entertainment / WWE

Early appearances (2000–2001)

On October 10, 2000, while billed as The Prototype, Cena made his unofficial debut for then World Wrestling Federation (WWF) on a SmackDown taping in a dark match against Mikey Richardson, in which he lost.[26] He received another tryout on January 9, 2001, at a SmackDown taping in Oakland, California, this time defeating Aaron Aguilera wrestling again in a dark match at a SmackDown taping on March 13.[clarification needed]

Signing and Ohio Valley Wrestling (2001–2002)

In 2001, Cena signed a developmental contract with the WWF and was assigned to its developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW).[27] During his time there, Cena wrestled under the ring name The Prototype and held the OVW Heavyweight Championship for three months and the OVW Southern Tag Team Championship (with Rico Constantino) for two months.[28][29] Throughout 2001, he received four tryouts for the main roster, as he wrestled multiple enhancement talent wrestlers on both WWF house shows and in dark matches before WWF televised events.

Throughout the early months of 2002, Cena constantly found himself competing on house shows for the WWF, where he wrestled against the likes of Shelton Benjamin and Tommy Dreamer. After his main call up in June 2002, he continued to appear on OVW programming until September 25, when he lost to Kenny Brolin in a Loser Leaves OVW match. He would later appear in a one-off appearance for the developmental farm in November under the ring name Mr. P in a six-man tag team match, where he teamed with Hall of Famer Big Boss Man and Charlie Haas, in a winning effort against Lance Cade, Trevor Murdoch and Sean O'Haire.

Cena's call-up to the main roster meant that he was part of OVW's now legendary Class of 2002, alongside Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton and Batista, a class which would eventually become known as the "OVW 4".[30]

The Doctor of Thuganomics (2002–2004)

On the June 24 episode of Raw, Vince McMahon ordered the entire roster to the ring and declared he needed them to all find some "ruthless aggression" from within themselves and that he was looking for one of them to stand out from the rest.[31] Cena made his WWE television debut on June 27 on an episode of SmackDown by answering an open challenge by Kurt Angle. After declaring he possessed "ruthless aggression", he lost by a pinning combination, but managed to put on a good showing.[32] After the match, he was congratulated by Billy Kidman, Faarooq, Rikishi, and The Undertaker.[citation needed] Following the near-win, Cena became a fan favorite and began feuding with Chris Jericho, defeating him at Vengeance.[32] Then, Cena feuded with Los Guerreros (Chavo and Eddie Guerrero) and picked up a victory over Chavo Guerrero on the September 7 episode of Velocity.[citation needed] On the September 12 episode of SmackDown, Cena teamed with Edge in a losing effort against Los Guerreros, thus ending the feud in the process.[citation needed] He later went on to defeat the likes of Albert and D-Von Dudley as he was restricted to appearances on Velocity for the rest of September.[citation needed]

In October, Cena and Billy Kidman took part in a tag team tournament to crown the first WWE Tag Team Champions of the SmackDown brand, in which he lost to the first round of the match.[citation needed] The next week on SmackDown, Cena turned on and attacked Kidman, blaming him for their loss, turning heel for the first and only time in his WWE career.[32] On the October 17 episode of SmackDown, Cena defeated Kidman in a singles contest,[citation needed] but was ultimately defeated by Kidman in a rematch on the October 24 episode of SmackDown.[citation needed]

On the 2002 Halloween-themed episode of SmackDown, Cena dressed as Vanilla Ice and performed a freestyle rap.[32] The following week on SmackDown, Cena received a new character: a rapper who cut promos while rhyming.[32] Shortly after, he took on the nickname The Doctor of Thuganomics and expanded his gimmick to include rapping before his matches. He began wearing hats and sports jerseys as part of his ring gear.[33] In a 2020 documentary on the WWE Network focusing on this period, Cena revealed that at the time, the gimmick change to The Doctor of Thuganomics saved his career. Before this, the WWE was planning to release Cena as the "ruthless aggression" gimmick wasn't impressive enough. On a bus journey with other WWE superstars, Cena got involved in a freestyle rap session with Rikishi and Rey Mysterio, impressing Stephanie McMahon, leading to the gimmick's adoption.[34] As the character evolved, Cena began adopting a variant of the 1980s WWF logo—dropping the "F"—as his "signature symbol", along with the slogan "Word Life". At Rebellion, he teamed up with Dawn Marie in a losing effort against Kidman and Torrie Wilson in a mixed tag team match.[35][36]

Cena was eventually joined by an enforcer, Bull Buchanan, who was rechristened to B-2 (also written B² and pronounced "B-Squared").[citation needed] B-2 helped Cena kick off 2003 with a win over Rikishi on the January 2 episode of SmackDown and a win over Chavo Guerrero on the January 9 episode of SmackDown.[citation needed] Both Cena and B-2 participated in the Royal Rumble match, but were unsuccessful in their attempts.[37] Cena and B-2 failed to capture the WWE Tag Team Championship from Los Guerreros, resulting in Cena replacing B-2 with Red Dogg until Red Dogg was sent to the Raw brand in February.[32]

For the first half of 2003, Cena sought the WWE Championship and chased the reigning champion Brock Lesnar after WrestleMania XIX, gaining upset wins over Eddie Guerrero, The Undertaker and Chris Benoit, who mocked Cena by wearing a "Toothless Aggression" shirt.[citation needed] He later won a number one contender's tournament for the right to face off against Lesnar for the WWE Championship at Backlash but was unsuccessful in his attempt.[38] After Backlash, Cena started to feud with Rhyno and Benoit, leading to Cena, along with Chuck Palumbo and Johnny Stamboli, defeating the team of Spanky, Rhyno and Benoit at Judgment Day.[39] Shortly after this, Cena began mocking The Undertaker, leading to a match at Vengeance, where he lost a singles match.[32][40] but won a rematch on the August 7 episode of SmackDown, this time with assistance from A-Train. The feud came to an end on the August 21 episode of SmackDown, when Cena and A-Train defeated Undertaker and Orlando Jordan in a tag team match. Cena then pursued the United States Championship, but lost to champion Eddie Guerrero in a Latino Street Fight for the title on the September 11 episode of SmackDown.[41]

Cena with his customized United States Championship belt in January 2005

After losing to Kurt Angle at No Mercy,[42] Cena became a fan-favorite when he joined Angle as a member of his team at the 2003 Survivor Series, where Cena and Chris Benoit were the survivors.[43] Cena and Benoit joined forces as a makeshift tag team, but on the November 27 episode of SmackDown!, both men participated in a 20-man battle royal to earn a WWE Championship match. Cena and Benoit were the final two men remaining and eliminated each other at the same time, leading to the two being declared joint winners.[44] However, Benoit defeated Cena the following week on SmackDown! to earn a WWE Championship match against Lesnar the same night.[45]

United States champion (2004–2005)

In early 2004, Cena participated in the Royal Rumble match at the Royal Rumble, making it to the final six before being eliminated by Big Show.[46] Chris Benoit was the eventual winner of the match.[47] This led to a feud with Big Show.[citation needed] At No Way Out, Cena faced Big Show and Kurt Angle in a triple threat match for a WWE Championship match at WrestleMania XX, which Cena lost by submission to Angle.[48] Cena won his first singles championship in WWE, the United States Championship from Big Show at WrestleMania. He held the title for four months with successful defenses against the likes of Rene Dupree, Rob Van Dam and Booker T, until he was stripped of the title on the July 8 episode of SmackDown by Angle, SmackDown General Manager) after he accidentally attacked him in Angle's wheelchair.[citation needed] Cena won the championship back by defeating Booker T in a best of five series that culminated at No Mercy,[49] only to drop it to the débuting Carlito Caribbean Cool the following week on SmackDown.[50] After the loss to Carlito, the duo began a feud, resulting in Cena allegedly being stabbed in the kidney while at a Boston-area nightclub by Carlito's bodyguard, Jesús, this worked "injury" was used to keep Cena out of action for a month while he was filming The Marine.[51] Immediately after his return at Survivor Series, Cena won the US Championship back from Carlito on the November 18 episode of SmackDown.[52] He later successfully defended the championship against Jesús at Armageddon in a street fight.[53]

