Cena arrived on WWE’s main roster in 2002, and initially struggled to make it work, narrowly escaping being fired in 2003.
John recovered from that and went from strengh-to-strength, earning the trust of Vince McMahon before going on to become one of the biggest stars in wrestling history.
Cena is one of wrestling’s most recognisable ever names but there are still things that even WWE fans have to find out about the 16-time World Champion, so here are 10 things you might not know about him…
He started weightlifting for a specific reason
John Cena has one of the best physiques in WWE history but he only started weightlifting to combat bullies at school. Picked on for being a scrawny kid who liked rap and hip hop in a neighbourhood that did not, he packed on the muscle by the time he was 15 and never looked back.
Cena was a college football player
Cena attended Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts where he was an NCAA Division 3 All-American centre on their football team. His jersey number, 54, is featured on much of his WWE merchandise.
His first wrestling gimmick was “The Prototype”
Using his large physique, Cena adopted a half-man half-robot character known as “The Prototype” in the early days of his wrestling career. The gimmick landed him a WWE developmental contract and saw him win the OVW Heavyweight Title before moving to the main roster.
A Halloween-themed episode of Smackdown led to him becoming the “Doctor of Thuganomics”
Cena debuted on Smackdown as a cookie-cutter babyface with little to no character. Dressed as Vanilla Ice for a Halloween-themed episode of Smackdown, he performed a freestyle rap. It led to him adopting a rap gimmick which saved and then launched his WWE career.
He had a hit rap album in 2005
Cena’s rapping skills saw him feature on two of his theme songs, “Basic Thuganomics” and “The Time Is Now.” His second and most famous theme song appeared on his 2005 album “You Can’t See Me”, which debuted at 15 on the Billboard 200 charts.
He wrestled with a torn pectoral muscle
During a 2007 match with Mr. Kennedy, Cena performing one of his typical moves tore his right pectoral tendon instantly and was in excruciating pain. Despite this, he finished the match and won it, a testament to his renowned toughness.
He once lost a match to Kevin Federline
In late 2006, Kevin Federline, better known as K-Fed or Britney Spears’ ex-husband, made a guest appearance on Raw, leading to a short feud with Cena. The two eventually squared off in the ring, with K-Fed amazingly beating the WWE Champion with the help of Umaga.
He appeared on the cover of a cereal box
When John Cena and The Rock feuded in 2011-13, The Great One mocked Cena’s colourful merchandise, branding him a fruity pebble. Sensing a brilliant marketing opportunity, Fruity Pebbles put Cena on the cover of their cereal boxes, which the Champ was delighted about.
He speaks Mandarin
Being the smart businessperson and ultimate WWE ambassador that he is, Cena began learning Mandarin many years ago, rightly citing the Chinese market as a massive opportunity for growth. You Can’t See Me in Mandarin anyone?
He is a “fan” of Tottenham Hotspur football team
Cena appeared on Mark Lawrenson’s BBC Premier League predictions a few years ago and said his favourite football team was Spurs. His reason for this was visiting their ground and getting a CENA 54 jersey.