Depending on whom you ask, John Cena is either considered perhaps the greatest WWE superstar in history or the main reason the company has been on a long, downward spiral for the past decade plus. To their collective credit, WWE executives and Cena himself are well aware of this fact, digging into the Cenation Leader’s highly dichotomous persona each time he makes an increasingly rare appearance in the ring.
That brings us to the point of this list—in recent years, Cena has been dramatically decreasing his presence inside the squared circle, and combined with his questionable status in the eyes of many fans, maybe this means it’s time the so-called Face of WWE starts thinking about stepping away for good. On the other hand, should Cena decide to make a career move, Vince McMahon and his sports entertainment empire could find themselves in some pretty big trouble. Love him or hate him, every fan of pro wrestling knows Cena’s name, and more of them are willing to pay to watch the guy either kick ass or get his ass kicked than any other superstar in the game today.
Truth be told, the chance of John Cena actually leaving the wrestling business anytime soon is remarkably slim. Of course, that doesn’t mean the people who hate him can’t cross their fingers and hope for the best. Some might even look for a few reasons to nudge the guy in the right direction, and in that case, we've got you covered. Unfortunately, like we said, it also probably isn’t going to work. In any event, keep reading to learn 8 reasons John Cena should retire already and 7 explanations why he’s going to stick around anyway.
15 WHY HE SHOULD RETIRE: He’s Too Busy To Keep Wrestling
Before we even get into why John Cena should retire from wrestling for good, let’s take a second and examine why he’s barely ever in the ring anymore in the first place. Simply put, the man has way too much on his plate to continue working the schedule required of a WWE superstar. The men and women of pro wrestling are on the road five or six days a week with no off-season, which kind of gets in the way of Cena’s plans to film a bunch of movies and host a reality show. The move from wrestling to entertainment in general has been gradually taking place for a long time now, and it’s hit a point where Cena just doesn’t have the time to perform his main job. Most of the other issues this list will touch on hinge largely on this fact.
14 WHY HE WON’T: His Family Is Etched In The Business
No matter how tired fans are getting of him, now more than ever, John Cena is literally making WWE his family. By finally marrying Nikki Bella after years of dating, Cena has officially entwined his life with that of his female wrestling spouse-to-be, and her own continued success in the ring could hinge on him sticking around and rooting for her. With the success of Total Bellas, it’s pretty obvious Nikki isn’t going anywhere, yet the disconnect between the reality TV audience and WWE Universe means her appearances are usually met with lukewarm applause at best—unless Cena is nearby, making the fans care about her again. That’s not mentioning Nikki’s sister Brie, let alone their brother-in-law Daniel Bryan or their stepfather John Laurinaitis, all of whom might not necessarily get hurt by Cena stepping away but would definitely do their part in talking him out of the idea.
13 WHY HE SHOULD RETIRE: His Appearances Are Becoming Meaningless
More so than the fact he’s barely around anymore, the thing that fans really hate about John Cena is that whenever he does show up these days, it’s almost always for something completely pointless. Worse than that, it wastes a whole bunch of time, along with the efforts and attention of workers who deserve much more than to lose to Cena in a meaningless match. In 2017 alone, Cena has come out of hiding to randomly cut off the momentum of AJ Styles, The Miz, and Rusev, and he even got to win the WWE Championship along the way… for all of two weeks. Not only did Cena have nothing to gain from these appearances, those other wrestlers actually stuck around when he left, coming out of the experience looking weaker than when it started. It would be one thing if Cena stayed on top after these big returns, but all he does is arrive, bury someone, and leave, rendering the entire ordeal destructively pointless.
12 WHY HE WON’T: He Still Gets The Biggest Reaction Of The Night
Although it was already covered in the intro and becomes apparent every time John Cena steps through the curtain at a WWE event, one fact about the man bears repeating—love him or hate him, Cena always gets the loudest response from wrestling fans out of any semi-active performer. Not a single fan in the WWE Universe is seated when Cena walks down the ramp, and they keep screaming at the top of their lungs until the man makes his exit. Throw in the rarity of his appearances these days, and the audience is going to be even louder when they actually get to see him. From the very beginning, professional wrestling has been about only one thing, and that’s making audiences react. Cheer, boo, rage, or applaud, it doesn’t matter, so long as they’re vocal about what they see. The idea of Cena walking out to a silent crowd is unthinkable, and until the day such a scenario is even conceivable, he has no real reason to retire for good.