In 2005, Cena took part in the Royal Rumble match, making it to the final two along with Batista until both went over the top rope at the same time, at first ending the match, which was subsequently restarted and won by Batista.[54] The next month, Cena participated in a number one contender's tournament for the WWE Championship and made it to the finals at No Way Out, where he defeated Kurt Angle to earn a spot in the SmackDown brand's WrestleMania 21 main event match,[55] beginning a feud with then WWE Champion John "Bradshaw" Layfield (JBL) and his Cabinet in the process. In the early stages of the feud, Cena lost the US Championship to Cabinet member Orlando Jordan on the March 3 episode of SmackDown after JBL interfered and hit Cena with his title belt.[56]

WWE Champion (2005–2007)

Cena defeated JBL at WrestleMania to win the WWE Championship, giving him his first world championship.[57] Cena then had a spinner WWE Championship belt made.[citation needed] JBL took the original title belt and claimed he was still the WWE Champion,[citation needed] until Cena defeated him in an "I Quit" match at Judgment Day to retain the championship.[58]

Cena applying an STFU to Mark Henry. He began using the move in 2005.

Cena was drafted to the Raw brand on the June 6 episode of Raw, taking his title with him and became the first wrestler selected in the annual draft lottery.[59] Cena immediately entered into a feud with Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff, after refusing to participate in the "war" against the Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) roster at the 2005 ECW One Night Stand.[citation needed] At Vengeance, Cena defeated Christian and Chris Jericho in a triple threat match to retain the title. With Bischoff vowing to make Cena's stint on Raw difficult, he hand-picked Jericho to take Cena's championship from him.[citation needed] During their feud, even though Cena was portrayed as the "face" (hero) and Jericho as the "heel" (villain), a vocal section of the live crowds, nonetheless, were cheering Jericho and booing Cena during their matches, most notably at SummerSlam, when Cena defeated Jericho to retain the title.[60] Crowds booed Cena again during his next feud with Kurt Angle,[61] who took over as Bischoff's hand-picked number-one contender after Cena defeated Jericho in a You're Fired match on the August 22 episode of Raw.[citation needed] Cena held on to the WWE Championship through his feud with Angle, losing to him by disqualification[62] at Unforgiven, pinning Shawn Michaels in a triple threat match involving Angle at Taboo Tuesday, and pinning Angle at Survivor Series.[63] The feud with Angle saw Cena add a secondary, submission based, finishing maneuver—the STFU (a stepover toehold sleeper, though named for a stepover toehold facelock)—when he was put into a triple threat submissions only match on the November 28 episode of Raw.[citation needed]

Cena facing off against Edge at a WWE house show

At New Year's Revolution, Cena participated in the Elimination Chamber match where he retained the WWE Championship when he last eliminated Carlito. Immediately after Cena won, Mr. McMahon announced Edge was cashing in his Money in the Bank contract—a "guaranteed title match against the WWE Champion at a time and place of the owner's choosing". Two quick spears allowed Edge to pin Cena and win the championship.[64] Three weeks later, Cena won the championship back at the Royal Rumble.[64] After that, Cena began feuding with Triple H. The crowd, which had mostly cheered Cena over the previous few months, started booing him again and cheering the intended villain, Triple H.[65][66] Cena beat Triple H at WrestleMania 22 to retain the WWE Championship.[67] The negative reaction towards him intensified when he faced Rob Van Dam at ECW One Night Stand which took place in front of a boisterous crowd of mostly original ECW fans at the Hammerstein Ballroom. Cena was met with raucous jeering and chants of "Fuck you, Cena", "You can't wrestle", and "Same old shit". When he began performing different moves as the match progressed, the fans started chanting "You still suck". Cena lost the WWE Championship to Van Dam at after interference from Edge.[68]

Cena addressing fans at a Raw show

On the July 3 episode of Raw, Edge won the championship from Van Dam in a triple threat match that also involved Cena, re-igniting the feud between them from earlier in the year.[citation needed] After Edge went about retaining the title by dubious means—getting himself disqualified[citation needed] (for which championships do not change hands)—and using brass knuckles[68] he introduced his own version of Cena's "custom" title belt, this one with his logo placed on the spinner.[citation needed] Cena eventually regained the championship in a match and an arena of Edge's choice: a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match at Unforgiven at the Air Canada Centre in Edge's hometown of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, after performing the FU on Edge through two tables off a ladder. The match had a stipulation that had Cena lost, he would have joined the SmackDown! brand.[69] Cena returned with his version of the spinner title belt on the next night's Raw.[citation needed]

On the heels of his feud with Edge, Cena was placed in an inter-brand angle to determine the "Champion of Champions"—or which was the most dominant champion in WWE's three brands. Cena, the World Heavyweight Champion King Booker, and the ECW World Champion Big Show were booked in a triple threat match at Cyber Sunday, with the viewers voting on which of the three championships would be placed on the line.[citation needed] At the same time, Cena became involved in a storyline with non-wrestler Kevin Federline, when he began appearing on Raw with Johnny Nitro and Melina. After getting into a worked physical altercation with Federline on Raw,[citation needed] Federline appeared at Cyber Sunday to hit Cena with the World Heavyweight Championship during the match, helping Booker retain his championship.[68] 2006 ended with Cena beginning a feud with the undefeated Umaga over the WWE Championship.[citation needed]

On the first Raw of the new year, Cena was pinned by Federline with an assist from Umaga.[citation needed] At New Year's Revolution, Cena defeated Umaga to end his undefeated streak and retain the WWE Championship.[70][71] At the Royal Rumble, Cena defeated Umaga in a Last Man Standing match to retain the title.[72] One night after the Royal Rumble, an impromptu team of Cena and Shawn Michaels defeated Rated-RKO (Edge and Randy Orton) for the World Tag Team Championship, making Cena a double champion.[73] At WrestleMania 23, Cena defeated Michaels to retain the WWE Championship after forcing him to submit to the STF.[74]

The next night on Raw, Michaels turned on Cena, costing them the championship in the second of two 10-team battles royals, by throwing Cena over the top rope and eliminating the team. The Hardys (Matt and Jeff) eventually won the match and the championship.[75] For the rest of the month, Cena feuded with Michaels, Orton, and Edge before retaining the championship against the three men in a fatal four-way match at Backlash. The Great Khali then declared his intentions to challenge for Cena's championship attacking and "laying out" all three of the top contenders, before assaulting Cena and stealing the title belt.[citation needed] For the next two months, Cena feuded with Khali over the championship, eventually becoming the first person in WWE to defeat him by submission at Judgment Day,[76] and then by pinfall at One Night Stand in a Falls Count Anywhere match.[77] Cena retained the WWE Championship in a five-pack challenge at Vengeance: Night of Champions, and against Bobby Lashley at The Great American Bash. Later that summer, Randy Orton was named the number one contender for Cena's championship, starting a feud between the two. This would start the long-lasting Cena–Orton rivalry.[78] Leading up to SummerSlam, Orton delivered a number of sneak-attacks, performing three RKOs to Cena, who in the actual match at SummerSlam, retained the championship.[79] A rematch took place at Unforgiven, with Orton winning by disqualification after Cena ignored the referee's instructions and continued to beat on him in the corner.

