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John Felix Anthony Cena (born April 23, 1977) is an American professional wrestler, hip hop musician and actor. He currently works for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) as a member of the Raw brand, though is currently inactive due to a legitimate torn pectoral muscle. He was in his third reign as WWE Champion, a reign that lasted 380 days—the sixth longest reign in the title's history—before he was stripped of the title due to injury. He is also a three-time United States Champion and a one-time World Tag Team Champion.
Before being promoted to the main WWE roster, Cena trained in and wrestled for Ultimate Pro Wrestling and Ohio Valley Wrestling, holding the top titles of both promotions.
Aside from professional wrestling, Cena has released the rap album You Can't See Me, which debuted at #15 on the US Billboard 200 chart, and starred in the movie The Marine. He has also made appearances in television shows including Manhunt, Deal or No Deal, MADtv, and Punk'd. Most recently, he was a contestant on Fast Cars and Superstars: The Gillette Young Guns Celebrity Race, where he made it to the final round before being eliminated, placing third in the overall competition.
Before professional wrestling
Cena was born April 23, 1977, in West Newbury, Massachusetts the second eldest of five brothers – Dan, Matt, Steve and Sean. He graduated from Cushing Academy before attending Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts. In college he was a Division III All-American center on the football team, wearing the number 54, which is still used on some of his WWE merchandise. He graduated from Springfield in 1998 with a degree in exercise physiology pursuing a career as a bodybuilder, as well as working as a chauffeur for a limousine company.
Wrestling training Cena first started training to become a wrestler in 2000 at the California-based "Ultimate University" operated by Ultimate Pro Wrestling (UPW). Once he was placed into an in-ring role, he began using a semi-robotic character known as the The Prototype. Some of this period of his career was documented in the Discovery Channel program Wrestling School. While in UPW, Cena held the Heavyweight Championship for just shy of a month in April 2000. In 2001, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) signed him away from UPW, placing him under a developmental contract and assigning him to their "farm territory" Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), where he continued his training. During his time there, he wrestled as both The Prototype and Mr. P, and he held the Heavyweight Championship for three months and the Tag Team Championships (with Rico Constantino) for two.
World Wrestling Entertainment
Cena's first televised WWE match was in answer to a (kayfabe) open challenge by Kurt Angle on June 27, 2002. Inspired by a speech given by WWE CEO Vince McMahon to the rising stars of the company, exhorting them to show "ruthless aggression" to earn a place among the legends, Cena took advantage of the opportunity and almost beat Angle by kicking out of his Angle Slam and enduring the ankle lock submission hold. However, he ultimately lost to a hard, amateur-style pin. Following the near-win, Cena became a face and was put into a program with Chris Jericho. In October, Cena and Billy Kidman joined forces to take part in a tag team tournament to crown the first WWE Tag Team Champions of the SmackDown! brand, but lost in the first round. The next week, Cena was turned on and attacked Kidman, blaming him for their loss.
Shortly after the Kidman attack, on a Halloween themed episode of SmackDown!, Cena dressed as Vanilla Ice and performed a freestyle rap for Stephanie McMahon during a backstage segment. The next week, Cena received a new gimmick: a rapper who cut promos in rhyme. As the gimmick grew, he adopted a variant of the 80s WWF logo — dropping the "F" — as his "signature symbol", along with the slogan "Word Life". Moreover, he was joined by an enforcer, Bull Buchanan, who was rechristened B-2 (also written B² and pronounced "B-Squared"). Buchanan was later replaced by Rodney Mack under the moniker "Red Dogg", until he was sent to the Raw brand in February.
For the first half of 2003, Cena sought the WWE Championship and chased the reigning champion, Brock Lesnar, performing weekly "freestyles" challenging him to matches. During the program, Cena unveiled a new finishing maneuver: the FU, a Fireman's carry powerslam, so named to mock Lesnar's F-5. He got a match against Lesnar at April's Backlash by winning a #1 contenders tournament, but did not get the title. He finished out the year engaging in feuds with Spanky and Kurt Angle.
In early 2004, Cena participated in the Royal Rumble match at the annual January pay-per-view event, making it to the final six participants before being eliminated by the Big Show. The Royal Rumble elimination led to a feud between Big Show and Cena, during which Cena won the United States Championship from the Big Show at WrestleMania XX in March. During his reign, he came into contention with SmackDown! General Manager Kurt Angle over issues arising with René Duprée and Torrie Wilson. The reign ended just shy of four months when, on July 8, he was "stripped" of the belt by Angle after he (kayfabe, accidentally) knocked him over, thus "attacking an official". He won the title back by defeating Booker T in a "best of five" series that culminated at October's No Mercy, only to lose it to the debuting Carlito Caribbean Cool the next week. After the loss to Carlito, the duo began a feud, during which Cena was (kayfabe) stabbed in the kidney while at a Boston-area nightclub by Carlito's bodyguard, Jesús. This worked injury was used to keep Cena out of action for a month, during which Cena was actually filming his feature film debut The Marine. Immediately on his return in November, he won the US title back from Carlito, then debuted a "custom made" spinner style title belt.
