“He was making it abundantly clear that he was going into this gritting his teeth the whole way,” the source says about Cena, 40. “Nikki is an amazing, talented, strong, one-of-a-kind woman. Anyone would be lucky to have her in their life — yet John acted more and more like he was doing her a favor by somehow conceding to go ahead and marry her,” the source shares.
“[Nikki] doesn’t need a pity proposal, a pity wedding, a pity husband. She’s a phenomenal, tremendous woman,” the source says.
Bella and Cena announced that they’ve called off their engagement Sunday, a year after he proposed during WrestleMania 33. The couple was scheduled to marry on May 5 during their planned destination wedding.
The Blockers actor had been vocal about not wanting to get married and have children before eventually popping the question.
“It’s hard for anyone not to wonder why he did it, and did it in this hugely public way, in the literal arena where he is most popular,” the source says. “He knew exactly what sort of response he would get by doing that.”
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For years, the wrestlers struggled to connect when it came to their future as parents, which ultimately greatly affected their relationship.
“All the subtle and not so subtle ways he kept referencing what hard work it was to be in a relationship, all the ways he never wanted to change, how they didn’t need to see each other than often, etc.—it was just so hurtful,” the source says about Cena discussing their romance while promoting his film Blockers.
RELATED VIDEO: John Cena and Nikki Bella End Engagement Weeks Before Destination Wedding
Their relationship — as well as their discussions about marriage and kids — has been documented on the hit E! reality shows Total Divas and Total Bellas.
“I do want to be a mom,” Bella told Cena in 2013 on Total Divas. “I feel like I’d be missing out.”
“I’m going to choose my words carefully,” Cena replied. “I can’t give you that.”
Total Bellas returns May 20 at 9 p.m. ET on E!