John Cena WWE
John Cena. Image Credits: WWE

John Felix Anthony Cena Junior is an American professional wrestler, actor, rapper, and television presenter. He was signed in by WWF (now WWE) in 2001, where he was initially assigned to Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW). Currently, John Cena is signed with WWE on a part-time deal and is also the current host of ‘Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?’ on Nickelodeon, while starring in various films.

Born and raised in West Newbury, Massachusetts, John Cena is a five-time United States Champion, four-time world tag team champion, and a 16-time world champion. He is tied with Ric Flair for the most world championship reigns in WWE history. Of his 16 world championship reigns, 13 of them are with the WWE Championship, which is the current record for that specific title. He is also a two-time Royal Rumble match winner along with being a one-time Money in the Bank winner.

John Cena
John Cena. Image Credits: WWE

Regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time by his peers, John Cena has a huge fan base throughout his wrestling career. Being praised for his character work and promotion skills, John Cena was criticized for his supposed over-representation and victories over rising stars which were deemed as “burials”.

Apart from his brilliant wrestling career, John Cena has also starred in films such as The Marine (2006), 12 Rounds (2009), Trainwreck (2015), Ferdinand (2017), Bumblebee (2018), and F9 (2021). Famous for his ‘rapping’ persona in the ring, he released a rap album called You Can’t See Me (2005), which went platinum. Outside his work in entertainment, he is known for his involvement in numerous charitable causes such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, where he has granted the most wishes in history at over 600.

Early life

John Felix Anthony Cena Jr. was born on 23 April 1977 in West Newbury, Massachusetts, the son of Carol (née Lupien) and John Felix Anthony Cena. Meanwhile, he has an older brother named Stephen, and three younger brothers named Dan, Matt, and Sean. Meanwhile, he is a cousin of the noted computer scientist Natalie Enright Jerger. Raised Catholic, he attended Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, Massachusetts, before he was transferred to a private prep boarding school – Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Massachusetts.

After school, Cena attended Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts, where he was an NCAA Division III All-American centre on their college football team. His jersey was numbered 54, which is still used on some of his WWE merchandise. Cena graduated from Springfield College in 1998 with a degree in exercise physiology and body movement, after which he pursued a career in bodybuilding and worked as a limousine driver.

Personal life

Focused on his career, John Cena numerous times has said that he does not want to have children because he does not want to be an absentee parent. In 2009, during the promotion of his film – 12 Rounds, John Cena announced his engagement to Elizabeth Huberdeau. The two of them got married on July 11, 2009. A year later, on 1 May 2012, John Cena filed for divorce, which was finalized on July 18.

Later that year, he began dating fellow wrestler Nikki Bella, also known as Nicole Bella. John Cena proposed to her at the WrestleMania 33 on 2nd April 2017, getting engaged later. The two of them were scheduled to marry on 5th May 2018; however, they ended their relationship in April 2018.

Nikki Bella, John Cena
Nikki Bella, John Cena. Image Credits: The Mirror

John Cena is a fan of Japanese anime and has named Fist of the North Star as his favourite anime movie. He also plays video games, citing the Command & Conquer series as his favourite. Apart from wrestling and playing video games, John Cena supports numerous sports teams from his hometown such as the Boston Bruins, the Boston Celtics, the Boston Red Sox, and the New England Patriots, along with the English soccer team Tottenham Hotspur FC. Like the other famous male personalities, he has a taste for good four-wheelers, owning 20 muscle cars, some of which are one-of-a-kind.

John Cena learned Mandarin Chinese in 2016 for expanding the reach of WWE, speaking it at a press conference in China. 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.

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 with Jackie Chan. The shoot concluded in November 2018.

Professional wrestling career

Ultimate Pro Wrestling (1999–2001)

John Cena began training to become a professional wrestler in 1999 at the Ultimate Pro Wrestling’s (UPW) Ultimate University based in California which was operated by Rick Bassman. After being promoted to the in-ring role, Cena used a semi-robotic character known as The Prototype. Some of this period of his career was documented in the Discovery Channel program Inside Pro Wrestling School. He held the UPW Heavyweight Championship for 27 days in April 2000. Cena wrestled for the UPW until March 2001.


Early appearances (2000–2001)

Being drafted in by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), John Cena made his unofficial debut for the then-WWF on October 10, 2000. It was a SmackDown episode where he faced off against Mikey Richardson, which he lost. He received another tryout on January 9, 2001, at a SmackDown! in Oakland, California, and defeated his opponent Aaron Aguilera in another dark match at a SmackDown! taped on March 13.

Signing and Ohio Valley Wrestling (2001–2002)

John Cena signed up a developmental contract for the WWF in 2001, being assigned to its developmental territory – Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW). During that time, he wrestled under the ring name The Prototype and held the OVW Heavyweight Championship for three months. Meanwhile, he also held the OVW Southern Tag Team Championship (with Rico Constantino) for two months. Throughout his initial year with WWF, he received four tryouts for the WWF main roster, wrestling against multiple enhancement talent wrestlers on both WWF house shows and in dark matches before WWF televised the events.

John Cena
John Cena. Image Credits: WWE

In early 2002, John Cena constantly found himself competing on house shows for the WWF, wrestling 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, losing to Kenny Brolin in a Loser Leaves OVW match. Later in November, he appeared in a one-off appearance for the developmental farm under the ring name Mr. P in a six-man tag team match, and teamed with the future WWE Hall of Famer Big Boss Man and Charlie Haas, in a winning effort against Lance Cade, Trevor Murdoch, and Sean O’Haire.

Ruthless Aggression (2002)

On the June 24 episode of Raw, Vince McMahon declared that he needed all the wrestlers registered in the roster to find some “ruthless aggression” from within themselves. McMahon stated that he was looking for one of them to stand out from the rest. Three days later, on the June 27 episode of SmackDown, John Cena made his television debut, answering to the open challenge by Kurt Angle and declared that he possessed “ruthless aggression” before he lost by a pinning-combination.

