It's a happy 39th birthday for wrestler, actor, rapper, and reality television star John Felix Anthony Cena.
Born to an Italian father and a French-Canadian mother in West Newbury, Massachusetts, Cena is the second oldest of five brothers. He graduated from Cushing Academy, a boarding school in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. Cena was a Division III All-American in football at Springfield College, where he graduated with a degree in exercise physiology. Post-college, he worked as a limo driver and pursed a career in bodybuilding.
Eventually, pro wrestling came calling, and in 1999, Cena began formal training at Ultimate University, the wrestling school for the Los Angeles-based Ultimate Pro Wrestling. Some of his early wrestling career was documented in the Discovery Channel special Inside Pro Wrestling School. Working as the semi-robotic "Prototype", Cena briefly held the UPW Heavyweight Championship in April 2000. He left UPW when he got a developmental deal with the WWF in March 2001.
Six months later, Cena as The Prototype worked a dark match at a Smackdown taping, a losing effort to Mikey Richardson. He would get two more tryout bouts, both in early 2001 at Smackdown tapings. The tryouts led to Cena getting a developmental contract later in the year, and he would be assigned to its developmental territory, Ohio Valley Wrestling. Cena, still as The Prototype, would win both the OVW Heavyweight and Southern Tag Team Championships. While in OVW, Cena would get the occasional dark match and house show match, usually with enhancement talent. This continued into the spring of 2002.
John Cena made his television debut on the June 27, 2002 Smackdown answering an open challenge by Kurt Angle. Declaring he had "ruthless aggression", Cena gave Angle all he could handle, but it was Angle that would get the win. Post-match he was congratulated by The Undertaker, Rikishi, Faarooq, and Billy Kidman.
Cena briefly feuded with Chris Jericho, defeating him in his PPV debut at Vengeance. In August, he defeated Angle via disqualification, then would be a part of a winning trio with Rey Mysterio and Edge over Angle, Eddie Guerrero, and Chris Benoit.
In October 2002, Cena teamed with Billy Kidman in a tournament to crown new WWE Tag Team Champions. They were ousted in the first round by the eventual winners, Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit. A week after the loss, Cena turned on Kidman, making him a villain for the first time since his days in OVW. The two traded wins on consecutive episodes of Smackdown later in the month. On the Halloween episode of Smackdown, Cena dressed as Vanilla Ice and performed a freestyle rap. In a 2012 interview, Cena said the rap may have saved his career.
"Back in 2003, 2002, when I was just wearing boots and tights and I was supposed to be the ruthless aggression young good guy, nobody in the company liked me. I know Vince McMahon won't admit this, but he wanted me fired, Triple H wanted me fired, everybody hated me. They just wouldn't give me a forum to showcase my talents. I've always been able to connect with the audience if given the ability to speak."
The next week, Cena began using a rapper gimmick, where his promos would often compose of rhymes. He would soon adopt a variation of the classic 1980s WWF logo (without the F, as the company lost a lawsuit regarding the rights to the WWF moniker--a version of the logo would later be adopted for the WWE Legends brand) and would have Bull Buchanan as his enforcer, renamed B-2 (B-Squared). He would be replaced by Red Dogg (Rodney Mack) briefly before going solo.
He won a #1 contender's tournament for the WWE Championship following Wrestlemania XIX and challenged Brock Lesnar for the title, but would lose the bout at Backlash. He would feud with The Undertaker later in the year, defeating him at Vengeance. In the fall, he feuded with Eddie Guerrero over the United States Championship, culminating in a parking lot brawl that saw Eddie win with the help of the returning Chavo Guerrero. After a feud with Kurt Angle, Cena became a fan favorite again when he joined Angle as a member of his team at Survivor Series.
Cena took part in the 2004 Royal Rumble match, finishing sixth before being eliminated by Big Show. The feud, which began late the previous year, culminated at Wrestlemania XX, with Cena defeating Big Show for the United States Championship. He would be stripped of the title in July by then-General Manager Kurt Angle when he accidentally knocked him over. He would win it back by defeating Booker T in a best-of-five series culminating at No Mercy, but would lose it the next week to the debuting Carlito Caribbean Cool. The loss set off a feud between the two, during which Cena was stabbed (kayfabe) by Carlito's bodyguard, Jesus. The injury was a write-off so Cena could film The Marine. Cena would win the title back upon his return in November. It was during his third run Cena introduced a spinner version of the WWE United States Championship.
