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John Cena Announces WWE Retirement, But It’s Not Over Yet

John Cena Announces WWE Retirement, But It’s Not Over Yet

Veteran professional wrestler and actor John Cena announced Saturday that he plans to retire at the end of 2025, marking the end of one of the most notable wrestling careers of the past two decades. But his time isn’t up yet.

Cena, a 16-time WWE world champion who made a career leap to Hollywood in the past decade, explained his plans to retire in front of thousands of people at WWE’s “Money in the Bank” event in Toronto. The statement shocked the wrestling world as Cena was not scheduled to appear on the show.

“I want to thank you,” he said told the crowdwho responded with chants of “Thank you, Cena.”

“Thank you so much for letting me play in the house that you’ve been building for all these years,” he added. “Thank you so much for your voice, because it’s really loud, and your honesty, because it’s beautifully brutal.”

Cena said he will appear on WWE’s first episode of “Monday Night Raw” on Netflix, which is set to air in January 2025 following a $5 billion deal between WWE and the streaming service. Cena said he will also be present at two of WWE’s early 2025 events, “Elimination Chamber” and the annual “Royal Rumble” (where 30 wrestlers compete in an over-the-top rope battle royale for a shot at the heavyweight title). He also plans to compete in WWE’s mega-show, “WrestleMania 41” in Las Vegas next year.

Cena said he would continue to wrestle through 2025 in total (some 30 to 40 matches, he said) and possibly take a shot at the WWE heavyweight title. If the championship were to be won again, the 47-year-old Cena, who is considered by WWE to be the “greatest of all time,” would surpass 1980s and 1990s wrestling star Ric Flair, who currently holds the joint-first place with Cena for the most world titles won.

“People say they’re going to leave, and two years later they come back. I want to set the record straight right now, I’m done. This is it,” Cena said at the press conference. “If you ever wanted to be a part of this final moment, we’re going to make it as big as we can and we’re going to fight everybody, and we hope you come out and enjoy the fun and the show.”

Fans on social media speculated that Cena could win another title to surpass Flair, with many calling the feat a fitting farewell. Others expressed sadness at the end of his career, especially since he’s been a mainstay in WWE for so long, immortalizing himself with his jean-shorts aesthetic.

“They should hang Cena’s jorts in the arena like it’s an NBA championship banner,” wrote one X user.

When asked for comment, WWE referred to Saturday’s press conference.

Cena made his WWE debut in 2002 as a generic prototype wrestler. He failed to catch on with live audiences until he rebranded himself as the “Doctor of Thuganomics”, a gimmick that saw him rap about his opponents. From there, his career blossomed and he became the face of the company for over a decade.

Fans turned their backs on Cena once he reached the top of the mountain, as he won match after match and rarely lost the championship. While Cena was still a huge hero to children and young fans, many adults saw him as the embodiment of professional wrestling’s shift toward family-friendly content — a move away from the rowdier product they grew up with.

Still, he continued to headline pay-per-view events and television broadcasts, even announcing the death of Osama bin Laden at a live event.

Cena slowly stepped away from the squared circle for Hollywood with breakout performances in 2015’s “Trainwreck,” 2018’s “Bumblebee” and 2021’s “The Suicide Squad.” His appearances in the Fast and Furious franchise and his starring role in HBO’s “Peacemaker” show cemented his status in Hollywood. Since then, he’s made small cameos in hit projects like 2023’s “Barbie” (as a merman Ken doll) and a recent episode of “The Bear.” Representatives for Cena did not respond to a request for information about what Cena’s WWE retirement means for his acting career.

Meanwhile, Cena has occasionally returned to the ring to talk to the crowd or have one-off matches to help further the careers of younger prospects. Two of his more recent WWE matches included losses to rising Austin Theory and the villainous Solo Sikoa. Cena also made a brief return at WrestleMania 40, where he had a brief look and scuffle with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (a throwback to their matches in 2011 and 2012).

Cena has hinted for months in various interviews that he plans to retire from professional wrestling in the near future, as his age and acting schedule prevent him from appearing consistently. While the official announcement came as a surprise to many, Cena told the live audience that the “Money in the Bank” event was the right time to announce his departure.

“Why now? Because the money is in the bank,” he said. “The ultimate symbol of opportunity. And this farewell doesn’t end tonight — it’s full of opportunity.”