And after the match, Billy Kidman, Faarooq, Rikishi, and The Undertaker congratulated John Cena. Following the near-win, Cena became a fan favourite and began feuding with Chris Jericho, defeating him at Vengeance. After that, he feuded with Los Guerreros (Chavo and Eddie Guerrero) and picked up a victory over Chavo Guerrero on the September 7 episode of Velocity.

On the September 12 episode of SmackDown! Cena teamed with Edge in a losing effort against Los Guerreros and ended the feud in the process. 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.

In October, John Cena and Billy Kidman took part in a tag team tournament to crown the first WWE Tag Team Champions of the SmackDown Brand and lost in the first round. The next week on SmackDown, John Cena turned on and blamed Kidman for their loss in the previous match before attacking him, turning heel for the first and only time in his WWE career.

He went on to defeat Kidman in a singles contact on the October 17 episode of SmackDown. However, John Cena was ultimately defeated by Kidman in a rematch on the October 24 episode of SmackDown.

The Doctor of Thuganomics (2002–2005)

In the 2002 Halloween-themed episode of SmackDown, John Cena dressed as Vanilla Ice and performed a freestyle rap. The following week on SmackDown, he received a new character of a rapper who cut promos while rhyming. Shortly after, Cena took on the nickname – The Doctor of Thuganomics, expanding his gimmick to include rapping before his matches. Cena began wearing hats and sports jerseys as part of his ring gear.

Later in a 2020 documentary on the WWE Network that focused on this period, John 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 John Cena as the “ruthless aggression” gimmick which wasn’t very impressive.

On a bus journey with other WWE superstars, he held a freestyle rap session with Rikishi and Rey Mysterio and impressed Stephanie McMahon, which later led to the gimmick’s adoption. As the character evolved, John 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.

Eventually, John Cena was joined by an enforcer, Bull Buchanan, who was famous as B-2 (also written B², pronounced “B-Squared”). B-2 helped John Cena defeated Rikishi on the January 2 episode of SmackDown in 2003, while he also won over Chavo Guerrero on the January 9 episode of SmackDown.

Both Cena and B-2 participated in the Royal Rumble match but were unsuccessful in their attempts. After that, the duo failed to capture the WWE Tag Team Championship from Los Guerreros, which resulted in Cena replacing B-2 with Red Dogg until the latter was sent to the Raw brand in February.

For the first half of 2003, John Cena sought the WWE Championship, chasing the reigning champion Brock Lesnar after WrestleMania XIX. He gained upset wins over Eddie Guerrero, The Undertaker, and Chris Benoit, who mocked him by wearing a “Toothless Aggression” shirt. Later, he won a number one contender’s tournament against Lesnar for the WWE Championship at Backlash but was unsuccessful in his attempts.

John Cena vs The Undertaker
John Cena vs The Undertaker. Image Credits: WWE

After Backlash, John Cena started a feud with Rhyno and Chris Benoit, along with Chuck Palumbo and Johnny Stamboli. He defeated the team of Spanky, Rhyno and Benoit at Judgment Day. Shortly after this, John Cena began mocking The Undertaker and this led to a match between the two at Vengeance, where he lost a singles match.

On the August 7 episode of SmackDown, the two duelled in a rematch, where Cena defeated The Undertaker with little assistance from A-Train. The feud between the two came to an end on the August 21 episode of SmackDown, when John Cena and A-Train defeated Undertaker and Orlando Jordan in a tag team match. John Cena then pursued the United States Championship, but lost to the then-champion – Eddie Guerrero in a Latino Street Fight for the title on the September 11 episode of SmackDown.

John Cena became a fan favourite even after he was defeated by Kurt Angle at No Mercy. At the 2003 Survivor Series, John Cena along with Chris Benoit were the sole survivors in his team. The two of them then joined forces as a makeshift tag team. On the November 27 episode of SmackDown, both Cena and Benoit participated in a 20-man battle royal to earn a WWE Championship match.

They were the final two men remaining and eliminated each other at the same time, which led the two of them being declared as the joint winners. The following week, however, Benoit defeated John Cena on the SmackDown episode, earning a WWE Championship match against Brock Lesnar the same night.

In early 2004, Cena participated in the Royal Rumble match at the Royal Rumble and made it to the final six before he was eliminated by Big Show. This led to a feud with Big Show. At No Way Out, John Cena faced Big Show and Kurt Angle in a triple threat match for the WWE Championship match at WrestleMania XX, where once again Cena lost the match to Angle by submission.

United States Championship was his first singles championship victory as John Cena defeated Big Show at WrestleMania. He held the title for four months with successful defences against the likes of Rene Dupree, Rob Van Dam, and Booker T before he was stripped of the title by Kurt Angle at the July 8 episode of SmackDown after he accidentally attacked him in Angle’s wheelchair.

John Cena won the championship back by defeating Booker T in a best of five series that culminated at No Mercy. However, a week later on SmackDown, he dropped the title to the débuting Carlito Caribbean Cool. After the loss to Carlito, the duo began a feud, resulting in John Cena allegedly being stabbed in the kidney while at a Boston-area nightclub by Carlito’s bodyguard.

This worked “injury” was used to keep John Cena out of action for a month while he was filming The Marine. Immediately after his return at Survivor Series, on the November 18 episode of SmackDown, John Cena won the United States Championship back from Carlito. Later, he successfully defended the championship against Jesús, Carlito’s bodyguard at Armageddon in a street fight.

A year later, in 2005, John Cena took part in the Royal Rumble match, in which he made it to the final two along with Batista. But both of them went over the top rope at the same time, at first ending the match, which was subsequently restarted and won by Batista. The following month, John Cena participated in a number one contender’s tournament for the WWE Championship, making it to the finals at No Way Out as he defeated Angle to earn a spot in the main event match of WrestleMania 21 in SmackDown.