In 2005, Cena, still the United States Champion, was one of the final two in the Royal Rumble match. Both he and Batista went out at the same time, forcing a restart. Batista would go on to win the match. Despite the setback, Cena still managed to become the top contender for the WWE Championship by winning a #1 contender's tournament, defeating Kurt Angle in the final. That set off a feud with John "Bradshaw" Layfield, then the WWE Champion. In March 2005, Cena would lose the United States Championship to one of JBL's Cabinet members, Orlando Jordan. At Wrestlemania 21, Cena defeated Layfield for the WWE Championship. Shortly after, a new championship belt was created with a spinner in the middle. JBL took the original belt and still proclaimed himself WWE Champion. The feud wrapped up in an "I Quit" match at Judgment Day, in which Cena won.
On June 6, 2005, John Cena would move to RAW via the draft lottery. He immediately feuded with Eric Bischoff as Cena wanted no part of Bischoff's agenda against ECW. Incensed, Bischoff hand-picked Chris Jericho as the top contender for the title. Though Cena was portrayed as the face in the feud, crowds cheered for the heel Jericho. This trend would continue into Cena's next feud with Kurt Angle, with the boos growing for Cena. Cena and Angle feuded throughout the fall, with the two splitting a pair of PPV bouts (Angle won via disqualification at Unforgiven; Cena would defeat Angle at Survivor Series). The feud saw Cena introduce a new finisher to go with his F-U (a parody of Brock Lesnar's F-5 he adopted in 2003): the STFU, a stepover toehold facelock, which is actually a stepover toehold sleeper.
Cena would survive an Elimination Chamber match at New Years Revolution in January 2006 to retain the WWE Championship, but would lose the title soon after to Edge after successfully cashing in his Money in the Bank contract for a guaranteed WWE Championship match at any time of the holder's choosing for up to one year. Cena would win the championship back just three weeks later at the Royal Rumble event. He would then enter into a feud with Triple H, where once again, crowds began cheering for Triple H over Cena. Cena would submit Triple H at Wrestlemania 22 to retain the championship.
The negative reaction towards Cena only intensified, and arguably reached a fever pitch in the leadup to One Night Stand, where Cena was challenged by Money in the Bank winner Rob Van Dam. In front of a very vocal crowd at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, the mostly-diehard ECW fanbase negatively reacted towards Cena... and that's being generous. Chants got more and more vulgar as the bout between Cena and Van Dam progressed. In the end, Van Dam with interference from Edge would win the WWE Championship.
Edge himself would win the title three weeks later in a triple threat match that also involved Cena. He would spend most of the remainder of the summer keeping the title by getting intentionally disqualified. While he was champion, he introduced his own version of the spinner belt, complete with his own "Rated R Superstar" logo. Cena would win it back in a title versus career bout at Unforgiven in Edge's hometown of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Had Cena lost, he would have been banished to Smackdown.
Cena would next engage in a mini-feud against WWE's other two world champions, world heavyweight champion King Booker and ECW champion Big Show in a "Champion of Champions" interbrand angle. Running concurrent to that, Cena would be involved with "rapper" Kevin Federline, and the two would get in a physical confrontation on an episode of RAW in October 2006. Federline, believe it or not, would figure in to a bout between the three champions at Cyber Sunday. In a match for Booker's world title, Federline hit Cena with the belt, helping King Booker retain. He would next feud with Umaga, and Cena would later be the first man to defeat Umaga. Cena's feud with Federline culminated in a match between the two rappers on the first RAW of 2007. Kevin won with an assist from Umaga, but Cena would get revenge on Federline post-match.
Later in January 2007, Cena and Shawn Michaels defeated Rated RKO (Edge & Randy Orton) to win the World Tag Team Championship, making Cena a double champion. The tag champions would actually face one another at Wrestlemania 23, with Cena winning via submission. The next night, the two fought in a pair of ten-team battles royales. They would win the first, but Shawn turned on John during the second, essentially eliminating them and costing the tag titles. For the record, the Hardys went on to the win the titles. Cena would feud with Michaels, Edge, and Orton for the next few weeks, but a new challenger emerged in May.
