It has been more than a decade since John Cena and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson faced off in a pair of WrestleMania matches influenced by Cena’s frustrations with Johnson leaving WWE behind for Hollywood. Now, with Cena taking the same path, he says he was a “hypocrite.”
“I got selfish, and me living WWE at the point and not having any concept of growth or someone else’s perspective, I took Dwayne’s comments as not genuine,” the 15-time WWE champion said on the Happy Sad Confused podcast. “My view was, if you love something, be there everyday. What a hypocrite I am, because I still love WWE and I can’t go all the time. And I just didn’t see that, I was so selfish.”
Back in 2008, during the height of Cena’s run as a perennial WWE Championship contender, he said in an interview with British tabloid The Sun that while he believed Johnson was a “fantastic human being,” he didn’t understand how the “Scorpion King” star could say he was still passionate about wrestling when he hadn’t appeared in a WWE ring for years.
“He, at one point, loved wrestling and wanted to do this all of his life,” Cena said. “Explain to me why he can’t come back for a 15th Anniversary show or why he can’t make an appearance at Wrestlemania. Simply put it’s because he wants to be an actor. There’s nothing wrong with that…Just don’t f–k me around and tell me that you love this when you are just doing this to do something else. That’s the only thing that gets me really pissed off.”
In 2011, Johnson made his long-awaited return to WWE as The Rock and entered a feud with Cena that saw him defeat Cena at WrestleMania in 2012 and win the WWE Championship in 2013 before losing it to Cena in a Mania rematch. During that feud, Cena cut promos in the ring influenced by his real-life comments questioning The Rock’s commitment to wrestling, even calling out people like Johnson’s producing partner and manager Hiram Garcia, whom he called “the guy I have to talk to to talk to the other guy to get even close to Dwayne.”
The promos were a hit with fans, but created backstage animosity between the two men.
“I wanted a main event marquee match because it would better what I thought was the business. And that’s so short-sighted and selfish,” Cena said on Happy Sad Confused. “It worked, but it worked at the cost of two people who communicated and almost put it in jeopardy. And there was a moment where there was a lot of bad vibes between us, and rightfully so.”
Today, Cena is 46 years old, five years older than Johnson was when he returned to WWE. Since 2019, Cena’s appearances in WWE have become sporadic as he has transitioned to a film career in which he’s landed roles in HBO Max’s “Peacemaker” and in the new film “Fast X.”
Cena did have a match at this year’s WrestleMania with up-and-coming wrestler Austin Theory, but the match was a show opener that lasted just over 11 minutes, less than half the time the 23-minute main event matches he put on with The Rock in 2013 and with current WWE Champion Roman Reigns in 2021.
In an interview with Busted Open Radio earlier this week, Cena admitted that his time in the ring may be at an end, despite his desire to keep performing in WWE.
“I wish I was still there every day. My body can’t do it anymore, and I don’t want to give the consumer a bad product,” he said.
But now, there is a possibility that Cena and Johnson may share the screen for the first time, as a post-credits scene in “Fast X” showed Johnson’s return as Luke Hobbs. With both men now part of the “Fast & Furious” series, they may end up racing muscle cars together as the franchise prepares to release its final installments in the coming years…though anyone who has seen “Fast X” knows that the series might have to do some of its signature narrative swerves to make that happen.
You can watch the entire interview with Cena by clicking here. The conversation switches to his relationship with Johnson around the 18:29 mark.