He began a new feud with the then-WWE Champion John “Bradshaw” Layfield (JBL) and his Cabinet in the process. In the early stages of the feud, Cena lost the United States Championship to Cabinet member Orlando Jordan on the March 3 episode of SmackDown, after JBL interfered-hitting John Cena with his title belt.

WWE Champion (2005–2007)

John Cena won his first world championship at WrestleMania, having defeated JBL. After that, he had a spinner WWE Championship belt made. JBL took the original title belt and claimed he was still the WWE Champion until John Cena defeated him in an “I Quit” match at Judgment Day to retain the championship.

On the June 6 episode of Raw, John Cena was drafted to the Raw brand, taking his title with him and became the first wrestler selected in the annual draft lottery. Having drafted to the brand, Cena refused to participate in the “war” against the Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) roster at the 2005 ECW One Night Stand.

After this, he immediately entered into a feud with the Raw General Manager- Eric Bischoff. At Vengeance, John Cena defeated Christian and Chris Jericho in a triple threat match to retain the title. Bischoff vowed to make things difficult for John Cena on Raw and hand-picked Jericho to take Cena’s championship from him. During their feud, John Cena was portrayed as the “face” (hero) and Jericho as the “heel” (villain) of the match.

However, a vocal section of the live crowds still cheered on Jericho while booing John Cena during their matches, most notably at SummerSlam, where John Cena defeated Jericho to retain the title. It went on even at Cena’s next feud with Kurt Angle. By that time, Angle had taken over Jericho 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.

However, Cena held on to the WWE Championship through his feud with Angle, losing to him by disqualification at Unforgiven, pinning Shawn Michaels in a triple threat match involving Angle at Taboo Tuesday, and pinning Angle at Survivor Series. The feud with Angle had Cena to add a secondary, finishing manoeuvre based on submission – the STFU (a stepover toehold sleeper, though named for a stepover toehold face lock) during a triple threat submissions only match on the November 28 episode of Raw.

John Cena vs JBL
John Cena vs JBL. Image Credits: WWE

At New Year’s Revolution, John Cena participated in the Elimination Chamber match where he eliminated Carlito and retained the WWE Championship. Immediately after his victory, Mr. McMahon announced that 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. However, three weeks later, he won the championship back at the Royal Rumble. From there, John Cena began feuding with Triple H, and once again, the crowd started booing him while cheering up the intended villain – Triple H. He retained the WWE Championship title after beating Triple H at the WrestleMania 22.

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. The crowd jeered at him, chanting “Fuck you, Cena”, “You can’t wrestle”, and “Same old shit” at John Cena in the match. Even after he performing different moves as the match progressed, the fans still booed him and chanted “You still suck”. John Cena lost the WWE Championship to Van Dam after interference from Edge.

On the July 3 episode of Raw, John Cena participated in a triple threat match where Edge won the championship from Van Dam, re-igniting the feud between them from earlier in the year. Edge retained the title by dubious means (even getting him disqualified) and used brass knuckles. After that, Edge introduced his own version of John Cena’s “custom” title belt, this one with his logo placed on the spinner.

In a TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs match at Unforgiven at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto (the home town of Edge, John Cena regained the championship in a match and an arena of Edge’s choice. The match had a stipulation that had Cena lost, he would have joined the SmackDown brand. John Cena returned with his version of the spinner title belt on the next night’s Raw.

During his feud with Edge, John Cena was placed in an inter-brand angle to determine the “Champion of Champions” or in other words who is the most dominant champion in WWE’s three brands. John Cena, King Booker (the World Heavyweight Champion), and Big Show (the ECW World Champion) engaged in a mini-feud which led to a triple threat match at Cyber Sunday. The viewers were to pass their vote on which of the three championships would be placed on the line.

John Cena WWE Title
John Cena: Image Credits: WWE

At the same time, John Cena became involved in a storyline with non-wrestler Kevin Federline and began appearing on Raw with Johnny Nitro and Melina. After getting into a worked physical altercation with Federline on Raw, Federline appeared at Cyber Sunday to hit John Cena with the World Heavyweight Championship during the match, helping King Booker retain his championship. 2006 ended with Cena beginning a feud with the undefeated Umaga over the WWE Championship.

In early 2007, Cena’s storyline with Kevin Federline came to an end. On the first Raw of the New Year, John Cena was pinned by Federline with an assist from Umaga. At New Year’s Revolution, John Cena defeated Umaga to retain the WWE Championship, ending his undefeated streak. At the Royal Rumble, Cena defeated Umaga in a Last Man Standing match to retain the title after Umaga was unable to get to his feet before the referee finished his count down to ten.

After the Royal Rumble, an impromptu team of John Cena and Shawn Michaels defeated Rated-RKO (Edge and Randy Orton) for the World Tag Team Championship, making Cena a double champion. At WrestleMania 23, Cena defeated Michaels to retain the WWE Championship as he forced the latter to submit to the STF.

The next night on Raw, Michaels turned on Cena as threw him over the top rope which cost them the championship in the second of two 10-team battles royals which was eventually won by The Hardys (Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy). After this, Michaels got involved among the others to feud against John Cena.

And then, for the remaining month, Cena feuded with the likes of Michaels, Orton, and Edge until The Great Khali declared his intentions to challenge for Cena’s championship as he attacked, “laying out”, all three of the top contenders before assaulting Cena himself and stealing the physical title belt.

John Cena vs The Great Khali
John Cena vs The Great Khali. Image Credits: WWE

For the next two months, John Cena feuded with Khali over the championship and eventually became the first wrestler in WWE to defeat him by submission at Judgment Day and then again by pinfall at One Night Stand in a Falls Count Anywhere match. Later that summer, Randy Orton was named the number one contender for the WWE Championship, starting a feud between the two.