During a match with Mr. Kennedy on the October 1 episode of Raw, Cena suffered a legitimate torn pectoral muscle while executing a hip toss.[80] Though finishing the match and taking part in the scripted attack by Orton after the match, surgery the following day found that his pectoralis major muscle was torn completely from the bone. At the time it was estimated this would require six months to a year of rehabilitation.[81][82] As a result, Cena was stripped of the title by Mr. McMahon on the next night's episode of ECW,[83] ending the longest WWE Championship reign in over 19 years.[84] Cena's surgery was performed by orthopedic surgeon James Andrews at St. Vincent's Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama.[80] Two weeks later in a video update on, Dr. Andrews and Cena's physical trainer both said that he was several weeks ahead of where he was expected to be in his rehabilitation at that time.[85]

World Heavyweight Champion (2008–2010)

Cena as one half of the World Tag Team Champions

Cena made a surprise return as the final participant of the Royal Rumble match, winning it, and the traditional WrestleMania XXIV title shot, by last eliminating Triple H.[86] Instead of waiting until WrestleMania, the title shot was cashed in against then WWE Champion Randy Orton at 2008's No Way Out in a match Cena won by disqualification and, therefore, not being awarded the championship.[87] The following night on Raw, Cena was placed back into WrestleMania's WWE Championship match defeating Orton in a non-title match with Triple H as special guest referee, making it a triple threat match, during which he was pinned by Orton.[citation needed] At Backlash, Cena failed to regain the title in a fatal four-way elimination match, in which he was eliminated by Orton.[88] During that match, Cena eliminated JBL, renewing their feud from 2005.[88] Cena defeated JBL at Judgment Day and then at One Night Stand in a First Blood match.[89] Cena also failed to regain the WWE Championship from Triple H at Night of Champions.[90] Later, JBL defeated Cena in a New York City Parking Lot Brawl at The Great American Bash in July to end the feud.[91] On the August 4 episode of Raw, Cena became a World Tag Team Champion for a second time, teaming with Batista to defeat Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase[92] but failed to retain the championship the following week against the former champions.[93] Cena lost to Batista at SummerSlam.[94] Shortly after, Cena was named one of four contenders for CM Punk's World Heavyweight Championship in the Championship Scramble match at Unforgiven, but he was replaced by Rey Mysterio after suffering a herniated disc in his neck in his match at SummerSlam, which required surgery.[95] Cena underwent successful surgery to repair the injury.[96][97]

Cena made his in-ring return at Survivor Series, defeating Chris Jericho to win his first World Heavyweight Championship.[98] The two continued their rivalry until Armageddon, where Cena retained his championship.[99] After defeating JBL at the Royal Rumble, Cena lost the championship at No Way Out to Edge, who attacked Kofi Kingston and took his place in the Elimination Chamber match.[100] Cena received his rematch for the title at WrestleMania 25 in a triple threat match also involving Big Show, which he won.[101]

Cena lost the championship back to Edge in a Last Man Standing match at Backlash after interference from Big Show, who chokeslammed Cena through a spotlight.[102] This led to Cena beginning a feud with Big Show who he defeated at Judgment Day,[103] and at Extreme Rules in a submission match by applying the STF.[104] During Cena's feud with Big Show, The Miz challenged him to a match on the April 27 episode of Raw, but as Cena was out due to injury, Miz claimed an unofficial win via forfeit and continued to do this over the following weeks, until Cena defeated him in a singles match at The Bash.[105]

Cena as WWE Champion in 2010

At Night of Champions, Cena challenged for the WWE Championship in a triple threat match against Triple H and defending champion Randy Orton (a rematch from WrestleMania XXIV), but was pinned by Orton after interference from Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase.[106] The next night on Raw, Cena won a beat the clock challenge to earn another shot at the WWE Championship at SummerSlam, where Orton would use underhanded tactics to retain his title. A month later at Breaking Point, Cena defeated Orton in an "I Quit" match to win his fourth WWE Championship.[107] He lost the title back to Orton in a Hell in a Cell match at Hell in a Cell,[108] but regained the championship three weeks later at Bragging Rights in a sixty minute Anything Goes Iron Man match.[109] Cena successfully defended the title against both Triple H and Shawn Michaels in a triple threat match at Survivor Series, but lost it to Sheamus at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs in a tables match. The next night on Raw, Cena competed in a tournament to crown the 2009 Superstar of the Year, defeating CM Punk in the first round and Orton in the finals later that night to win the honor. He would get his rematch for the title against Sheamus on the December 28 episode of Raw, where he won by disqualification, but did not win the championship.

At the Royal Rumble, Cena competed in the titular match, making it to the final two where he was eliminated by the returning Edge.[110] Cena regained the title at Elimination Chamber in the eponymous match, his reign was cut short after Mr. McMahon made him defend the title immediately against Batista, who emerged victorious.[111] Cena defeated Batista at WrestleMania XXVI for the title, and successfully defended it in a rematch at Extreme Rules in a Last Man Standing match.[112] Cena defeated Batista for a third time in an "I Quit" match at Over the Limit, ending their feud.[113]

Storyline with The Nexus (2010)

Cena being forced to read a public address by Wade Barrett while a member of The Nexus

On the June 7 episode of Raw during his main event match against CM Punk, Cena was attacked by all eight former contestants of the first season of NXT, with Wade Barrett as their leader. This group later referred to itself as The Nexus.[114] The stable's interferences made him lose the WWE Championship at Fatal 4-Way to Sheamus[115] and a Steel Cage match against Sheamus at Money in the Bank.[116] In response to The Nexus, Cena formed an alliance with Edge, Chris Jericho, John Morrison, R-Truth, The Great Khali and Bret Hart. They defeated The Nexus at SummerSlam with help from the returning Daniel Bryan, a former member of Nexus, who replaced Khali.[117]

Cena faced Barrett at Hell in a Cell with the stipulations that if he were to lose, he would join The Nexus, and if he were to win, The Nexus would disband. After Barrett defeated Cena, he reluctantly joined The Nexus.[118] Cena and fellow Nexus member David Otunga defeated Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre to win the WWE Tag Team Championship at Bragging Rights.[119] Later that night, he was forced to help Barrett defeat Orton in a WWE Championship match, giving Barrett the disqualification win, but not the title.[119] The following night on Raw, Cena and Otunga lost the titles to fellow Nexus members Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel, when Barrett ordered Otunga to lay down and lose the titles.[120] At Survivor Series, Cena officiated a match for the WWE Championship between Barrett and Orton. Per stipulation, if Barrett didn't win the championship, Cena would be "fired" from the WWE; Orton defeated Barrett to retain the title, and Cena was fired (kayfabe).[121]

The following night on Raw, Cena gave a farewell speech, before costing Barrett the WWE Championship by interfering in his rematch with Orton.[122] A week later, Cena invaded Raw, first as a spectator, but then attacked members of Nexus, explaining that he would still take down Nexus one by one, despite not being employed.[123] On the December 13 episode of Raw, Cena was rehired by Barrett in exchange that he would face him at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs in a chairs match,[124] which Cena won.[125]

Feuds with The Rock and CM Punk (2011–2013)

Cena and The Rock agree to face each other at WrestleMania XXVIII

On the January 17 episode of Raw, Cena returned and faced Punk in a match, which ended in a no contest after Cena was attacked by the debuting Mason Ryan, who later joined The Nexus.[126] Cena competed in the Royal Rumble match at the Royal Rumble, which saw Cena eliminate most of the Nexus members, ending his feud with the stable. He made it to the final five before being eliminated by WWE Champion The Miz, who was not part of the match.[127] Cena won the titular match at Elimination Chamber to face Miz at WrestleMania XXVII for the WWE Championship.[128][129]