The Great Khali would lay out all of Cena's top contenders, then Cena himself and even stole the WWE Championship belt, essentially moving himself to the front of the line. At Judgment Day and at One Night Stand respectively, Cena became the first man to submit, then pin Khali.
Randy Orton would be next in line, as he was named the #1 contender for the WWE Championship. Orton would hit Cena with the RKO on three consecutive episodes of RAW, but would still fall to Cena at Summerslam. The two met again at Unforgiven, with Orton winning via disqualification when Cena would not break from the corner.
On October 1, 2007, Cena suffered a torn pectoral muscle while performing a hiptoss in a bout against Mr. Kennedy. Cena would finish the match and take part in the booked beatdown by Randy Orton post-match. Cena would get surgery the next day; it was discovered during said surgery (performed by famed sports physician Dr. James Andrews) that the pectoral muscle was torn completely from the bone, requiring six months to a year of rehabilitation. Not surprisingly, Cena was stripped of the WWE Championship the next day, ending his run at 380 days, the longest championship reign since the heyday of Hulkamania. In a video update two weeks after the surgery, both Cena's personal trainer and Andrews noted that John's rehabilitation was several weeks ahead of schedule.
Expected to sit out until at least after Wrestlemania XXIV, John Cena returned at the 2008 Royal Rumble event, entering last in the show's titular match. He would eliminate Triple H to win the bout, making him the second consecutive winner to enter from #30. Cena decided to use his guaranteed title match for No Way Out instead of waiting until Wrestlemania. He defeated Randy Orton at the event, but by disqualification. The next night, Cena got his Wrestlemania title shot back, but with Triple H added in, making it a triple threat match. At Wrestlemania, Orton retained when he defeated Cena. Cena would be defeated by Orton again the next month at Backlash in a fatal-four way elimination match also involving John "Bradshaw" Layfield. But it would be the fourth man, Triple H, that would win the title that night. The four men would splinter off into separate feuds, with Cena feuding with JBL. The two met on three consecutive PPVs, with Cena winning at Judgment Day and at One Night Stand in a first blood match, but JBL would win the third encounter in a New York City parking lot brawl at The Great American Bash.
In August, Cena would win the World Tag Team Championship for the second time, teaming with Batista to defeat Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. They would lose them on their first defense just a week later back to Rhodes and DiBiase. At Summerslam, Batista defeated John Cena. During the bout, he suffered a herniated disc in his neck, taking him out of a World Heavyweight Championship Scramble match set to take place at Unforgiven. Cena would be replaced in the bout by Rey Mysterio.
John would return two months later, defeating Chris Jericho to win the World Heavyweight Championship at Survivor Series. Cena would retain in a return bout at Armageddon, but would lose it to Edge at No Way Out after attacking Kofi Kingston and taking his place in the Elimination Chamber match. At Wrestlemania 25, Cena won a triple threat match over Edge and Big Show to regain the title, only to lose it a month later back to Edge at Backlash with interference from Big Show. Cena would go on to defeat Big Show on consecutive PPVs, first at Judgment Day, then in a submission match at Extreme Rules.
Cena fought in a return match from Wrestlemania against Triple H and Randy Orton for the WWE Championship, but Cena did not win. Cena would finally wrest the WWE title away from Orton at Breaking Point in an I Quit match. He lost it back to Orton three weeks later in a Hell in a Cell match at the PPV of the same name, only to win it back three weeks later with a 6-5 win in a one-hour anything goes Ironman match. Cena would successfully defend the title against Triple H and Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series, but would lose it in a tables match to Sheamus at TLC.
Cena would regain the title two months later at Elimination Chamber, but Mr. McMahon would order another title match immediately against Batista. Batista won, ending Cena's title reign at 13 minutes. John would win it back at Wrestlemania XXVI, then defeat him on consecutive PPVs, first at Extreme Rules, then in an I Quit match at Over the Limit.
