WWE wrestler turned blockbuster movie star John Cena apologizes to The Rock for slamming the latter's move from wrestling to acting back in the day. Professional wrestlers have been trying their hand at silver screen stardom for decades now, and it's not hard to understand why, as their industry is just as much about playing a character as it is about athletic prowess. In the 1980s and early 1990s WWF golden age, multiple future Hall of Famers did their best to make it big in Hollywood, including Hulk Hogan, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Jesse "The Body" Ventura, Andre the Giant, and Terry Funk.
Yet, wrestlers becoming actors was still mostly seen as a novelty until WWE superstar Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson decided to venture into Hollywood in the early 2000s. For a while, Johnson split his time between the ring and the set, but by 2004, he left WWE, seemingly for good. While The Rock was elsewhere, a charismatic young wrestler named John Cena underwent a meteoric rise to the top of WWE, going on to headline multiple WrestleMania events, and win numerous championships. Cena would make it publicly known that he resented Johnson's exit, and felt that Johnson had ditched the business that made him a star at the first chance he got.
This real life animosity was eventually used to fuel an onscreen storyline for WWE, when The Rock finally opted to return to the ring at WrestleMania XXVIII in 2012, and ended up defeating Cena. The two men would then have a high-profile rematch the following year at WrestleMania XXIX in which Cena defeated Rock. These days, Cena and Johnson are quite friendly, with The Rock actually hiring Cena to star in a film for his production company. So, now that Cena is himself spending more time in Hollywood than he is in the ring, does he regret the hard time he gave Johnson about leaving WWE for acting? The answer is a definite yes. During a recent edition of The Gorilla Position show (via Wrestle Zone), Cena offered the following mea culpa.
I’m sorry and I was wrong. That’s the best thing I can do. [...] This is a very tough balancing act and when I called out Dwayne, I called him out because of ignorance. I called him out as someone that had tunnel vision in WWE and didn’t understand the process that when you make a movie, you are not allowed to do anything else because if you ruin this – if Seth Rollins splits my nose open over here – I can’t film the movie and there’s hundreds of other people whose financial well being depend on whether I show up to work in one piece. If I stop production, that could shut production down. That costs the movie money. It hampers the success of the movie, so once again I was foolish, selfish, and ignorant, but it made for awesome TV, so at least we’ve had that. It’s a conversation I’ve had with Dwayne multiple times and something I’m super comfortable telling any interviewer. I was ignorant. I was wrong and I’m sorry.
While Cena is set to return - at least briefly - to WWE TV once he's finished the promotional push for Bumblebee in early 2019, it remains to be seen if the 16-time WWE champion will be much of a factor next year beyond the annual "Road to WrestleMania" stretch from January to April. Cena has already sat out the majority of 2018, not wrestling on WWE TV since October's Super Show-Down event in Australia. Before that, Cena hadn't wrestled since April, defeating Triple H at the Greatest Royal Rumble show in Saudi Arabia, and getting crushed by The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXXIV.
For better or worse, Cena's growing Hollywood success has basically turned him into the exact person he criticized The Rock for being, although he does at least still turn up on WWE programming more often than the Jumanji star. Roman Reigns looked set to be WWE's heir apparent to Cena's spot at the top of the card, although he's been forced to take a leave of absence as he battles leukemia. For now, WWE fans can only wait and see who else steps up to become WWE's next poster boy.