On the February 21 episode of Raw, Cena replied in rap form to comments made by The Rock the previous week, as he returned as the announced guest host of WrestleMania. That night, Cena was placed into a WWE Tag Team Championship match, teamed with The Miz. They defeated Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater to become WWE Tag Team Champions. However, their rematch clause was immediately invoked, and Gabriel and Slater won the titles back after The Miz attacked Cena, making their reign the shortest in the title's history.[130] After weeks of insults, Cena and The Rock finally met on the March 28 episode of Raw, where, after a verbal confrontation, and a brief attack by The Miz and Alex Riley, Cena attacked The Rock with the Attitude Adjustment.[131] At WrestleMania, Cena and Miz fought to a double countout, but The Rock restarted the match and performed a Rock Bottom on Cena, allowing The Miz to retain the title.[132] The next night on Raw, Cena, in response to The Rock "screwing" him out of the title, agreed to face him in the main event of WrestleMania XXVIII, the first WrestleMania match to be set up one year in advance.[133] At Extreme Rules, Cena defeated The Miz and John Morrison in a Triple Threat Steel Cage match to become WWE Champion.[134] Cena then successfully defended the title against The Miz at Over the Limit in an "I Quit" match,[135] and R-Truth at Capitol Punishment.[136]

Cena then began a feud with CM Punk, who was leaving the company due to his contract expiring after Money in the Bank. Punk defeated Cena to win the WWE Championship at Money in the Bank and left the company with the title.[137] On the July 25 episode of Raw, after Rey Mysterio won the WWE Championship in a tournament, Cena challenged and defeated Mysterio later that night to become WWE Champion for a record-breaking ninth time,[138] only to be interrupted by Punk, who also claimed to be champion. Punk again defeated Cena at SummerSlam in a championship unification match, after special guest referee Triple H missed Cena's foot on the rope.[139] After Alberto Del Rio became WWE Champion by cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase to defeat Punk, Cena became the number one contender and beat Del Rio at Night of Champions to win the WWE Championship for the tenth time.[140] He lost it back to Del Rio at Hell in a Cell, in a triple threat Hell in a Cell match also involving Punk.[141] Cena lost his rematch to Del Rio at Vengeance in a Last Man Standing match, due to interference by The Miz and R-Truth.[142] After a few weeks of The Miz and Truth attacking Cena and other employees, Cena was allowed to choose his partner to challenge Miz and Truth at Survivor Series; Cena chose The Rock as his partner, and they defeated Miz and Truth at Survivor Series, though The Rock closed the show by giving Cena a Rock Bottom.[143]

Cena and The Rock face off at WrestleMania XXVIII

Cena then began a feud with Kane, who cited his disgust for Cena's "Rise Above Hate" slogan and claimed that Cena would need to embrace the hate to defeat The Rock at WrestleMania.[144] Cena fought Kane to a double countout at the Royal Rumble,[145] and then defeated Kane in an Ambulance match at Elimination Chamber.[146] At WrestleMania XXVIII, Cena faced The Rock in the main event; the match ended when Cena attempted the People's Elbow on The Rock, and he countered with a Rock Bottom for the pinfall.[147] The following night on Raw, Cena accepted his loss and invited The Rock to the ring so that he could congratulate him. However, Cena's call was answered instead by the returning Brock Lesnar, who then attacked Cena with an F-5.[148][149] This led to Cena feuding with Raw and SmackDown General Manager John Laurinaitis, who revealed that he signed Lesnar to bring "legitimacy" to the WWE and for Lesnar to become its "new face".[150] At Extreme Rules, Cena defeated Lesnar in an Extreme Rules match.[151] He suffered a loss to Laurinaitis at Over the Limit after interference from Big Show,[152] but the following month Laurinaitis was fired at No Way Out after Cena defeated Big Show in a Steel Cage match with both their jobs on the line.[153][154]

Brock Lesnar faces off with Cena after his return in April 2012

Cena won the WWE Championship Money in the Bank ladder match at Money in the Bank, earning a contract for a shot at the WWE Championship anytime within a year.[155] On July 23, on Raw 1000, Cena cashed in his contract on CM Punk, and won the match by disqualification after Big Show interfered, becoming the first person to cash in a Money in the Bank contract and not win a title.[156] Cena's feud with Punk continued into SummerSlam,[157] where Punk defeated Cena and Big Show in a Triple Threat match to retain the title,[158] and at Night of Champions, where they fought to a draw.[159] After being sidelined with a legitimate arm injury,[160] Cena returned at Survivor Series only to be pinned by Punk in a Triple Threat match which also featured Ryback.[161] Cena then feuded with Dolph Ziggler over an alleged relationship with A. J. Lee and at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, lost to Ziggler in a ladder match for Ziggler's World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank contract, after AJ turned on Cena.[162] The following night on Raw, Cena teamed with Vickie Guerrero to face Ziggler and AJ in a mixed tag team match which ended in a disqualification after Cena was attacked by the debuting Big E Langston.[163] Cena defeated Ziggler on the January 7 episode of Raw, and again in a steel cage match the following week, despite interference from AJ and Langston in both matches, ending the feud.[164][165]

On January 27, Cena won his second Royal Rumble match,[166] and later announced that he would pursue the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 29.[167] Cena, along with Ryback and Sheamus,[168] began feuding with The Shield, which culminated in a six-man tag team match at Elimination Chamber, where The Shield were victorious.[169] On the February 25 episode of Raw, Cena defeated CM Punk to reaffirm his status as the number one contender for the Rock's WWE Championship.[170] He then returned to his rivalry with The Rock. Cena blamed his personal and professional troubles on his work The Rock previous year, going so far as admitting his own vanity had cost him the match.[171][172] At WrestleMania, Cena defeated Rock in their rematch to win his eleventh WWE Championship.[173] Cena then began a rivalry with Ryback,[174] during which he suffered a legitimate achilles tendon injury.[175] Cena retained his championship against Ryback in a Last Man Standing match at Extreme Rules; the match ended in a no contest after both men were down for a 10 count.[176] Cena then defeated Ryback in a Three Stages of Hell match at Payback.[177] He defeated Mark Henry via submission at Money in the Bank.[178] At SummerSlam, Cena lost the WWE Championship to Daniel Bryan, with Triple H as the special guest referee ending his reign at 133 days.[179] The following night on Raw, Cena announced he would undergo surgery for a triceps tear and would be out for four to six months.[180]

Multiple championship reigns (2013–2016)

Cena returned at Hell in a Cell and defeated Alberto Del Rio to win his third World Heavyweight Championship.[181] He successfully defended his championship against Damien Sandow on the October 28 episode of Raw,[182] and Alberto Del Rio in a rematch a Survivor Series.[183] Cena next challenged then-WWE Champion Randy Orton to unify their respective championships, with The Authority agreeing and arranging for a Tables, Ladders and Chairs title unification match at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs which Cena lost.[184] A rematch occurred at the Royal Rumble for the now unified WWE World Heavyweight Championship, where Cena lost after being distracted by The Wyatt Family.[185] The Wyatts continued to interfere in Cena's matches,[186] and at Elimination Chamber, caused Cena's elimination in the Elimination Chamber match.[187]

I know how John Cena feuds tend to work. He loses one match, then wins the next two or three. Look at Rusev and Bray Wyatt as examples. These feuds don't really help talent. They're established... as definitively below Cena. This is a running theme in WWE booking. [Kevin] Owens is... worse off than he would have been if he had never had the second and third matches with Cena.

Pro Wrestling Dot Net analyst Will Pruett in July 2015[188]

After Elimination Chamber, Bray Wyatt accepted Cena's challenge for a WrestleMania XXX match.[189] Wyatt wanted to prove that Cena's heroic act was a facade characteristic of "this era of lies" and to turn Cena into a "monster".[190][191] At WrestleMania, Cena overcame interference from Luke Harper and Erick Rowan to defeat Wyatt.[192] The feud continued after WrestleMania based on the story that Wyatt was capturing Cena's fanbase This was exemplified by Wyatt leading a children's choir to the ring on the April 28 episode of Raw, where later donned sheep masks.[193] At Extreme Rules, Wyatt defeated Cena in a steel cage match, after repeated interference from the rest of the Wyatt Family members and a demonic child.[194] Cena's feud with Wyatt continued with a Last Man Standing match being set up for Payback, where Cena buried Wyatt under multiple equipment cases to win the match.[195]

On the June 16 episode of Raw, Cena defeated Kane in a stretcher match to qualify for the ladder match for the vacant WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Money in the Bank. At the event Cena won his 15th world championship.[196] He retained the title at Battleground in a fatal four-way match against Roman Reigns, Randy Orton and Kane.[197] At SummerSlam, Cena lost the championship to Brock Lesnar in a squash match, during which Lesnar hit Cena with sixteen suplexes and two F-5s, ending his reign at 49 days.[198] Cena invoked his title rematch clause against Lesnar for Night of Champions, nearly winning before Seth Rollins attacked him to cause a disqualification. Despite this, he became the first wrestler to defeat Lesnar in two WWE pay-per-view events.[199][200] Cena then began feuding with Dean Ambrose for the right to face Rollins at Hell in a Cell, but Ambrose won the right by defeating Cena in a No Holds Barred Contract on a Pole match.[201] Cena faced Randy Orton instead in a Hell in a Cell match to determine the #1 contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, which Cena won.[202]

Cena became a record 13-time WWE Champion in 2014.