Cena took part in the Royal Rumble in January 2005, this time making it to the final two. He and Raw brand wrestler Batista went over the top rope at the same time, ostensibly ending the match. However, Vince McMahon appeared on stage and re-started the match in "sudden death", with Batista eventually winning. The next month, Cena defeated Kurt Angle to earn a spot in the SmackDown! brand's WrestleMania 21 main event, beginning a feud with WWE Champion John "Bradshaw" Layfield (JBL) and his Cabinet in the process. In the opening stages of the feud Cena lost his US belt to Cabinet member Orlando Jordan, who proceeded to "blow up" the spinner version with JBL and return a more traditional style belt. When Cena and JBL met at WrestleMania, the title switched hands, giving Cena his first world title in the company. As part of the storyline, he then had a spinner WWE Championship belt made, while JBL took the original belt and claimed to still be WWE Champion, until Cena reclaimed the original belt in an "I Quit" match at Judgment Day.
Cena's SmackDown! tenure came to a close on the June 6, 2005 episode of WWE Raw, when he became the first wrestler selected by Raw brand General Manager Eric Bischoff in the annual draft lottery. Arriving on the Raw brand, Cena entered a program against Bischoff when he refused to participate in his "war" against the upcoming Extreme Championship Wrestling reunion show. With Bischoff vowing to make Cena's stint on Raw difficult, he "hand picked" Jericho to take Cena's title from him. During their feud, even though Cena was portrayed as the face and Jericho as the heel, a vocal section of live crowds nonetheless chose to boo Cena during their matches. More crowds followed suit during Cena's next feud with Kurt Angle, who took over as Bischoff's hand picked #1 contender after Cena beat Jericho in a "You're Fired" match on the August 22 Raw, sending him off the show. As the feud continued and the dissenters grew more vocal, sometimes seeming to outnumber fans by wide margins, the announce team was forced to acknowledge the boos on television and began calling Cena a "controversial champion", claiming some people disliked him on account of his "in-ring style" and his chosen fashion. Despite the mixed and negative reactions, Cena held on to his Championship through his feud with Angle, losing to him by disqualification — for which titles do not change hands in WWE — at Unforgiven in September and pinning him at Survivor Series in November. The feud with Angle also saw Cena add a secondary, submission based, finishing maneuver to his repertoire – the STFU (a Stepover Toehold Sleeper, though named for a Stepover Toehold Facelock) – when he was put into a (Triple Threat) Submissions Only match on the November 28 Raw.
Cena lost the WWE Championship at the first WWE pay-per-view of 2006, New Year's Revolution, but not in the Elimination Chamber match that he had been advertised to participate in beforehand. Instead, immediately after winning the Elimination Chamber, he was thrust into a match against Edge, who cashed in his Money in the Bank contract — a "guaranteed title match at the WWE Champion of the owners choosing" — and after two quick spears pinned Cena for the title. Cena's championship reign ended at 280 days, matching the length of previous champion JBL. Just three weeks later, Cena won the title back at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view. After winning the Championship back Cena was put in to a program with Triple H, during which the crowd again seemed to boo the intended face (Cena) and cheer the intended heel (Triple H). The negative reaction only intensified when he faced Rob Van Dam (also cashing in a Money in the Bank contract, which he won at WrestleMania 22) at One Night Stand in June. Taking place in front of a crowd of mostly "old school" Extreme Championship Wrestling fans at the Hammerstein Ballroom, Cena was met with raucous jeering and chants of "Fuck you, Cena", "You can't wrestle", and "Same old shit". When he began peppering different moves into the match the fans responded with a chant of "You still suck". Cena lost the WWE Championship for the second time in 2006 at One Night Stand, being pinned by Van Dam after interference from Edge.