11 WHY HE SHOULD RETIRE: He’s Beating Records For No Reason
At the 2017 Royal Rumble, John Cena capped off his latest return to wrestling after roughly a two-month vacation by defeating AJ Styles for the WWE Championship. In doing so, Cena earned the title of World Champion for the 16th time, tying a record previously held only by the legendary “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Given Cena’s place in WWE history at this point, that would all be well and good were it not for one problem—he lost the belt a whole two weeks later in an Elimination Chamber match he was only marginally involved in. Instantly, what should have been a historic accomplishment revealed itself as completely meaningless, cutting off the momentum built by Styles just so Cena could cheapen what should be a historic accomplishment. The worst part of it all is that we have to imagine it’s only going to get worse from here since modern WWE seems to think pointless records are a good thing.
10 WHY HE WON’T: There Are More Records For Him To Pointlessly Beat
Speaking of WWE’s love of breaking records for absolutely no reason, the surprising truth is that there are still quite a few accomplishments Cena has yet to achieve in the company. For one, despite his 14 years on top of WWE, Cena has never won the Intercontinental Championship, let alone come near to doing so. Of course, neither did Bruno Sammartino and Hulk Hogan, but these guys didn’t need any secondary titles at all, and Cena’s runs with the United States gold prove he doesn’t see himself above them. Cena has also only held various Tag Team Championships a mere four times with four different partners, hardly a significant feat. Steve Austin has won more Royal Rumbles and multiple men have been WWE Champion longer in terms of days—there’s plenty more for Cena to do should the company continue desperately looking for them. On the other hand…
9 WHY HE SHOULD RETIRE: There’s Nothing Left For Him To Prove
Sure, Cena could win a few more Royal Rumbles, get another couple pointless runs with the WWE Championship, or maybe revive the King of the Ring just for a cursory day on the throne, and the company would be able to milk the hell out of it for a few advertising dollars. That said, would anybody actually benefit from this happening? In fact, is there anything at all Cena could do inside a wrestling ring that would positively impact his legacy at this point? The man is already called the greatest WWE superstar in history by his fans, and nothing is going to get detractors to change their minds anymore, so there’s literally nothing else for Cena to accomplish in a meaningful manner. Granted, if Cena were content losing most of his matches and genuinely putting over his opponents, this might not be a concern. Unfortunately, that’s not what he does nor what WWE wants him to do.
8 WHY HE WON’T: He Gets Full-Time Pay For Part-Time Work
As the most famous pro wrestler in the world today, it’s only fair John Cena is also the highest-paid wrestler in the WWE Universe. The only person whose salary comes close to Cena’s is Brock Lesnar, who likewise has a short schedule and is open about why he chooses to keep it. In Lesnar’s words, he gets full-time pay for part-time work, and Cena is pretty much in the same situation these days. Of course, it would be fair to point out Cena isn’t exactly using the downtime in the same way as Lesnar, constantly working for outside mediums rather than simply relaxing with his family somewhere in the woods. At the same time, though, it isn’t hard to figure out why anyone in their situation would appreciate it. While Lesnar wants a nest egg to allow his laid-back lifestyle, Cena wants to make lots of money fast so he has time to pursue outside interests. Either way, it’s hard to blame them for keeping it up.
7 WHY HE SHOULD RETIRE: He Could Make Way More Money With Movies
For as cushy as John Cena’s current financial situation looks, all it takes is one counterexample to realize he could be making a whole lot more. To get an idea of what else Cena could be doing with his time, look no further than the previous most popular wrestler in the world today prior to Cena’s rise. Around the same time Cena started appearing in WWE, his future rival, The Rock, was gradually transitioning out of the ring and onto the big screen with Hollywood films. It took The Rock a few years to fully establish himself as an action star, but at this point, he’s making boatloads more money than any mere professional wrestler could ever imagine. On top of that, Rock is doing even less work, at least in terms of how strenuous it is—let’s face it: acting isn’t as physical as a 15-minute wrestling match, no matter what the role. Cena is definitely most likely to follow in Rocky’s footsteps out of any active wrestler, but the question remains if he would even want to make the jump.