On the October 27 episode of Raw, Cena rejected The Authority's offer to join forces, which resulted in a 5-on-5 Survivor Series elimination tag match between Team Cena and Team Authority at Survivor Series.[203] Cena's team consisted of Dolph Ziggler, Big Show, Erick Rowan and Ryback. At Survivor Series, Big Show turned on Cena, resulting in his elimination, but Ziggler eventually won the match for Team Cena with the interfering Sting's help. Per the match stipulation, The Authority were stripped from power and only Cena could bring them back.[204] At TLC: Tables, Ladders, Chairs & Stairs, Cena defeated Rollins in a tables match to retain his WWE World Heavyweight Championship number one 1 contender status. It was then announced that Cena would face Lesnar for the title at the Royal Rumble.[205] On the December 29 episode of Raw, Rollins and Big Show held guest host Edge hostage, forcing Cena to reinstate The Authority.[206]

On the January 5 episode of Raw, The Authority added Rollins to the title match at the Royal Rumble involving Cena and Lesnar. Ziggler, Ryback and Rowan were "fired" for joining Team Cena at Survivor Series.[207] On the January 19 episode of Raw, Cena won a handicap match against Rollins, Big Show and Kane to retain his title shot at the Royal Rumble and win back the jobs of Ziggler, Ryback and Rowan.[208] At the Royal Rumble, Cena was unsuccessful in capturing the title.[209]

Cena after defeating Rusev for the United States Championship at WrestleMania 31

Following the Royal Rumble, Cena began feuding with then United States Champion Rusev and at Fastlane Rusev defeated him to retain his title after Cena passed out from his submission, the Accolade. Rusev had hit Cena with a low blow following a distraction by his manager Lana.[210] In the following weeks, Cena challenged Rusev to a rematch, which was declined, and Stephanie McMahon decreed that Cena would not compete at WrestleMania 31 unless Rusev agreed to a rematch.[211] On the March 9 episode of Raw, Cena attacked Rusev, refusing to release the STF submission hold, causing Lana to grant Cena the match.[212] Cena defeated Rusev at WrestleMania to win the US Championship for the fourth time, marking Rusev's first pinfall loss in the main roster.[213] The following night on Raw, Cena announced that he would issue an open challenge each week on the program with his US Championship on the line. He successfully defended the title against the likes of Dean Ambrose, Stardust, Bad News Barrett, Kane, Sami Zayn, Neville, Zack Ryder and Cesaro.[214] Cena also concluded his feud with Rusev and retained his title in a Russian Chain match at Extreme Rules and an "I Quit" match at Payback.[215] The following night on Raw, Cena was attacked by then-NXT Champion Kevin Owens, setting up a Champion vs. Champion match at Elimination Chamber, where Owens defeated Cena. Cena defeated Owens in a rematch at Money in the Bank.[216][217] Cena defeated Owens again at Battleground to retain the US Championship and end the feud.[218] Cena then resumed his feud with then WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins, with Rollins refusing Cena's challenges for the title. On the July 27 episode of Raw, The Authority forced Cena to defend the US Championship against Rollins. Cena defeated Rollins despite suffering a legitimate broken nose during the match.[219] Cena then faced Rollins in a "Winner Takes All" match at SummerSlam, for both the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and the US Championship, which Cena lost after guest host Jon Stewart, appearing to side with Cena, instead attacked him with a steel chair, ending Cena's reign at 147 days.[220]

Cena defeated Rollins to win the title for the fifth time at Night of Champions, a record in the WWE ownership era of the title.[221] Cena retained his title against Rollins the following night on Raw and then in a steel cage match at WWE Live from Madison Square Garden,[222] while also restarting his open challenges, successfully defending the title against New Day members Xavier Woods and Big E, as well as Dolph Ziggler.[214] At Hell in a Cell, Cena lost the title to the returning Alberto Del Rio in an open challenge.[223] After a hiatus, Cena returned on the December 28 episode of Raw, defeating Del Rio by disqualification in a rematch for the title.[224] On January 7, he underwent surgery on a shoulder injury, which would keep him out of action for an undisclosed length of time.[225]

Feud with AJ Styles (2016–2017)

Cena returned at WrestleMania 32, helping The Rock fend off The Wyatt Family.[226] Cena then made his full return on the Memorial Day edition of Raw on May 30, four months earlier than had been expected for his type of injury.[227] He was confronted by AJ Styles, only to be betrayed by Styles, who joined his former Club teammates Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson in attacking Cena.[228] This set up a match between Cena and Styles at Money in the Bank,[229] which Styles won with interference from Gallows and Anderson.[230] On the July 4 episode of Raw, Cena was again attacked by The Club, but was saved by Enzo Amore and Big Cass. Subsequently, a six-man tag team match was fought at Battleground.[231] On the July 19 episode of SmackDown at the 2016 WWE draft, Cena was drafted to the SmackDown brand, while also defeating Club member Luke Gallows using a pinfall in a singles contest.[232] Cena, Amore and Cass defeated The Club at Battleground after Cena pinned Styles.[233] Cena continued his feud with Styles,[234] which resulted in him losing their match at SummerSlam on August 21, 2016.[235][236] With Styles later winning the renamed WWE World Championship, Cena challenged him and Dean Ambrose in a triple threat match for the title at No Mercy.[237] He lost the match after being pinned by Styles, which came after Ambrose and Cena simultaneously made Styles submit, therefore restarting the match.[238] Cena took a sabbatical from WWE to film American Grit season 2.

On January 29, 2017, Cena defeated Styles at the Royal Rumble to win the WWE Championship and tie Ric Flair for the most recognized world title reigns at 16.[239][b] However, Cena would lose the championship two weeks later in an Elimination Chamber match at Elimination Chamber to Bray Wyatt.[241] Two nights later on SmackDown, Cena lost a triple threat match against Wyatt for the championship in a match also featuring Styles.[242] Cena then began a feud with The Miz,[243] with Miz accusing Cena of being a hypocrite because of his movie commitments, while Cena accused Miz of stealing other wrestlers' moves and personalities. Miz's wife Maryse then slapped Cena before Cena and his girlfriend Nikki Bella sent Miz and Maryse retreating.[244] SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan then set up a mixed tag team match for WrestleMania 33,[245] which Cena and Bella won. Cena proposed marriage to Bella after the match and she accepted.[246] After WrestleMania, Cena then went on another hiatus.