Leading up to SummerSlam, Orton delivered a number of sneak-attacks where he performed three RKOs to Cena, who in the actual match at SummerSlam retained the championship. In a rematch between the two held at Unforgiven, Orton won the title by disqualification as 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 executed a hip toss and suffered a legitimate torn pectoral muscle. After this, in the surgery the following day they found that his pectorals’ major muscle was torn completely from the bone and it was estimated to take six months to a year of rehabilitation. As a result, Mr. McMahon stripped Cena off of his title on the next night episode of ECW, ending the longest WWE Championship reign in over 19 years.

John Cena’s surgery was performed by orthopaedic surgeon James Andrews at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama. Two weeks later in a video update on, Dr. Andrews and Cena’s physical trainer both declared that Cena was several weeks ahead of his expected recovery time. Despite his injury, John Cena attended the annual WWE’s Tribute to the Troops show filmed at Camp Speicher in Tikrit, Iraq, on December 7, which aired on December 24.

World Heavyweight Champion (2008–2010)

John Cena made a surprise return as the final participant of the Royal Rumble match, winning it along with winning the traditional WrestleMania XXIV title shot as he eliminated Triple H. The title match was cashed in against the then-reigning WWE Champion – Randy Orton at the NO Way Out match held in 2008. John Cena won the match by disqualification and, therefore, was not awarded the championship.

The following night on Raw, John Cena was placed back into WrestleMania’s WWE Championship match where he defeated Orton in a non-title match with Triple H entering as the special guest referee, making a triple threat match. Following this, in a fatal four-way elimination match at the Backlash, Cena failed to regain the title where he was eliminated by Orton.

During the match, Cena eliminated JBL and thereafter, renewed their feud from 2005. The two of them faced at Judgement Day where John Cena defeated JBL and then again at the One Night Stand in a First Blood match.

Following this at the 2008 Night of Champions, Cena failed to regain the WWE Championship from Triple H. Later at The Great American Bash that took place in July, JBL defeated him in a New York City Parking Lot Brawl to end the feud between the two. On the August 4 episode of Raw, for the second time in his WWE career, Cena became a World Tag Team Champion, teaming with Batista to defeat Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase.

But the following week at SummerSlam, he failed to retain the championship, losing to Batista. Shortly after, Cena was named one of four contenders for CM Punk‘s World Heavyweight Championship in the Championship Scramble match at Unforgiven. However, Cena suffered from a herniated disc in his neck in the match at SummerSlam and thereafter, he was replaced by Rey Mysterio. John Cena underwent successful surgery to repair the injury.

Recovering from the surgery, John Cena made his in-ring return at Survivor Series and defeated Chris Jericho to win his first World Heavyweight Championship. The two continued their rivalry until Armageddon, where Cena retained his championship. 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. The rematch for the title was scheduled at WrestleMania XXV in a triple threat match that also involved Big Show, Cena successfully won the match.

At Backlash, he lost the championship back to Edge in a Last Man Standing match after Big show interfered the match, choke-slamming Cena through a big spotlight. This started a feud between Cena and Big Show whom he defeated at Judgment Day and at Extreme Rules in a submission match by applying the STF.

During Cena’s feud with Big Show, The Miz challenged him to a match on the April 27 episode of Raw. But Cena was declared out due to an injury and so The Miz claimed an unofficial win via forfeit and continued to do this over the following weeks before once again Cena defeated him in a singles match at The Bash.

John Cena vs Big Show
John Cena vs Big Show. Image Credits: WWE

At Night of Champions, Cena challenged for the WWE Championship in a triple threat match against Triple H. And then at the rematch from WrestleMania XXIV, he defended the-then champion Randy Orton, but then he was pinned by Orton after interference from Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. The next night on Raw, Cena won a beat the clock challenge to earn another shot at the WWE Championship at SummerSlam.

In that match, Orton used several 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. But, however, he lost the title back to Orton in a Hell in a Cell match at Hell in a Cell. Three weeks later at Bragging Rights, once again Cena defeated Orton in a 60-minute Anything Goes Iron Man match to retain the championship.

Cena successfully defended the title against both Triple H and Shawn Michaels in a triple threat match at Survivor Series, but he lost it to Sheamus at the 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.

He defeated CM Punk in the first round and Orton in the finals later that night to win the honour. He would get his rematch for the WWE Championship 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 Royal Rumble match and made it to the final two where he was eliminated by the returning Edge. While Cena regained the title at Elimination Chamber in an Elimination Chamber match, his reign was cut short after Mr. McMahon made him defend the title immediately against Batista, who won it. Cena defeated Batista at WrestleMania XXVI for the title and successfully defended it against Batista at Extreme Rules in a Last Man Standing match. Cena faced Batista once again winning an “I Quit” match at Over the Limit, thus ending their long-time feud.

The Nexus storyline (2010–2011)

On the June 7 episode of Raw, Cena was suddenly thrust into a new storyline when during his main event match against CM Punk. He 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.

Cena lost the WWE Championship at Fatal 4-Way after the interference from the Stable to Sheamus in a Steel Cage match at Money in the Bank. In retaliation to The Nexus, Cena formed an alliance with Edge, Chris Jericho, John Morrison, R-Truth, The Great Khali, and Bret Hart. Together they defeated The Nexus at SummerSlam with help from the returning Daniel Bryan, a former member of Nexus, who replaced Khali.

Then, Cena faced Wade Barrett at Hell in a Cell with the stipulations that if he were to lose, he would join The Nexus. But if he would win, The Nexus would disband. However, Barrett defeated Cena, and hence, he reluctantly had to join The Nexus.

At Bragging Rights, Cena and the fellow Nexus member David Otunga defeated Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre to win the WWE Tag Team Championship. Later that night, he was forced to help Barrett defeat Orton in a WWE Championship match which gave Barrett the disqualification win, but still not the title.