6 WHY HE WON’T: He Still Makes WWE More Money Than Anyone Else
Regardless of how much money John Cena himself makes by working for WWE, the fact remains he brings in more money for the company than any other active superstar. Considering how long he’s been around, Cena is pretty close to the top of the list of highest-earning wrestlers in the history of the business, with the only people coming close to his status those who were around way longer than him. Whether he’s around or not, Cena’s merchandise sales blow everyone else on the roster out of the water, and he remains the face of the company’s advertising whenever available. Not even Brock Lesnar comes close to Cena in terms of bringing in mainstream attention, as Brock's character is far less marketable through toys, trinkets, towels, or whatever the hell else Cena feels like hawking at the time.
5 WHY HE SHOULD RETIRE: Someone New Needs To Take Over
Throughout wrestling history, and especially that of WWE, Vince McMahon has consistently made the same mistake when attempting to make new stars. In fact, almost every promoter in the business has done it at least once. It’s almost impossible for a new franchise player to present himself when the old one is still around, and for this reason, neither Roman Reigns nor any other wrestler will be able to usurp Cena’s throne as Face of WWE until he stops making appearances. This happened back in the ‘80s when McMahon tried making Ultimate Warrior a star despite Hulk Hogan sticking around, this happened again when Triple H was trying to assert himself as the top athlete despite The Rock and Steve Austin still occasionally wrestling, and this will continue happening to Reigns until Cena is gone for good. On the other hand, if it means Reigns fading away, maybe we’d prefer that Cena stay put for now…
4 WHY HE WON’T: It Could Affect His Charity Efforts
In addition to being a world-class pro wrestler, a burgeoning Hollywood star, and a reality game-show host, John Cena is also rightfully lauded as one of the most charitable men in show business today. Chief amongst Cena’s efforts towards generosity is the fact he has made more dreams come true for the Make-A-Wish foundation than any other celebrity. Generally speaking, Cena loves working with young children and giving them something to live for in the harshest of circumstances, something he displays in many of his catchphrases and merchandise. Obviously, the vast majority of the kids who want to see Cena are big-time wrestling fans hoping to meet their hero, and in order to maintain that status, Cena needs to wrestle a match every now and again. In this sense, there’s definitely something munificent about his desire to stay active and keep bringing smiles to children’s faces.
3 WHY HE SHOULD RETIRE: Fans Have Been Sick Of Him For Years
It’s all well and good to say half of the WWE Universe hates John Cena and acts like that’s a good thing because at least they’re reacting, but maybe it would be reasonable to take a second and think about why so many people hate the man’s guts. First and foremost, we have to acknowledge that the hatred directed towards John Cena has almost nothing to do with what happens inside a wrestling ring, at least not on paper. Cena is presented as the biggest Superhero babyface of all time, which, in theory, should make fans cheer him in his every action. Unfortunately, Cena is so stale and forgettable in this role that fans simply don’t care to watch him perform it. In essence, he’s bad at his job of being a sympathetic hero. If nothing else, his skills at performing the role have dramatically diminished. It’s only going to get worse the more WWE keeps him around, and before long, there might not be any fans left buying into his schtick at all.
2 WHY HE WON’T: He Genuinely Loves WWE
Forget about everything stated in this article, check out absolutely any interview with John Cena about how he feels about his job, and the reason he’s going to keep doing it forever should pretty much speak for itself. The man absolutely adores professional wrestling and WWE, specifically, and has many times over openly claimed a willingness to do whatever it takes to keep the brand successful and lucrative for as long as possible. Part of why Cena haters don’t like him is related to this very fact, as he seems entirely willing to buy into whatever corporate-speak nonsense the company is shilling at the time, from the PG ratings to his own status as a “goody two shoes Superman.” It should be clear by now that Cena walking away from WWE could seriously hurt the company, and it’s unlikely he would ever knowingly allow the company he loves to go through that sort of trauma.
1 WHY HE SHOULD RETIRE: It’s Time To Move On
John Cena made his television debut on June 27, 2002. Less than three years later, he won his first WWE Championship at WrestleMania 21. 12 years after that, he set the record with 16 World Championships, though as should be clear by now, each subsequent victory meant a little bit less than the last. Quite frankly, John Cena has done it all, has nothing left to accomplish, and simply needs to move on with his life and career. While a handful of wrestlers have only improved after the age of 40, Cena’s schedule is too busy for him to be one of those lucky few, and it’s all going to be downhill from here. The options for Cena aren’t to burn out or fade away; his choice is between a graceful exit at a point that will solidify him a legend forever and vastly overstaying his welcome. Why would anyone choose the latter?