Free agent and part-time appearances (2017–present)

Cena in March 2018

In July 2017, WWE dubbed Cena a "free agent" during the Superstar Shake-up, meaning he could work for both the Raw and SmackDown brands.[247] Following his return, Cena feuded and defeated Rusev in a flag match at Battleground,[248] Baron Corbin at SummerSlam,[249] and was defeated by Roman Reigns at No Mercy.[250][251] Cena returned to SmackDown the next month after Commissioner Shane McMahon named him the final member of Team SmackDown for the men's 5-on-5 elimination match against Team Raw at Survivor Series; at the event, Cena was eliminated by Kurt Angle and Team SmackDown was later defeated.[252]

From January until April 2018, Cena was involved in a storyline where he was trying to find his "path to WrestleMania". After he lost the Royal Rumble[253] and the Elimination Chamber match to determine the next number one contender for the Universal Championship at Elimination Chamber,[254] as well as a six-pack challenge at Fastlane for the WWE Championship,[255] Cena issued a challenge to The Undertaker for a match at WrestleMania 34. He reiterated his challenge over the next several weeks, only to receive no answer from Undertaker.[256][257] At WrestleMania, after Cena drove off Elias in a confrontation, Undertaker made an impromptu return and accepted Cena's challenge, leading to a shocked Cena losing to Undertaker in just two minutes.[258] Three weeks later, at the Greatest Royal Rumble, Cena defeated Triple H. After the match, he thanked the crowd for sticking by him during a tough period, referencing his loss to Undertaker at WrestleMania and his recent breakup with Nikki Bella. He then went on hiatus to focus on his acting and television career.[259] Cena returned in October, competing in a tag team match with Bobby Lashley against Elias and Kevin Owens at Super Show-Down in Melbourne, Australia, which he and Lashley won.[260] He was also scheduled for a match at Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia, but Cena refused to work the event following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.[261] On November 29, it was announced Cena had been awarded the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award Winner by Sports Illustrated.[262][263]

Cena returned to WWE television on the January 1 episode of SmackDown. He put out an open challenge to any man in the locker room, but Becky Lynch (who had begun referring to herself as "The Man" earlier) answered the call. This led to Andrade Cien Almas and Zelina Vega interrupting the pair with a mixed tag team bout set up, which Cena and Lynch won. After the match, Cena endorsed Lynch.[264] On the January 14 episode of Raw, Cena competed against Finn Bálor and Drew McIntyre in a triple threat match to determine the number one contender for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble, but Bálor won.[265] Cena was scheduled to compete in the Royal Rumble match at the event, but was taken out due to an in-storyline ankle injury supposedly suffered during the earlier triple threat match.[266] He appeared at WrestleMania 35 in his "Doctor of Thuganomics" persona and interrupted Elias' concert, performing his finisher on Elias (calling it by its original name of the F-U) after insulting him.[267] Cena returned on the July 22 special edition of Raw titled Raw Reunion, where he engaged in a rap battle with The Usos.[268]

Following a seven-month hiatus, Cena returned to WWE during the February 28, 2020 episode of SmackDown. He seemingly announced his retirement before he was confronted by "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt, who challenged him to a match at WrestleMania 36—a sequel to their WrestleMania XXX match in 2014—which Cena accepted.[269] At the event, rather than a traditional wrestling match, the two squared off in a surreal cinematic-style match called a Firefly Fun House match, taking the competitors on a trip through history as moments from Cena's and Wyatt's history were played out, including Cena's debut against Kurt Angle, a moment featuring his Doctor of Thuganomics character, and the pair's match at WrestleMania XXX. Wyatt ultimately defeated Cena at WrestleMania. Following Wyatt's victory, Cena's motionless body vanished from the middle of the ring.[270]

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cena was unable to appear at WrestleMania 37, marking the first time he missed a WrestleMania in nearly 20 years, as he had wrestled or at least appeared at the event every year since his first appearance at WrestleMania XIX in 2003. At the time, Cena was in Canada filming the HBO Max series Peacemaker, and the pandemic made it logistically impossible for him to travel to Tampa, Florida for WrestleMania 37, as upon his return to Canada, he would have had to quarantine for two weeks, which would have shut down production on the series.[271] In this time, Cena did, however, appear in a WWE advertisement to help announce the location of WrestleMania 38. After 15 months, Cena finally made his return to WWE programming at the Money in the Bank event on July 18, 2021, confronting Roman Reigns after the latter had retained his Universal Championship in the main event.[272] Following this, WWE announced the Summer of Cena tour, confirming Cena had signed a 25-appearance deal.[273] After initially being scheduled to face Finn Bálor for the title, Cena ultimately highjacked a contract signing so he would challenge Reigns at SummerSlam.[274] At the event, Reigns defeated Cena after a back-and-forth contest.[275]

On the June 6, 2022 episode of Raw, it was announced that Cena will return on the June 27 episode of Raw, which will mark the 20th anniversary of his main roster in ring debut.[276]

Professional wrestling style and persona

In-ring style

Cena performing his finishing move, a fireman's carry slam known as the Attitude Adjustment, on Kane

Cena's original gimmick was portraying a white rapper who wore jerseys, backwards hats, and a chain with a padlock around his neck, was known as the "Doctor of Thuganomics". First as "The Prototype", and later under his real name, Cena sometimes used underhanded tactics to score victories, such as using his chain as a weapon behind the referee's back.[277] Cena often rapped before his matches, insulting his opponents, events that happened in the media and even the crowd. Cena also regularly performed "rap battles", where he and his opponent took turns rapping on each other. Cena has reverted to this persona on rare occasions. In 2006, shortly after his debut film, The Marine, his wrestling character shifted from that of a rapper to a young military upstart, wearing dog tags and cargo shorts to the ring and also performing a salute to the crowd. Cena said in a 2011 interview with that "every night when I do that salute, it's also a sign of respect to the men and women that don the uniform of the Armed Forces."[278]

During WWE's change from TV-14 to TV-PG in mid-2008, the name of Cena's finishing move, the FU, was changed to the Attitude Adjustment and his finishing submission move, the STFU, was renamed the STF to fit with the WWE's new policies.[279] During his career, he has been known for ending his matches with a sequence of moves, dubbed the "Five Moves of Doom". The moves typically go in the following order: flying shoulder block, sit-out hip toss, protobomb, Five Knuckle Shuffle, and Attitude Adjustment.[280]

Cena has portrayed a heroic character throughout his WWE career, except for a villainous run in 2002–2003. His signature ring gear includes jean shorts, sneakers, wristbands, and armbands. He also wears a variety of T-shirts and baseball caps, which commonly include one of his catchphrases: "Never Give Up", "You Can't See Me", "Hustle, Loyalty, Respect", and "Respect. Earn it".[281] He has a history of returning from both real and scripted injuries much sooner than expected. ESPN reporter David Shoemaker said in April 2016, "Never underestimate Cena's recuperative abilities. He's somewhere on the recovery scale between German platelet-rich plasma therapy and Deadpool."[282] Fellow wrestler Big Show said he felt most stable being lifted by Cena, despite Cena being over 200 lbs lighter and almost a foot shorter—a testament to Cena's functional strength.[283]


Cena's T-shirt (left) next to The Miz's ring gear (right) in 2012

During his WWE career, Cena's has used his attire in an attempt to reflect the most current fashions and styling within the hip hop culture that his character represents. Cena started out wearing "throwback jerseys" and Reebok pumps until WWE produced specific Cena merchandise which he began wearing.[284] While Cena was a member of the SmackDown brand, one of his WWE-produced T-shirts bore the suggestive spoonerism "Ruck Fules". Whenever it appeared on television, the image was censored, not by the network, but by WWE to sell more shirts under the premise that it was "too hot for TV".[285] He also wore a chain with a large padlock, occasionally using it as a weapon,[286] until WrestleMania 21, when it was replaced with a chromed and diamond studded "Chain Gang" spinner medallion matching his spinner title belt.