In July, after Edge won the title from Van Dam in a Triple Threat match that also involved Cena, it re-ignited the feud between him and Cena from earlier in the year. After Edge went about retaining the title by dubious means — getting himself disqualified (for which Championships do not change hands), and using brass knuckles — he introduced his own version of Cena's "custom" belt, this one with his logo placed on the spinner. Cena eventually won the Championship back in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match at September's Unforgiven pay-per-view, in a match that had an added stipulation that had Cena lost he would leave the Raw brand and go to SmackDown!. He returned his version of the spinner belt on the next night's Raw. On the heels of the Edge program, Cena was placed in an inter-brand angle to determine the so-called "Champion of Champions" — or which was the most dominant champion in WWE's three brands.Cena, King Booker (SmackDown!'s then World Heavyweight Champion), and Big Show (ECW's then World Champion) engaged in a mini-feud leading to a Triple Threat match at Cyber Sunday in November, with the viewers voting on which of the three championships would be placed on the line. At the same time, Cena became involved in a storyline with non-wrestler Kevin Federline when he began appearing on Raw with Johnny Nitro and Melina. After getting into a (worked) physical altercation with Federline on Raw, Federline appeared at Cyber Sunday to hit Cena with the World Heavyweight Title belt during the main event Triple Threat match, helping King Booker retain his title. 2006 ended with Cena beginning a feud with the undefeated Umaga over the WWE Championship, while 2007 began with the end of his storyline with Kevin Federline. In the first Raw of the new year, Cena was pinned by Federline (with an assist from Umaga), although later in the night he was able to get his hands on Federline to FU him. During their feud Cena ended Umaga's "undefeated" streak at New Year's Revolution before Umaga caused a (worked) injury to Cena's spleen, putting a scheduled Last Man Standing rematch at Royal Rumble in (kayfabe) jeopardy. The match did, however, take place and Cena retained his title.
One night after the Royal Rumble, an impromptu team of Cena and Shawn Michaels defeated Rated-RKO (Edge and Randy Orton) for the World Tag Team Championship, making Cena a double champion. On the April 2 episode of Raw, after losing a WWE Championship match to Cena at WrestleMania 23, Michaels "turned" on Cena, costing them the team the Championship in the second of two 10 team battles royals by throwing Cena over the top rope and eliminating the team. The Hardys (Matt and Jeff) would eventually win the match and the title. For the rest of the month Cena feuded with Michaels, Orton, and Edge until The Great Khali declared his intentions to challenge for Cena's title by attacking and "laying out" all three of the top contenders before assaulting Cena himself and stealing the physical belt. For the next two months Cena feuded with Khali over the Championship, eventually becoming the first person in WWE to defeat him by submission at May's Judgment Day and then by pinfall at June's One Night Stand. Later that summer, prior to SummerSlam, Randy Orton was named the #1 contender to the WWE championship, starting a feud between the two. Leading up to the pay-per-view Orton delivered a number of sneak-attacks, hitting Cena with three RKOs, but in the actual match Cena retained the title, winning by pinfall. A rematch between the two occurred at Unforgiven, with Orton winning by disqualification after Cena ignored the referee's instructions and continued to beat on him in the corner.
During a match with Mr. Kennedy on the October 1, 2007 episode of Raw, Cena suffered a legitimate torn pectoral muscle while executing a hip toss. Though he finished the match and took part in the scripted following attack by Randy Orton, surgery the following day found that his pectoralis major muscle was torn completely from the bone, requiring seven months to a year rehabilitation. As a result he was stripped of the title, as announced by Vince McMahon on the next night's episode of ECW, ending what was the longest WWE Championship reign in over 19 years. His surgery was performed by orthopedic surgeon James Andrews at St. Vincent's Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama. Two weeks later, in a video update on WWE.com, Dr. Andrews and Cena's physical trainer both said that he was several weeks ahead of where he was expected to be in his rehabilitation at that time. Despite his injury, Cena attended the annual WWE Tribute To The Troops in Iraq.
Finishing and signature moves
FU (Fireman's carry powerslam) STFU (Stepover toehold sleeper) Killswitch / Protobomb (Spin-out powerbomb) Five Knuckle Shuffle (Fist drop with theatrics) Throwback (Running neck snap on a standing opponent) Freestyle / Protoplex (Jumping release fisherman suplex) Flying shoulder block Twisting belly to belly side slam Sitout hiptoss Running one-handed bulldog Diving leg drop bulldog
Signature foreign objects Steel chain Brass knuckles
The Doctor of Thuganomics The Champ The Chain Gang Soldier
Waving his hand in front of his face, horizontally, to symbolize that "You can't see me!". (2003–Present) Pumping up his Reebok Pump sneakers. (2004–2006) Putting his hands up while spreading them and putting his thumb sideways and his pinky up, meaning "Word Life". (2002–Present) "Freestyling" on his opponents before his matches. (2002–2005) Military salute to the audience. (2006–2007
Between August 2005 and December 2006 Cena hosted "Five Questions with The Champ" ("Five Questions with John Cena" while he was not champion), a weekly webcast where he answered questions e-mailed in from fans. During the segment, whenever Cena cursed an image of the Brooklyn Brawler appeared and the word was "replaced" with him saying "Brawler", "Brooklyn Brawler", "No, no, no" or "Nu-Uh!".