John Cena - Biography of WWE's Most Popular Superstar

John Cena battles Randy Orton
John Cena delivers the Attitude Adjustment to Randy Orton. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

John Cena has been the most popular and successful wrestler of the 21st century. He shot to stardom as the wrestling embodiment of the hip-hop culture. Like Enimen, John Cena used his rapping ability to insult those he doesn't like. He even personalized the WWE title into a piece of bling-bling featuring a spinning WWE logo. As the company became more child-friendly, Cena has shied away from the hip-hop and has extolled the virtues of never giving up.

Dates: April 23, 1977​ - Present​

The Beginning

John Cena was born in West Newbury, Massachusetts on April 23, 1977. As a college football player at Springfield College, he wore the number 54, which has been featured on some of his WWE merchandise. In 1999, Cena got his start in the wrestling business as part of Ultimate Pro Wrestling, a California-based wrestling school and company. While there, he was given the name of "The Prototype," where his gimmick was half-man and half-machine. The following year, he was signed by WWE's then-developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling. Before being called up to the WWE's main roster, he was on the 2001 UPN reality TV show Manhunt, which was canceled due to bad ratings and a controversy about the legitimacy of the program.

The Doctor of Thuganomics

In June 2002, he made his SmackDown debut by accepting an open challenge from Kurt Angle. The one thing he was missing was a compelling gimmick. That Halloween, he dressed like a Vanilla Ice impersonator and did his first rap. With this new hip-hop persona, he would insult the crowd before the matches by making bad raps about their city and wearing throwback jerseys of the enemies of the local sports team.

United States Champion

With the help of his gimmick and improving wrestling ability, he was in a main event title match by April 2003. That November, the inevitable face turn occurred and his career has skyrocketed since. He was involved in a feud for the US Championship with the 500+ pound Big Show. At WrestleMania XX, he won the title. Even though he wasn't the World Champion, he solidified his spot as the most popular wrestler on SmackDown.

The Champ Is Here

For the next few months, Cena was involved in feuds with Booker T and Carlito for the US title. In the beginning of 2005, he won a tournament to fight JBL for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 21. Prior to this match, he lost his US title due to the interference of JBL. Cena got his revenge by becoming WWE Champion at WrestleMania 21. He beat JBL in a rematch the next month in an I Quit Match.

From SmackDown to RAW

During the annual draft lottery, John Cena moved to RAW. This move put him into an immediate feud with Chris Jericho. Jericho has released rock albums with his band Fozzy, and Cena had just released his rap album. In this battle, hip-hop pinned rock. John Cena also started out on bad terms with GM Eric Bischoff, who vowed to do all he can to get the title off Cena and make his life miserable on Raw.

The End of an Era

Cena began feuding with Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle and also caused the firing of Eric Bischoff by beating Kurt Angle and Chris Masters. At New Year's Revolution he beat both men plus Kane, Carlito, and Shawn Michaels in an Elimination Chamber Match. Immediately following the match, Edge used his Money in the Bank Title Shot and easily beat the worn-out champ.  He regained the belt a few weeks later but later lost the title to Rob Van Dam.

The Marine and an Image Change

Shortly before the release of his movie, The Marine, John beat Edge in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Match to win the WWE Championship for a third time. Around the same time, as part of an image makeover, he backed away from the rapping and throwbacks. His third title reign lasted over a year and he lost it via forfeit due to an injury.

Neck Surgery and Return

A few months after returning from his arm injury, he suffered damage to his neck. In his first match back after having neck surgery, John won the World Heavyweight Championship for the first time by beating Chris Jericho. In early 2009, his two signature moves, the FU and STFU, were renamed the Attitude Adjustment and the STF, respectively. Since his return, he has won and lost the WWE Championship on several occasions. He is the most decorated World Champion in WWE history as he has won a world title with the company on 15 different occasions.

Outside of the Ring

In addition to being the company's biggest star in the ring, he is also their biggest ambassador outside of it as well. John Cena has granted over 500 wishes for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. After starring in a host of WWE movies, Hollywood has come calling for him. In 2015, he had roles in three Hollywood comedies (Trainwreck, Sisters, and Daddy's Home). The following year, he became the host of American Grit, a reality television show broadcast on FOX.

The Fifteen World Championship Victories

  • 4/3/05 WrestleMania 21 - beat WWE Champion JBL to become WWE champ
  • 1/29/06 Royal Rumble - beat WWE Champion Edge
  • 9/17/06 Unforgiven - beat WWE Champion Edge in a TLC Match
  • 11/23/08 Survivor Series - beat World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho
  • 4/5/09 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania - beat World Heavyweight Champion Edge & Big Show
  • 9/13/09 Breaking Point - beat WWE Champion Randy Orton in an "I Quit" Match
  • 10/25/09 Bragging Rights - beat WWE Champion Randy Orton 6-5 in an Anything Goes Iron Man Match
  • 2/21/10 Elimination Chamber - beat WWE Champion Champion Sheamus, Triple H, Randy Orton, Ted DiBiase, & Kofi Kingston in an Elimination Chamber Match
  • 3/28/10 WrestleMania XXVI - beat WWE Champion Batista
  • 5/1/11 Extreme Rules - beat WWE Champion The Miz & John Morrison in a Steel Cage Match
  • 7/25/11 RAW - beat WWE Champion Rey Mysterio
  • 9/18/11 Night of Champions - beat WWE Champion Alberto Del Rio
  • 4/7/13 WrestleMania XXIX - beat WWE Champion The Rock
  • 10/27/13 Hell in a Cell - beat World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio
  • 6/29/14 Money in the Bank 2014 - beat WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton, Kane, Roman Reigns, Cesaro, Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus, and Bray Wyatt