Around the time The Marine was released, Cena began wearing more military related attire, including camouflage shorts, dog tags, a Marine soldier cap, and a WWE produced shirt with the legend "Chain Gang Assault Battalion". Shortly after WrestleMania 23, when promotion for The Marine ended, the military attire diminished and was replaced with apparel bearing his new slogan "American Made Muscle" along with denim shorts, not seen since he was a member of the SmackDown roster. He then wore shirts that promoted Cenation and his trademark line "You Can't See Me".[citation needed] Cena has continued to wear dog tags, as he has the names of his parents and brothers inscribed on them, so he keeps them as a way to keep his family close to him.[287]


Cena has been called the greatest professional wrestler of all time by his peers Kurt Angle,[288] and John "Bradshaw" Layfield, as well as by veteran industry personality Paul Heyman.[289] When discussing Cena's legacy on his podcast, Jim Cornette (who was head booker of OVW while Cena was there) stated "I think [Cena is] the last big star in wrestling", praising his work ethic, athletic ability and microphone skills.[290]

WWE chairman Vince McMahon said he regarded John Cena as the WWE's Babe Ruth.[291] Bleacher Report named Cena one of the 10 greatest WWE wrestlers of all time.[292] In 2012, WrestleMania 28, headlined by the John Cena vs. The Rock main event, became the highest drawing event in WWE history with 1,217,000 buys.[293] As of 2012, the event held the record for the highest grossing live event in WWE history grossing $8.9 million,[294][295][296] with the Cena vs. Rock main event being attributed for the key reason for the show's success.[297]

Acting career


Cena, with members of the United States Marine Corps at the premiere of his film The Marine, 2006

WWE Studios, a division of WWE which produces and finances motion pictures, produced Cena's first movie—The Marine, which was distributed theatrically by 20th Century Fox America beginning on October 13, 2006. In its first week, the film made approximately US$7 million at the United States box office.[298] After ten weeks in theaters, the film grossed $18.7 million.[298] Once the film was released on DVD, it fared better, making $30 million in rentals in the first twelve weeks.[298]

Cena filming on the set of 12 Rounds

His second film, also produced by WWE Studios, was 12 Rounds.[299] Filming began on February 25, 2008, in New Orleans;[299][300] the film was released on March 27, 2009.

Cena co-starred in his third film produced by WWE Studios, titled Legendary, which was played in selected theaters beginning on September 10, 2010 for a limited time.[301] It was then released on DVD on September 28, 2010.[302] That same year, Cena starred in the children's film Fred: The Movie, a film based on Lucas Cruikshank's YouTube videos of the same name, where he plays Fred's imaginary father.[303] The movie was first aired on Nickelodeon in September 2010.[304]

In 2015, Cena made appearances in the comedy films Trainwreck,[305] Sisters[306] and a cameo in Daddy's Home.[307] In 2017, Cena starred in the war drama The Wall[308] and lent his voice for the animated films Surf's Up 2: WaveMania and Ferdinand.[309] He also appeared in Daddy's Home 2, reprising his role in a larger capacity than the 2015 film. In 2018, Cena starred in the comedy Blockers, and had a leading role in the Transformers spin-off prequel, Bumblebee. In 2019, he starred in Playing with Fire, playing the role of smokejumper superintendent Jake Carson. In 2020, he voiced Yoshi, a polar bear, in the adventure comedy film Dolittle.[310]

In 2019, Cena was cast in Justin Lin's F9, playing the brother of Vin Diesel's character Dominic Toretto.[311] During the film's promotional tour in 2021, Cena referred to Taiwan as "a country". He subsequently posted an apology on social media as China considers Taiwan a part of China.[312] Comedian and political commentator Bill Maher criticized Cena for his apology to China.[313]

Cena also was cast as Christopher Smith / Peacemaker in James Gunn's The Suicide Squad, a role originally intended for Dave Bautista.[314][315][316]

Guest appearances

Before his WWE debut, Cena made an appearance on the webcast Go Sick as Bruebaker, an angry, cursing wrestler in 2001.[317]

During his WWE career, Cena has appeared on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live! three times. He has also appeared on morning radio shows including the CBS and XM versions of Opie and Anthony as part of their "walkover" on October 10, 2006. Other appearances have included NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Fuse's Celebrity Playlist, Fox Sports Net's The Best Damn Sports Show Period, FOX's MADtv, G4's Training Camp (with Shelton Benjamin), and two appearances on MTV's Punk'd (August 2006 and May 2007), as the victim of a practical joke. He also served as a co-presenter, with Hulk Hogan, at the 2005 Teen Choice Awards, as a guest judge during the third week of the 2006 season of Nashville Star, and appeared at the 2007 Nickelodeon UK Kids Choice Awards.[318]

In January 2007, Cena, Batista, and Ashley Massaro appeared representing WWE on an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,[319] giving the children of the family whose house was being renovated WWE merchandise and eight tickets to WrestleMania 23.[320] Two months later, he and Bobby Lashley appeared on the NBC game show Deal or No Deal as "moral support" to longtime WWE fan and front row staple, Rick "Sign Guy" Achberger. Edge and Randy Orton also appeared, but as antagonists.[321] On April 9, 2008, Cena, along with fellow wrestlers Triple H and Chris Jericho, appeared on the Idol Gives Back fund-raising special.[322] In March 2009, Cena made an appearance on Saturday Night Live during the show's cold opening sequence.[323] On March 7, 2009, he was a guest on NPR's quiz show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! in a Not My Job sequence titled "Sure, pro wrestling is a good gig, but when you win, do they throw teddy bears into the ring?".[324]

In 2020, he appeared in a video produced by Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on refuting coronavirus conspiracy theories. Clips from the video also appeared on the main show.[325]


In 2001, between his training in Ultimate Pro Wrestling and Ohio Valley Wrestling,[20] Cena was involved in the UPN produced reality show Manhunt, in which he portrayed Big Tim Kingman, leader of the group of bounty hunters who chased down the contestants who acted as fugitives. The show, however, was mired in controversy when it was alleged that the portions of the show were rigged to eliminate certain players, scenes were re-shot or staged to enhance drama and contestants read from scripts.[326][327][328]

Cena was featured on the ABC reality series Fast Cars and Superstars: The Gillette Young Guns Celebrity Race, which aired in June 2007,[329] making it to the final round before being eliminated on June 24, placing third in the competition overall.[330]

In 2007, Cena was interviewed for the CNN Special Investigations Unit documentary Death Grip: Inside Pro Wrestling, which focused on steroid and drug use in professional wrestling. When asked if he had taken steroids he was heard to reply, "I can't tell you that I haven't, but you will never prove that I have".[331] The day after the documentary aired, WWE accused CNN of taking Cena's comments out of context to present a biased point of view, backing up their claim by posting an unedited video of Cena answering the same question – filmed by WWE cameras from another angle – in which he is heard beginning the same statement with "absolutely not".[332] A text interview on the website with Cena later had him saying the news outlet should apologize for misrepresenting him,[333] which CNN refused, saying they felt the true answer to the question began with the phrase "my answer to that question".[334] However, they did edit the documentary on subsequent airings to include the "absolutely not".[334]

Cena hosted the Australian Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards with Natalie Bassingthwaighte on October 11, 2008 in Melbourne.[335] Cena guest starred as Ewan O'Hara, brother of Juliet O'Hara, in an episode of the fourth season of the comedy drama Psych.[336] He also guest starred as himself in the seventh episode of Disney Channel's Hannah Montana Forever.

On August 17, 2015, Cena guest co-hosted Today on NBC.[337] He co-hosted the show again on December 28 and 29, 2015.[citation needed] Cena appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers on August 21, 2015.[338] Cena co-hosted Today again on March 28–30 and May 9, 10, 13 and 30, 2016.