The following night on Raw, Barrett ordered Otunga to lay low and as a result, Cena and Otunga lost the WWE Tag Team Championship to fellow Nexus members Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel. At Survivor Series, Cena officiated a match for the WWE Championship between Wade Barrett and Randy Orton. Per stipulation, if Barrett didn’t win the championship, Cena would be “fired” from the WWE.

The Nexus
The Nexus. Image Credits: WWE

Orton defeated Barrett to retain the title and thus Cena was fired (kayfabe). The following night on Raw, Cena gave a farewell speech, before costing Barrett the WWE Championship by interfering in his rematch with Orton. The following week, John Cena invaded Raw as a spectator, but then he attacked members of Nexus, claiming to take down The Nexus members one by one, despite not having a job in the WWE anymore. On the December 13 episode of Raw, Barrett rehired Cena in exchange that he would face him at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs in a chairs match, which was won by Cena.

Later that year, on the December 27 episode of Raw, The Nexus (except Barrett) announced that they were under new management. They offered to bury the hatchet with Cena, which he refused. A few days later, The Nexus attacked Cena, leaving a Nexus armband in the ring during the process. As the group retreated, CM Punk, who had attacked Cena with a steel chair twice the week before, came to the ring to apparently attack him once again.

But instead Punk had put on the armband left behind to symbolically announce his allegiance with The Nexus, becoming the new leader the following week as he manipulated Barrett’s banishment from the group. Cena returned on the January 17 episode of Raw and faced Punk in a match, which ended in a no-contest after the debuting Mason Ryan attacked Cena. 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.

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

Earlier in the same match, Cena had made it to the final five, where he was eliminated by the then-reigning WWE Champion – The Miz, who was apparently not even the part of the match. After winning the Elimination Chamber match, Cena earned a match with The Miz at WrestleMania XXVII for the WWE Championship. On the February 21 episode of Raw, Cena rapped in response to the comments passed 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, while teaming with The Miz. The duo defeated Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater to become WWE Tag Team Champions. However, their rematch clause was immediately invoked, and they won the title back after The Miz attacked Cena. After weeks of exchanging insults, John Cena and The Rock finally met where the two indulged in a verbal confrontation followed by a brief attack by The Miz and Alex Riley before Cena attacked The Rock with the Attitude Adjustment.

After this, Cena and Miz fought to a double count-out at the WrestleMania, but The Rock restarted the match and performed a ‘Rock Bottom’ on Cena which allowed The Miz to retain the title. The following night on Raw, Cena accepted ‘The Rock’s “screwing” him out of the title’ challenge and agreed to face him in the main event of WrestleMania XXVIII, the first WrestleMania match to be set up one year in advance.

Cena defeated The Miz and John Morrison in a Triple Threat Steel Cage match At Extreme Rules, becoming the WWE Champion. He went on to successfully defend the title against The Miz at Over the Limit in an “I Quit” match and against R-Truth at Capitol Punishment. After this, John Cena began feuding with CM Punk, whose contract with the company was about to expire after Money in the Bank.

CM Punk vs John Cena
CM Punk vs John Cena. Image Credits: WWE

Punk defeated Cena to win the WWE Championship at Money in the Bank and left the company with the title. On the July 25 episode of Raw, Rey Mysterio won the WWE Championship in a tournament. Later this night, Cena challenged and defeated Mysterio to become the WWE Champion for a record-breaking ninth time, only to be interrupted by CM Punk, who also claimed to be champion.

Punk again defeated Cena at SummerSlam in a championship unification match. Following this, Cena became the number one contender and beat Alberto Del Rio at Night of Champions to win the WWE Championship for the tenth time. However, he lost the title back to Del Rio at Hell in a Cell, in a triple threat Hell in a Cell match that also involved CM Punk.

In the rematch, Cena went up against Del Rio in a Last Man Standing match at Vengeance and lost the title to him after the interference by The Miz and R-Truth. After a few weeks of Miz and Truth attacking Cena and other employees, Cena chose The Rock as his partner to challenge Miz and Truth at Survivor Series. Despite exchanging insults in the following weeks, they defeated Miz and Truth, though The Rock closed the show by giving Cena a Rock Bottom.

After that, Cena began feuding 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. At the Royal Rumble, Cena fought Kane to a double count-out, defeating him in an Ambulance match at Elimination Chamber.

At WrestleMania XXVIII, Cena faced The Rock in the main event match which had been building for a year and was billed as “once in a lifetime”. The match ended when Cena attempted the People’s Elbow on The Rock, and he countered with a Rock Bottom for the pinfall. 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. 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”.

At Extreme Rules, Cena defeated Lesnar in an Extreme Rules match. His feud with Laurinaitis escalated after Big Show cost Cena a match against Laurinaitis at Over the Limit. However, Laurinaitis was fired at No Way Out after Cena defeated Big Show in a Steel Cage match with both of their jobs on the line. Meanwhile, Cena won the WWE Championship Money in the Bank ladder match at Money in the Bank, which earned him a contract for a shot at the WWE Championship anytime within a year.

On July 23, on Raw 1000, Cena cashed in his contract on CM Punk, winning the match by disqualification as Big Show interfered. He became the first wrestler to cash in a ‘Money in the Bank’ contract and not winning a title. Cena’s feud with Punk continued into SummerSlam, where Punk defeated him and Big Show in a Triple Threat match to retain the title.

After being sidelined with a legitimate arm injury, Cena returned at Survivor Series only to be pinned by Punk in a Triple Threat match which also featured Ryback. Then, he feuded with Dolph Ziggler over an alleged relationship with AJ Lee and at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs. He lost to Ziggler in a ladder match for his World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank contract, after AJ turned on Cena.