The summer of 2010 saw Cena thrust into a feud with the cast of the first season of NXT. He along with CM Punk, Luke Gallows, and a number of ringside personnel were attacked by the group, with John being the focus. The attack left Cena having to be stretchered out of the arena. The group, known later as the Nexus, would wreck havoc on Cena's life over the next few months. At Fatal 4-Way, Cena lost the WWE Championship to Sheamus in a match that included Edge and Randy Orton. The Nexus got involved in that match, as they would in Cena's rematch against Sheamus at Money in the Bank. Cena formed an alliance to confront the Nexus. His group, which included Edge, Chris Jericho, John Morrison, R-Truth, Bret Hart, and The Great Khali (who would be replaced by a returning Daniel Bryan when Khali was injured) would defeat the Nexus at Summerslam in an elimination tag match.
Cena's feud with the group continued, as he looked to kill it altogether in the fall. He challenged Wade Barrett at Hell in a Cell with the stipulation that Cena would join the group if he lost. Barrett won, forcing Cena into the fold. Cena's plan to destroy the group from within was a no-go, as he was ordered to follow their orders by the anonymous RAW General Manager or be fired. Cena and Nexus member David Otunga defeated Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre for the WWE Tag Team Championship at Bragging Rights, but would lose them the next night to Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel when Otunga was ordered to lie down. The dilemma got more complicated in the leadup to Survivor Series when Barrett challenged Randy Orton for the WWE Championship with John Cena as the special referee. If Barrett had won the title, Cena would be free from his obligations, but if not, he would be fired. Orton retained the title. Despite being "unemployed", Cena continued his vendetta against Nexus, attacking the group one by one. Barrett rehired Cena under the condition that he faced him at TLC. The two met in a chairs match, and Cena won.
Just over a week later, The Nexus, stating they were under new management, attempted to make good with Cena. Cena was having none of it. Cena would nearly be attacked by CM Punk, but instead then put on the armband left behind to announce his allegiance to the group. He organized a mutiny and banished Wade Barrett from the group the following week. Later in the month, Cena eliminated all but one of the members of the New Nexus in the Royal Rumble, effectively ending his feud with the stable.
Cena would finish fifth in that Royal Rumble match before being eliminated by WWE Champion at the time The Miz, who was not a legal entrant in the match. Cena would earn a WWE Championship match at Wrestlemania XXVII by winning the Elimination Chamber match at the titular PPV. Around that time, Cena began feuding with The Rock, who had recently returned to WWE as the guest host of Wrestlemania XXVII. Cena and The Miz would briefly win the WWE Tag Team Championship from Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater, but the ex-champions immediately invoked their rematch clause. The Miz attacked Cena, intentionally costing his team the match and the titles.
At Wrestlemania, Cena and The Miz fought to a double countout. The match was restarted by The Rock; soon after, The Rock gave Cena a Rock Bottom, allowing The Miz to retain. This was in retaliation for Cena giving The Rock an Attitude Adjustment a week prior. The next night on RAW, Cena challenged The Rock to a match for Wrestlemania XXVIII, which The Rock accepted. This was the first time a Wrestlemania bout was announced a year in advance.
In the meantime, Cena would win the WWE Championship from The Miz at Extreme Rules in a triple threat match involving The Miz's former tag team partner John Morrison. Cena would defeat The Miz again in an I Quit match at Over the Limit, then defeat R-Truth at Captial Punishment.
Cena was next challenged by CM Punk, who was on his way out of the WWE at the time. In a classic bout where Cena's career was also on the line, Punk defeated Cena and left with the WWE Championship. With no world champion, a tournament was commissioned to crown a new champion. Rey Mysterio won the tournament and the title. His first opponent would be the rehired Cena, who would beat him to win the WWE Championship for the ninth time, a company record. Shortly after his win, CM Punk returned with the WWE title belt he'd won a week earlier. The two met at Summerslam in a unification match, with Punk winning. Alberto Del Rio cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase shortly thereafter and became the champion. Cena would defeat Del Rio at Night of Champions to become the first 10-time WWE Champion ever. He would lose it back to Del Rio in a Hell in a Cell triple threat match that included CM Punk. He would lose the rematch to Del Rio in a last man standing match at Vengeance due to interference from The Miz and R-Truth. Cena was allowed to select a partner to take on Miz and Truth at Survivor Series. He chose The Rock, and though the team was tenuous at best in terms of getting along, Cena and The Rock defeated The Miz and R-Truth. The Rock turned on Cena post-match, giving him a Rock Bottom.