Cena hosted two seasons of American Grit on Fox, a reality television series with 10 episodes. 16 men and women were split into four teams, where challenges were given. A US$1 million prize was given to the winning team.[339] American Grit premiered on Fox on April 14, 2016, and the finale of season 1 aired on June 9. Cena hosted the ESPN ESPY Awards on July 13, 2016, in Los Angeles.[340] On December 10, 2016, Cena was the guest host of Saturday Night Live (SNL) on NBC.[341]

On January 24, 2017, Nickelodeon announced that Cena would host the 2017 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards ceremony on March 11. On January 11, 2018, it was announced that he would be hosting the awards ceremony again on March 24, 2018, becoming the third host behind Whitney Houston, and Rosie O'Donnell to host the ceremony back to back years. Two days later, the game show Keep It Spotless premiered with him as an executive producer. In addition, he was cast on Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as the voice of the villain Baron Draxum. The series premiered in July 2018.[342] On February 14, 2019, it was announced that Cena would host a revival of Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader on the network, which premiered June 10, 2019.[343][344]

In 2021, Cena co-hosted the TV game show Wipeout.[345]

Music career

John Cena
GenresHip hop
Years active2004–2005, 2014
LabelsColumbia Records, WWE Music Group

In addition to his wrestling career, Cena is a rapper. He performed his fifth WWE theme song, "Basic Thuganomics", and it was featured on the WWE soundtrack album WWE Originals. He also recorded a song, "Untouchables", for the company's next soundtrack album WWE ThemeAddict: The Music, Vol. 6. He collaborated on a remix for the song "H-U-S-T-L-E" along with Murs, E-40, and Chingo Bling.[346]

Cena's debut album, You Can't See Me, was recorded with his cousin Tha Trademarc. It features, among other songs, his entrance theme, "The Time is Now", and the single "Bad, Bad Man", for which a music video was made that parodied 1980s culture, including the television show The A-Team. A video was also made for the second single, "Right Now," that premiered on the August 8, 2005 episode of WWE Monday Night Raw. Cena and Tha Trademarc were later featured on a track by The Perceptionists called "Champion Scratch". Cena appeared on T-Boz's album, Still Cool.[347]

In October 2014, Cena was featured on two songs with rapper Wiz Khalifa for his two singles "All Day" and "Breaks" for the soundtrack to the WWE 2K15 video game.[348]


Studio albums

Other ventures


Cena signing merchandise for a young fan

Before his professional wrestling career, Cena appeared in an advertisement for Gold's Gym. As a wrestler, he has endorsed the energy drink YJ Stinger,[349] appearing in commercials beginning in October 2003, and Subway,[350] for whom he filmed advertisements with their spokesperson Jared Fogle in November 2006 that began airing the following January. For a time in 2007, he also endorsed two "signature collections" of energy drinks and energy bars sold by American Body Builders.[351] In 2008, Cena filmed a commercial as part of Gillette's "Young Guns" NASCAR campaign.[352]

In 2009, Cena expanded his relationship with Gillette by introducing a new online campaign called "Be A Superstar" featuring himself alongside fellow WWE wrestlers Chris Jericho and Cody Rhodes. The campaign features motivational videos.[353] After Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson called Cena "Fruity Pebbles" during their feud (in reference to Cena's colorful merchandise) Cena appeared on the box of Fruity Pebbles cereal in 2013.[354][355]

He was the pace car driver for the 58th annual Daytona 500.[356] On October 13, 2016, Cena made his debut as the voice of Ernie the Elephant in a new commercial campaign launched by Wonderful Pistachios. He was named to Adweek's "Creative 100" and received praise for his performance.[357] In 2020, Cena and Honda announced a partnership, with Cena becoming the new voice of Honda.[358]


Cena posing with children

Cena has granted over 650 wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses through the Make-A-Wish Foundation — the most in Make-A-Wish history.[359][360] In 2009, Cena received the Chris Greicius Celebrity Award.[361]

From late 2011 until WrestleMania XXVIII, Cena wore a black "Rise Above Hate" T-shirt promoting WWE's "Be a Star" anti-bullying campaign. In September and October 2012, Cena wore pink and black with the phrase "Rise Above Cancer" in partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.[362]

In November 2016, Cena appeared in a public service announcement, "We Are America", sponsored by the Ad Council as part of its "Love Has No Labels" campaign.[363]

Cena made a $1 million donation to Black Lives Matter in June 2020 as part of the #MatchAMillion initiative made popular by k-pop band BTS.[364]

In popular culture

His catchphrase "You Can't See Me" originates from his early days of wrestling in the WWE where he was dared by his little brother to do the yayo dance on tv. The dance consist of moving your head while looking into the palm of your hand. Cena accepted the dare, but waved his hand in front of his face instead to make it look more visible to his brother. Over time this evolved into his signature catchphrase "You Can't See Me".[citation needed] In mid-2015, Cena was the subject of the Internet meme "Unexpected John Cena", also known as simply "Unexpected Cena" or "IT'S JOHN CENA".[365] He has also been the subject of many memes due to his catchphrase, "You can't see me" such as being invisible in photos.[366]

Personal life

Cena with then-fiancée Nikki Bella in March 2018

Cena resides in Land o' Lakes, Florida.[367]

He has said numerous times that he does not want to have children because he does not want to be an absentee parent while he is focused on his career.[368][369]

While promoting his 2009 film 12 Rounds, Cena announced his engagement to Elizabeth Huberdeau.[370][371] They were married on July 11, 2009. On May 1, 2012, Cena filed for divorce,[372] which was finalized on July 18.[373] Later that year, he began dating fellow wrestler Nikki Bella.[374] They became engaged when Cena proposed to her at WrestleMania 33 on April 2, 2017,[375] but ended their relationship in April 2018;[374] they had been scheduled to marry on May 5.[376]

Cena is a fan of anime and has named Fist of the North Star as his favorite anime film.[377][378] He also plays video games, citing the Command & Conquer series as his favorite.[379] Cena supports numerous sports teams from his hometown area, such as the Boston Bruins, the Boston Celtics, the Boston Red Sox, and the New England Patriots, as well as English soccer team Tottenham Hotspur FC.[377][380][381] He has over 20 muscle cars, some of which are one-of-a-kind.[2]

Cena started learning Mandarin Chinese in 2016 to help the WWE expand its reach, and he spoke in Mandarin at a press conference in China.[382] He also revealed in April 2018 that he learned to play the piano.[383]

In December 2017, the Ford Motor Company filed a lawsuit against Cena for selling his 2017 Ford GT, therefore violating his purchase agreement. According to Ford, he signed a contract to keep the car for at least two years but breached the agreement by selling it to make a net profit shortly after receiving it.[384]

In July 2018, Cena briefly moved to China, where he settled in Yinchuan. He went on to create a YouTube show on WWE's channel, highlighting his trips to local stores and markets. He explained that he would be living there for five months while working on a film, Project X-Traction, with Jackie Chan. The shoot concluded in November 2018.[385]

On October 12, 2020, Cena married girlfriend Shay Shariatzadeh, whom he had been dating since early 2019, in a private ceremony in Tampa, Florida. The two met during the production of Cena's 2019 film Playing with Fire, which was filmed in Vancouver, where Shariatzadeh works.[386][387]


Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
CinemaCon | Action Star of the Year | — | Won |
2017 | Teen Choice Awards | Choice Male Athlete | — | Nominated |
2018 People's Choice Awards The Comedy Movie Star of 2018 Blockers Nominated
2019 Teen Choice Awards Choice Action Movie Actor Bumblebee Nominated
2020 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards Favorite TV Host Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? Nominated
2022 Critics' Choice Super Awards Best Actor in a Superhero Movie The Suicide Squad Nominated [388]
2022 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Movie Actor F9: The Fast Saga Nominated [389]
2022 MTV Movie & TV Awards Best Comedic Performance Peacemaker Nominated [390]

Championships and accomplishments

Cena has held the WWE Championship record 13 times.
Three reigns as World Heavyweight Champion bring Cena's total to 16 world championships.
As a Five-time United States Champion, Cena has the most reigns under the WWE banner.

Professional wrestling

Other awards and honors


  1. ^ Cena's 16 world title wins are considered by WWE to be tied with Ric Flair for the most ever, although this is disputed.
  2. ^ Although Ric Flair has won more world championships, several of these reigns are unrecognized by WWE, with the number 16 having been called "WWE mythology".[240]
  3. ^ Both the WWE Championship and the now defunct World Heavyweight Championship were considered world titles in WWE.


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