John Cena vs Dolph Ziggler
John Cena vs Dolph Ziggler. Image Credits: WWE

The following night on Raw, Cena teamed with Vickie Guerrero to face Ziggler and AJ in a mixed tag team match, where Cena was attacked by debuting Big E Langston, ending the match in a disqualification. On the January 7 episode of Raw, Cena went on to defeat Ziggler in a singles match, and then repeating it the following week in a steel cage match, despite the interferences from AJ and Langston in both matches to end the feud.

On January 27, Cena won his second Royal Rumble match and later announced that he would pursue the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 29. Meanwhile, he, along with Ryback and Sheamus, began feuding with The Shield, leading to a six-man tag team match at Elimination Chamber which was won by The Shield. On the February 25 episode of Raw, Cena defeated CM Punk and reaffirmed his status as the number one contender for the Rock‘s WWE Championship.

Returning back to his rivalry with The Rock, Cena blamed his personal and professional troubles for his loss to The Rock the previous year. He went on to admit that his own vanity had cost him the match. At WrestleMania, Cena defeated Rock in their rematch to win his eleventh WWE Championship, shaking hands with Rock as a sign of respect.

After that, Cena began a feud with Ryback, during which he suffered a legitimate Achilles tendon injury, while also facing The Shield, losing to them in various matches. Cena retained his championship against Ryback in a Last Man Standing match at Extreme Rules which ended in a no-contest after both men were down for a 10 count. However, later at the Payback, Cena defeated Ryback in a Three Stages of Hell match.

Then, he defeated Mark Henry via submission at Money in the Bank. At SummerSlam, Cena lost the WWE Championship to Daniel Bryan, with Triple H as the special guest referee ending his reign at 133 days. The following night on Raw, Cena announced he would undergo surgery for a triceps tear and would be out for four to six months.

Multiple WWE Championship reigns (2013–2015)

Having recovered from the surgery, John Cena returned at Hell in a Cell where he defeated Alberto Del Rio, winning his third and final World Heavyweight Championship. On the October 28 episode of Raw, Cena successfully defended his title against Damien Sandow and then, against Alberto Del Rio in a rematch a Survivor Series. After this, Cena challenged the then-reigning WWE Champion – Randy Orton to unify their respective championships.

Later, John Cena lost the title unification match arranged for a TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs. 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. The Wyatts continued to interfere in Cena’s matches, causing him to be eliminated in the Elimination Chamber match.

After Elimination Chamber, Bray Wyatt accepted Cena’s challenge for a WrestleMania XXX match. The former wanted to prove that Cena’s heroic act was his characteristic facade of “this era of lies”, trying to turn Cena into a “monster”. At WrestleMania, Cena overcame interference from Luke Harper and Erick Rowan to defeat Wyatt.

John Cena vs The Wyatt Family
John Cena vs The Wyatt Family. Image Credits: WWE

The feud continued after WrestleMania based on the story that Wyatt was capturing John 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. At Extreme Rules, Wyatt defeated John Cena in a steel cage match, after repeated interference from the rest of the Wyatt Family members and a demonic child. Cena’s feud with Wyatt continued with a Last Man Standing match being set up for Payback, where John Cena buried Wyatt under multiple equipment cases to win the match.

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. There Cena won his 15th world championship. He retained the title at Battleground in a fatal four-way match against Roman Reigns, Randy Orton and Kane.

At SummerSlam, John 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. 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.

John 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. Cena faced Randy Orton instead in a Hell in a Cell match to determine the #1 contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, which John Cena won.

On the October 27 episode of Raw, John 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. 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. Thus, as per the match stipulation, The Authority were stripped from power and only Cena could bring them back.

At TLC: Tables, Ladders, Chairs & Stairs, John Cena defeated Rollins in a tables match to retain his WWE World Heavyweight Championship No. 1 contender status. It was then announced that Cena would face Lesnar for the title at the Royal Rumble. On the December 29 episode of Raw, Rollins and Big Show held guest host Edge hostage, forcing Cena to reinstate The Authority.

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. On the January 19 episode of Raw, John 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. At the Royal Rumble, Cena was unsuccessful in capturing the title.

United States Champion and various feuds (2015–2016)

Following the Royal Rumble, John Cena began feuding with the 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.

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. On the March 9 episode of Raw, Cena attacked Rusev, refusing to release the STF submission hold, causing Lana to grant Cena the match. Cena defeated Rusev at WrestleMania to win the United States Championship for the fourth time.

This marked Rusev’s first pinfall loss in the main roster. The following night on Raw, John Cena announced that he would issue an open challenge each week on the program with his United States 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.

John Cena vs Ryback
John Cena vs Ryback. Image Credits: WWE

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. 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. Cena defeated Owens again at Battleground to retain the United States Championship and end the feud. 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 United States Championship against Rollins.

John Cena defeated Rollins despite suffering a legitimate broken nose during the match. Cena then faced Rollins in a “Winner Takes All” match at SummerSlam, for both the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and the United States 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.

John 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. Cena then retained his title against Rollins the following night on Raw and then in a steel cage match at WWE Live from Madison Square Garden, while also restarting his open challenges and successfully defending the title against New Day members Xavier Woods, Big E and Dolph Ziggler.

At Hell in a Cell, Cena lost the title to the returning Alberto Del Rio in an open challenge. After a hiatus, Cena returned on the December 28 episode of Raw, defeating Del Rio by disqualification in a rematch for the title. On the January 7 episode of SmackDown, Cena aided Kalisto at ringside to victory against Del Rio. That same day, he underwent surgery on a shoulder injury, which would keep him out of action for an undisclosed length of time.

Feud with AJ Styles (2016–2017)

John Cena returned at WrestleMania 32, helping The Rock fend off The Wyatt Family. 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. 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.

This set up a match between Cena and Styles at Money in the Bank, which Styles won with interference from Gallows and Anderson. 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 between the two teams for Battleground.