Cena in early 2012 feuded with Kane, who encouraged him to "embrace the hate" if he had any chance against The Rock at Wrestlemania. Cena managed to "Rise Above Hate" and fight Kane to a draw at the Royal Rumble and defeat him in an ambulance match at Elimination Chamber. At Wrestlemania XXVIII, in a match billed as "once in a lifetime", The Rock defeated Cena when he countered Cena's People's Elbow attempt into a Rock Bottom.
The next night on RAW, John looked to congratulate The Rock on his victory. Instead, John met a returning Brock Lesnar, who gave him an F-5. It was revealed (in storyline) that RAW general manager John Laurinaitis brought in Lesnar to bring "legitimacy" to the WWE. Cena and Lesnar faced off at Extreme Rules in an extreme rules match, and Cena would defeat the returning Lesnar. The feud escalated at Over the Limit when Big Show cost Cena a match against John Laurinaitis. The feud essentially ended at No Way Out when Cena defeated Big Show in a steel cage match; per prematch stipulations, Laurinaitis was fired.
In July 2012, Cena won the Money in the Bank ladder match for a guaranteed WWE Championship match at any time up to one year. He would cash in his contract just over a week later at RAW 1000, defeating CM Punk via disqualification. Since he did not win the title, he became the first man to fail in his Money in the Bank cash-in bout. Punk would retain the title over Cena and Big Show in a triple threat match at Summerslam. The next month at Night of Champions, the two fought to a draw. Cena would miss a few weeks due to an arm injury, but would return at Survivor Series, again in a triple threat match for the WWE Championship, this time including Ryback. Punk retained when he defeated Cena. Cena closed out the year feuding with Dolph Ziggler over allegations that he had a relationship with AJ Lee. Ziggler defeated Cena in a Money in the Bank ladder match when AJ turned on Cena. The new couple met Cena and Vickie Guerrero the next night on RAW, with Cena and Guerrero winning when Big E Langston attacked Cena. Cena would go on to defeat Ziggler on consecutive episodes of RAW to open 2013, the latter bout in a steel cage.
Cena would win his second Royal Rumble match later in the month and announced his intention to pursue the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania 29. After briefly feuding with The Shield alongside Ryback and Sheamus, Cena would retain his #1 contender status when he defeated CM Punk on RAW the night following Elimination Chamber. Just over a month later at Wrestlemania 29, Cena defeated The Rock to win his eleventh WWE Championship. He would feud with Ryback over the next few months, during which he suffered an Achilles tendon injury. He defeated Ryback in a last man standing match at Extreme Rules and in a Three Stages of Hell match at Payback. After submitting Mark Henry at Money in the Bank, Cena chose Daniel Bryan for his next challenger for the WWE Championship at Summerslam. Bryan would defeat Cena at that event, only for Bryan to lose to Randy Orton a few minutes later. The next night, Cena announced he would undergo surgery for a triceps tear and would miss four to six months.
Cena returned at Hell in a Cell just two months later and defeated Alberto Del Rio for his third World Heavyweight Championship. The next night on RAW, he successfully turned back a Money in the Bank cash-in from Damien Sandow. He would go on to defeat Alberto in a rematch at Survivor Series, but would lose the title in a unification match to Randy Orton in a TLC match at the titular PPV. Cena lost the rematch with interference from the Wyatt Family.
Bray Wyatt's issue with John Cena was that his heroic demeanor led to an "era of lies" and he wanted Cena to embrace the monster he was truly meant to be. The two met at Wrestlemania XXX, with Cena overcoming interference from Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. Wyatt would win a return bout in a steel cage match, but would defeat him in a last man standing match at Payback.
