John Cena wrestles with career

John Cena has been what many consider WWE's biggest star since 2005, when he won his first WWE world championship.
John Cena has been what many consider WWE's biggest star since 2005, when he won his first WWE world championship.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The actor may quit World Wrestling Entertainment because of busy movie schedule

LOS ANGELES • In the recently released The Wall movie, a United States soldier played by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) wrestler John Cena is trapped by an Iraqi sniper.

In real life, Cena, 40, is also confronting a wall - of the career type.

He has spent nearly half his life in the professional wrestling ring.

WWE fans are seeing him less and, soon, he and his catchphrase - "You can't see me!" which he has maintained for years - may disappear altogether.

"I... know that my days are numbered," he told Complex magazine.

"I just turned 40 in April and we have so many young and talented performers, I don't know how many years I have left."

Cena, who joined WWE in 2002, has been spending less time in WWE because he has been making movies.

"There's no dipping around the fact that I haven't been on the programme in a while because I've been doing other stuff," he said.

"I haven't danced around it, I explained that the reason I cannot be on the programme is because the movie folks, their insurance doesn't allow you to.

"That's a deal breaker, it's not negotiable," he noted.

While Cena has a long way to go in catching up to fellow WWE alumnus Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's box-office success (Johnson is Hollywood's highest-paid actor, according to Forbes), his schedule of late has not been empty.

Cena is filming The Pact, a comedy that also stars Leslie Mann, about three overprotective dads afraid of what their daughters might do on prom night.

Two movies are in post-production: Daddy's Home 2, another comedy that stars Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell and Mel Gibson; and Ferdinand, an animated feature co-starring Kate McKinnon in which Cena voices the principle character - a ginormous but gentle bull.

He also appeared in the recently released television movie Tour De Pharmacy, mocking the drug-taking in professional cycling, as well as the TV mini-series Southpaw Regional Wrestling, a parody about a small pro-wrestling promotion in the 1980s.

Cena has also dabbled in the reality TV genre, having recently wrapped up his second season as host of American Grit, which puts normal people through military-style exercises. And he has made appearances on E Network's Total Divas - an inside look into the lives of female WWE wrestlers.

With that exhausting schedule in mind, as well as a new engagement to fellow WWE star Nikki Bella, it is no wonder Cena is thinking about wrapping up his WWE career.

Quitting will not be easy, it seems.

In his talk with news and entertainment portal Complex, he referred to WWE as his "family".

"I think it's imperative to be home with what I call my family and when I have any time available, I will bring it into a WWE ring.

"I will work non-stop. I won't just, 'Okay, I've made it out of the WWE' which is what a lot of folks aspire to do, they want to go on to something bigger and better when I think the WWE is the biggest and the best."

Cena has been what many consider WWE's biggest star since 2005, when he won his first WWE world championship during one of the main events at WrestleMania 21.

While he has mostly played a face, or good guy, Cena's character has not always been beloved by fans.

Lately, he has been getting boos from adults in the crowd, who complain his denim-shorts-wearing, cool-dad image is growing stale.

The jeers will not be what stops Cena, however.

"I totally get it," he told USA Today in 2015 about the ire his character can inspire.

"I don't necessarily spend my time watching programmes that six- to 10-year-old kids enjoy, so I get the need for different racy comedy and story lines."

While some might not miss seeing Cena in the WWE, those who will can take heart. He told Complex that although he may not be in the ring, he would like to maintain some sort of relationship with WWE in the long term.

"If the day comes when I'm not involved with the WWE, that would come as a drastic surprise to me," he said. "WWE has been my family for the past 15 years and I've been very vocal about my passion and love for not just my time in the ring as a wrestler, but also the company itself, what it stands for, the people that work for it.

"I literally would do whatever they asked me to. In whatever capacity I can help the company, I would love to do so."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 24, 2017, with the headline 'John Cena wrestles with career'. Print Edition | Subscribe