John Cena vs AJ Styles
John Cena vs AJ Styles. Image Credits: WWE

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. Cena, Amore and Cass defeated The Club at Battleground after Cena pinned Styles. Cena continued his feud with Styles, which resulted in him losing their match at SummerSlam on August 21, 2016.

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. He lost the match after being pinned by Styles, which came after Ambrose and Cena simultaneously made Styles submit, therefore restarting the match. Cena took a sabbatical from WWE to film American Grit season 2.

On January 29, 2017, Cena defeated Styles at the Royal Rumble to tie Ric Flair for the most recognized world title reigns at 16. However, Cena would lose the championship two weeks later in an Elimination Chamber match at Elimination Chamber to Bray Wyatt. Two nights later on SmackDown, Cena lost a triple threat match against Wyatt for the championship in a match also featuring Styles.

John Cena then began a feud with The Miz, 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. SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan then set up a mixed tag team match between the two pairs for WrestleMania 33, which John Cena and Bella won. Cena proposed marriage to Bella after the match and she accepted. After WrestleMania, Cena then went on another hiatus.

Free-agent (2017–2018)

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. Following his return, John Cena feuded and defeated Rusev in a flag match at Battleground, Baron Corbin at SummerSlam, and was defeated by Roman Reigns at No Mercy.

During his feud with Reigns, the two cut various worked shoot promos on each other, going back and forth about what they perceive the other to be and why the crowds react the way they do. Despite sparking rumours of his retirement after the match by endorsing Reigns, taking a bow, thanking the crowd, and waving goodbye to them before leaving, 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.

Team Raw vs Team Smackdown
Team Raw vs Team Smackdown. Image Credits: WWE

From January until April 2018, John Cena was involved in a storyline where he was trying to find his “path to WrestleMania”. After he lost the Royal Rumble and the Elimination Chamber match to determine the next number-one contender for the Universal Championship at Elimination Chamber, as well as a six-pack challenge at Fastlane for the WWE Championship, 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. 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. 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. 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.

During the event, he revealed a controversial new hairstyle, which led to several reactions from fans on the internet. He later said he grew his hair out for a movie he was filming in Yinchuan, China. 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. On November 29, it was announced John Cena had been awarded the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award Winner by Sports Illustrated.

Sporadic Appearances (2019–present)

John 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. 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. John 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.

John Cena vs Finn Balor
John Cena vs Finn Balor. Image Credits: WWE

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. Cena returned on the July 22 special edition of Raw titled Raw Reunion, where he engaged in a rap battle with The Usos.

Following a seven-month hiatus, John 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.

At the event, rather than a traditional wrestling match, the two squared off in a surreal 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 the Doctor of Thuganomics and the pairs match at WrestleMania XXX. Wyatt ultimately ended up defeating John Cena at WrestleMania. Following Wyatt’s victory, Cena’s motionless body vanished from the middle of the ring.

Wrestling Style, Fashion and Legacy

In-ring Wrestling style

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.

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 twice: during his feud with The Rock in 2012, and again at WrestleMania 35 in 2019 during a confrontation with Elias.

In 2006, shortly after his first 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. John 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.”

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. During his career, he has been known for ending his matches with a sequence of moves, dubbed the “Five Moves of Doom”.

John Cena
John Cena. Image Credits: WWE

The moves typically go in the following order: flying shoulder block, sit-out hip toss, side-release spinout powerbomb, Five Knuckle Shuffle, and Attitude Adjustment. During the summer of 2018, Cena promoted the sixth move. On September 1, he finally executed the move, a high-impact left-handed jab known as the Lightning Fist.

John 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”.

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.” 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.


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” until WWE produced specific Cena merchandise which he began wearing. 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”. He also wore a chain with a large padlock, occasionally using it as a weapon, until WrestleMania 21, when it was replaced with a chromed and diamond-studded “Chain Gang” spinner medallion—reminiscent of the ones worn by members of G-Unit—matching his spinner title belt.

John Cena
John Cena. Image Credits: WWE

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”.


Cena has been called the greatest professional wrestler of all time by his peers Kurt Angle and John “Bradshaw” Layfield, as well as by veteran industry personality Paul Heyman. On Cena’s birthday, Vince McMahon said he regarded him as the WWE’s Babe Ruth, indicating that Cena is the greatest superstar in WWE history. This was later more defined at Cena’s entrance at Wrestlemania 35 when he returned as the Dr. of Thuganomics in a segment with Elias. Before Cena’s 2003–2005 theme songs began, WWE showed a video of Babe Ruth playing.

Other than wrestling career

Film career

  • 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. After ten weeks in theatres, the film grossed $18.7 million and once the film was released on DVD, it fared better, making $30 million in rentals in the first twelve weeks.
  • His second film – 12 Rounds was also produced by WWE Studios. Filming began on February 25, 2008, in New Orleans, while 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 theatres beginning on September 10, 2010, for a limited time. It was then released on DVD on September 28, 2010. 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. The movie was first aired on Nickelodeon in September 2010.
  • In 2015, Cena made appearances in the comedy films Trainwreck, Sisters and a cameo in Daddy’s Home. In 2017, Cena lent his voice for the animated films, Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania and Ferdinand. 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 2020, he voiced Yoshi, a polar bear, in the adventure comedy film Dolittle.
  • In 2019, Cena was cast in the F9, along with also being cast for an undisclosed role in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, a role originally intended for Dave Bautista.

Guest appearances

  • Before his WWE debut, Cena made an appearance on the webcast Go Sick as Brubaker, an angry, cursing wrestler in 2001.
  • 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.
  • Cena 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.
  • In January 2007, Cena, Batista, and Ashley Massaro appeared representing WWE on an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, giving the children of the family whose house was being renovated WWE merchandise and eight tickets to WrestleMania 23. 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.
  • On April 9, 2008, John Cena, along with fellow wrestlers Triple H and Chris Jericho, appeared on the Idol Gives Back fund-raising special. In March 2009, Cena made an appearance on Saturday Night Live during the show’s cold opening sequence. 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?”.