Cena won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship for a 12th time (giving him 15 overall world titles) when he won the Money in the Bank ladder match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. His reign would last all of seven weeks before he was soundly defeated by Brock Lesnar at Summerslam. Cena would win the rematch at Night of Champions, but via disqualification due to interference from Seth Rollins.
After defeating Randy Orton in a Hell in a Cell match to become the #1 contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, Cena was offered to join the Authority. Not surprisingly, John turned them down. This set up a ten-man elimination tag team match at Survivor Series. Big Show, one of Cena's teammates, turned on him, but his team would go on to win when Dolph Ziggler defeated Seth Rollins with help from the debuting Sting. Per pre-match stipulations, the Authority was deposed from power, and only Cena could bring them back...which he did just over a month later when Rollins and Big Show held guest host Edge hostage. In one of their first acts back, The Authority fired Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan, and Ryback. The firing didn't stick; they were brought back two weeks later when Cena defeated Rollins, Big Show, and Kane in a handicap match, which also allowed Cena to keep his #1 contender status for the world title. At the Royal Rumble event, Brock Lesnar retained when he pinned the third man in the match, Seth Rollins.
Cena feuded with United States Champion Rusev following the Royal Rumble. At Fastlane, Rusev choked out Cena with the Accolade following a low blow and a distraction. Cena wanted a do-over, but was denied by Rusev and Stephanie McMahon, the latter saying that unless Rusev agreed to a match, he would be off the card altogether for Wrestlemania 31. Cena put Rusev in the STF and Lana gave him what he wanted: one more match for the title. At Wrestlemania 31, Cena defeated Rusev for the title, giving Rusev his first pinfall loss since joining the main roster and Cena his fourth United States Championship (his first since 2005).
The next night, Cena announced he would defend the title against anyone answering an open challenge. In addition to defeating Rusev in a return bout in a Russian chain match at Payback, Cena would turn back the challenges of the likes of Dean Ambrose, Stardust, Bad News Barrett, Kane, Sami Zayn, Neville, Zack Ryder, and Cesaro. Following Payback, then-NXT champion Kevin Owens answered the call, but Owens would attack and lay out Cena. The two met in a non-title bout at Elimination Chamber, which was won by Owens. Cena would go on to defeat Owens on consecutive PPVs (Money in the Bank and Battleground for the United States Championship).
Cena would resume his feud with Seth Rollins in the summer. The two met on a July 2015 RAW, with Cena retaining the United States title, but suffered a broken nose in the encounter. The two met again in a title-for-title match at Summerslam, with Rollins retaining with help from guest host Jon Stewart. Cena would get his revenge on Stewart the next night, then regain the United States title the next month at Night of Champions. The win gave Cena his fifth United States title, the most in the WWE era. After retaining in a return bout on RAW and in a steel cage match at WWE Live from Madison Square Garden, Cena lost the title to the returning Alberto Del Rio in an open challenge bout.
After a brief hiatus, Cena returned, but it would be brief. Cena would defeat Del Rio by disqualification in a rematch on the December 28 RAW. On January 7, Cena underwent shoulder surgery. Though John has said he is ready to return, he has not been fully cleared for full-time competition. It didn't stop him from making a cameo appearance at Wrestlemania 32 to help The Rock fend off the Wyatt Family.
Cena has had multiple film and television roles. On the big screen, he starred in WWE Studios films The Marine, 12 Rounds, and Legendary. In 2010, Cena played Fred's father in the children's flick Fred: The Movie based on the YouTube video series. He also appeared in the two sequels in 2011 and 2012. Cena's voiced himself in the last three WWE animated crossovers: Scooby-Doo! Wrestlemania Mystery in 2014, The Flintstones & WWE: Stone Age Smackdown! In 2015, and the currently in production Surf's Up 2: Wavemania. Last year, he starred alongside Amy Schumer as Steven in Trainwreck.
On TV, he's appeared (to name a few) on Jimmy Kimmel Live! three times, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Deal or No Deal, The Best Damn Sports Show Period, Saturday Night Live in guest roles. Before making it to WWE, Cena played Big Tim Kingman on the short-lived UPN series Manhunt (the show came under fire when it was revealed certain portions of the show were rigged and that the show was filmed in Los Angeles rather than in Hawaii). More recently, he's co-hosted two episodes of Today late last year (and three episodes this year) and made an appearance on Late Night with Seth Myers.
