We’re accustomed to the sight of wrestler-turned-actor John Cena looking ripped. But the multi-talented muscle man has taken pumping iron to new heights in 2018 while preparing for both a new movie and his first competitive WWE bout in six months. Here’s a look at his astonishing transformation.
Born in Tampa, Florida, in 1977, John Cena first competed on the national stage in Ultimate Pro Wrestling in 1999, earning its Heavyweight Championship title a year later. Shortly after, Cena moved to the WWE, where he had a low-key start. However, his popularity soon increased when he began rapping during his appearances.
And Cena later morphed into what he referred to as a “goody-two shoes Superman” character during an interview with Complex. It was a persona that would define his wrestling career and much of the sport itself. Indeed, Kurt Angle, Paul Heyman and John Layfield are just a few of the legendary names who have hailed Cena as the finest competitor in WWE history. And looking at his list of achievements in the ring, it’s perhaps not hard to see why.
As of 2018 Cena has lifted 25 major titles, topped the bill at WrestleMania five times and been crowned world champion on 16 different occasions. In fact, only Bob Backlund, Bruno Sammartino and Hulk Hogan have each enjoyed longer combined reigns as world champions. Cena’s achievements also include two Royal Rumble victories, three Superstar of the Year Slammy Awards and a Money in the Bank ladder-match trophy.
Of course, the wrestler has become just as renowned for his acting talents as his skills in the ring. Cena initially seemed to focus on action films, making his screen debut in The Marine and following it up with a leading role in 12 Rounds. But he later swerved into the comedy genre, often stealing the show in movies such as Trainwreck, Sisters and Blockers.
What’s more, Cena has shown up in various non-wrestling small-screen shows as well. He’s guested on Psych, Parks and Recreation and Saturday Night Live as well as competing in Fast Cars and Superstars: The Gillette Young Guns Celebrity Race. And in 2010 the star added TV host to his resume when he presented reality show American Grit.
Now although Cena may cut an imposing figure, he appears to be something of a gentle giant. The star has devoted both his time and money to various charities. And he’s also fulfilled over 500 wishes as part of his work with the Make-a-Wish Foundation – the highest number by any individual.
Sadly, though, Cena’s personal life hasn’t been quite as successful. You see, in 2012, just three years after walking down the aisle with Elizabeth Huberdeau, Cena began divorce proceedings. Later that same year he was seen stepping out with Nikki Bella, a WWE wrestler. But around a month before the couple were due to get married, it was announced that they’d split up.
Cena and Bella’s engagement had actually taken place at WrestleMania in 2017 following their victory in a tag-team bout. And it appears that Cena took the decision to throw himself back into the ring in the wake of the couple’s split. An announcement was subsequently made that he would be making his competitive comeback at an event in Australia.
Kevin Owens and Elias were confirmed as Cena’s opponents, with Bobby Lashley serving as his tag-team partner for the October 2018 WWE Super Show-Down. Cena had last taken to the ring competitively the previous April, when he defeated Triple H to win the Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia. And the star certainly couldn’t be accused of taking his comeback lightly.
Indeed, it seemed that even some of Cena’s most ardent fans barely recognized him when he debuted his new look in August 2018. The star uploaded a video for the millions who follow him on Twitter, showing off an astonishing physique that could only be described as vein-popping. At the age of 41, it was possibly the most ripped Cena had ever been.
Cena made the video during a session at the JC Stunt Team International Training Centre, which was founded by Jackie Chan. You see, the WWE star was there to train for his co-starring role alongside the martial arts hero in Project X. But it was his upcoming wrestling bout that seemed to be most on Cena’s mind.
“I just got some news for you, wrong place wrong time for everyone else in the world,” an excitable Cena says in the video. He then adds, “On the WWE Network, October 6th we’re live in Melbourne. That’s the place and time you want to be.”
Cena then referenced his dramatic physical transformation. “You know, very few times in my life have I been viewed as a secret weapon,” he said. “But I no longer have a target on my back. I’ve been in hiding, I’ve been dropping a few pounds, I’m quicker, faster. And not only am I a secret weapon – I have a secret weapon.”
However, unlike the case with most pre-match fighting talk, Cena refused to diss his opponents in the video. “So this is the part where I’m supposed to talk smack about Kevin Owens and Elias. I’m not gonna do that,” he said. “I’ve had clashes with Kevin Owens before, we’ve earned each other’s respect. Elias, any man who can stand and walk in the same sentence has got something figured out.”
Along with Cena’s millions of fans, several of his fellow wrestlers also appeared to be amazed by his transformation. WWE veteran Sgt. Slaughter tweeted, “Wow – sure hope you are not still as stiff as the boys said you were.” Meanwhile, El Ligero, a star of NXT UK, posted, “Incredible – in absolutely phenomenal shape.”
Cena also revealed in the video that he was soon going to debut a brand-new move. And he stuck to his word during an exhibition match in Shanghai. In an apparent allusion to those who have claimed that his repertoire is limited, Cena’s “sixth move of doom” – a.k.a the Lightning Fist – was used on an unsuspecting Elias.
Indeed, some critics had previously stated that Cena only had five attacks in his arsenal. These were the Five Knuckle-Shuffle, the Attitude Adjustment and the spinout powerbomb as well as the hip toss and flying shoulder tackle. But his critics were forced to eat their words when Cena debuted his match-winning Lightning Fist.
And this particular move helped Cena – along with tag-team partners Finn Balor and Bobby Lashley – to defeat Elias, Jinder Mahal and Baron Corbin. It also proved that despite not having fought for several months, Cena remained as impressive as ever in the ring. However, some viewers were left distracted by not only his new physique but also his lengthier haircut, a departure from his trademark buzzcut.
As well as returning to the ring, Cena has continued to stake his claim as a bona fide actor. Three films featuring the wrestler are scheduled to hit cinemas in the near future: family adventure The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle, the aforementioned Project X and an adaptation of Robert Ludlum’s The Janson Directive.