Television acting career

  • In 2001, between his training in Ultimate Pro Wrestling and Ohio Valley Wrestling, 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.
  • Cena was featured on the ABC reality series Fast Cars and Superstars: The Gillette Young Guns Celebrity Race, which aired in June 2007, making it to the final round before being eliminated on June 24, placing third in the competition overall.
  • 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”.
  • 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”.
  • A text interview on the website with Cena later had him saying the news outlet should apologize for misrepresenting him, which CNN refused, saying they felt the true answer to the question began with the phrase “my answer to that question”. However, they did edit the documentary on subsequent airings to include the “absolutely not”.
  • Cena hosted the Australian Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards with Natalie Bassingthwaighte on October 11, 2008, in Melbourne. Cena guest-starred as Ewan O’Hara, brother of Juliet O’Hara, in an episode of the fourth season of the comedy-drama Psych. 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. He co-hosted the show again on December 28 and 29, 2015. Cena appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers on August 21, 2015. 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. American Grit premiered on Fox on April 14, 2016. Cena has been retweeting motivational tweets from his followers on Twitter who used the hashtag #ShowYourGrit, in a way that the fan did something motivational to his/her friends in a real-life scenario.
  • The finale of Season 1 aired on June 9, 2016. Cena hosted the ESPN ESPY Awards on July 13, 2016, in Los Angeles. On December 10, 2016, Cena was the guest host of Saturday Night Live (SNL) on NBC.
  • 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. 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.

Music career

Genres Hip hop
Years active 2004–2005, 2014
Labels Columbia Records, WWE Music Group
Associated acts Tha Trademarc, Jake One, Wiz Khalifa


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.

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.

John Cena Rap
John Cena Rap. Image Credits: WWE

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.

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.

Other ventures


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, appearing in commercials beginning in October 2003, and Subway, 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. In 2008, Cena filmed a commercial as part of Gillette’s “Young Guns” NASCAR campaign.

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. After Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson called Cena “Fruity Pebbles” during their feud (in reference to Cena’s colourful merchandise) Cena appeared on the box of Fruity Pebbles cereal in 2013.

He was the pace car driver for the 58th annual Daytona 500. 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.


  • Cena has granted over 500 wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses through the Make-A-Wish Foundation—the most in Make-A-Wish history. In 2009, Cena received the Chris Greicius Celebrity Award.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Cena made a $1 million donation to Black Lives Matter in June of 2020 as part of the #MatchAMillion initiative made popular by k-pop band, BTS.

Championships and accomplishments

Professional wrestling

Ohio Valley Wrestling

  • OVW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
  • OVW Southern Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Rico Constantino

Pro Wrestling Illustrated

  • Feud of the Year (2006) vs. Edge
  • Feud of the Year (2011) vs. CM Punk
  • Match of the Year (2007) vs. Shawn Michaels on Raw
  • Match of the Year (2011) vs. CM Punk at Money in the Bank
  • Match of the Year (2013) vs. Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam
  • Match of the Year (2014) vs. Bray Wyatt in a Last Man Standing match at Payback
  • Match of the Year (2016) vs. AJ Styles at SummerSlam
  • Most Improved Wrestler of the Year (2003)
  • Most Popular Wrestler of the Decade (2000–2009)
  • Most Popular Wrestler of the Year (2004, 2005, 2007, 2012)
  • Wrestler of the Year (2006, 2007)
  • Ranked No. 1 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2006, 2007 and 2013

Sports Illustrated

  • Muhammad Ali Legacy Award (2018)

Ultimate Pro Wrestling

  • UPW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)

World Wrestling Entertainment/WWE

  • WWE Championship[c] (13 times
  • World Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
  • WWE United States Championship (5 times)
  • WWE Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with The Miz (1) and David Otunga (1)
  • World Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Batista (1) and Shawn Michaels (1)
  • Money in the Bank (2012 – WWE Championship contract)
  • Royal Rumble (2008, 2013)
  • WWE Championship No. 1 Contender’s Tournament (2003), 2005)

Slammy Awards (10 times)

  • Game Changer of the Year (2011) – with The Rock
  • Hero in All of Us (2015)
  • Holy $#!+ Move of the Year (2010) – Sending Batista through the stage with an Attitude Adjustment
  • Insult of the Year (2012) – To Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero: “You’re the exact opposite. One enjoys eating a lot of nuts and the other is still trying to find his”
  • Kiss of the Year (2012) – with AJ Lee
  • Match of the Year (2013, 2014) – vs. The Rock for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 29, Team Cena vs. Team Authority at Survivor Series
  • Superstar of the Year (2009, 2010, 2012)

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

  • Best Box Office Draw (2007)
  • Best Gimmick (2003)
  • Best on Interviews (2007)
  • Feud of the Year (2011) vs. CM Punk
  • Match of the Year (2011) vs. CM Punk at Money in the Bank on July 17
  • Most Charismatic (2006–2010)
  • Most Charismatic of the Decade (2000–2009)
  • Wrestler of the Year (2007, 2010)
  • Worst Feud of the Year (2012) vs. Kane
  • Worst Worked Match of the Year (2012) vs. John Laurinaitis at Over the Limit
  • Worst Worked Match of the Year (2014) vs. Bray Wyatt at Extreme Rules
  • Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 2012)

Other awards and honours

  • Springfield College Athletic Hall of Fame inductee (Class of 2015)
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation Chris Greicius Celebrity Award
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation Special Recognition Award (for being the first to grant 300 wishes)
  • 2014 Sports Social TV Entertainer of the Year
  • 2014 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Grand Marshal
  • 2016 USO Legacy of Achievement Award
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