In 2007, Cena competed on the ABC reality series Fast Cars and Superstars: The Gillette Young Guns Celebrity Race. Cena made it to the show's finale, but finished third. That same year, he appeared on the CNN special Death Grip: Inside Pro Wrestling. When asked if he had used steroids, Cena replied on the special "I can't tell you that I haven't, but you will never prove that I have." The response according to WWE was taken out of context, and the company demanded an apology from CNN. Subsequent airings of the special aired an edited version of his answer to include the words "absolutely not," which was how Cena began his response.
During Cena's hiatus late last year, he got into the reality hosting business. He hosts the FOX reality competition American Grit, a show where four teams of four face off in a military/survival competition for a $1 million prize. The series began airing earlier this month.
John has granted over 500 wishes for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a charity that supports children with life-threatening illnesses. In 2009, Cena received the Chris Grecius Celebrity Award.
Cena, believe it or not, has also recorded an album, You Can't See Me, with his cousin Tha Trademarc in 2005. He also performed solo tracks, including "Basic Thuganomics" for WWE Originals, and "Untouchables" for WWE ThemeAddict: The Music, Volume 6. He recorded two songs with Wiz Khalifa for the WWE 2K15 soundtrack.
Cena has crossed over into pop culture with the Unexpected John Cena meme. The meme is based off a prank call from the New York-based Z Morning Zoo show in 2012. Cena took it in stride in a 2016 interview with GQ:
"This right here is the litmus test. Because I'm kind of aware of what's going on, and I'm fascinated with pop culture, and you can't dictate pop culture. So when pop culture is kind enough to let you in, exploit you, and in a lot of cases make fun of you, and you're just gonna be the vehicle to push this new gag, I totally embrace it. Whether it's in praise or total humor, I don't care. Just to be accepted at this point in my career, I think it's pretty special. At the end of the day, I am overwhelmingly honored to interrupt such historic events."
John is a fan of Boston's sports teams (Celtics, Patriots, Bruins, and Red Sox), as well as a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tampa Bay Rays, and the Tottenham Hotspur Spurs (or Liliywhites) of the English Premier League. He is also a fan of Japanese anime (his favorite is Fist of the North Star). He has a muscle car collection and owns about two dozen of them, including some one-of-a-kind cars.
Cena was married to Elizabeth Huberdeau for just over three years, from July 2009 to July 2012. The divorced was briefly mentioned during John's feud with The Rock in 2013. Cena has been dating Nikki Bella for the past three and a half years.
So... a partial list of accomplishments for "The Face That Runs The Place", aka "Fruity Pebbles", aka "The Face of WWE", aka "Big Match John":
- 12-time WWE Champion
- 3-time World Heavyweight Champion
- 2-time World Tag Team Champion
- 2-time WWE Tag Team Champion
- 5-time WWE United States Champion
- 2008 and 2013 Royal Rumble Winner
- 2012 Money in the Bank Winner
- 10-time Slammy Award Winner (including Superstar of the Year awards in 2009, 2010, and 2013 and Match of the Year awards in 2013 and 2014)
From Wrestling Observer Newsletter:
- 5-star match (yes, he has one; 2011 versus CM Punk at Money in the Bank)
- 2011 Match of the Year
- 2011 Feud of the Year
- Best Gimmick of 2003
- Best Box Office Draw of 2007
- 5-time Most Charismatic (2006-2010)
- Most Charismatic Wrestler of the 2000s
- 2-time Wrestler of the Year (2007, 2010)
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame Class of 2012
From Pro Wrestling Illustrated:
- 2-time Feud of the Year winner (2006 with Edge, 2011 with CM Punk)
- 4-time Match of the Year winner (2007, 2011, 2013, 2014)
- Most Improved Wrestler of 2003
- Most Popular Wrestler of the 2000s
- 4-time Most Popular Wrestler of the Year (2004, 2005, 2007, 2012)
- 2-time Wrestler of the Year (2006 and 2007)
- #1 ranked singles wrestler in the world three times in the PWI 500 (2006, 2007, 2013)