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“Born So Large” Shaquille O’Neal, Who Was Once Enticed by WWE Legend, Hangs John Cena’s Helplessness Online

Published 10/01/2023, 11:36 PM EDT

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In case you thought Shaquille O’Neal is too big for anything, he is out to prove everyone wrong. He threw it back to the time he took a joyride with a WWE superstar and actor for Internet hilarity. All it does is remind us that Big Diesel goes way back with the charismatic John Cena. Their friendship is so thick that Cena was this close to launching Shaq’s alternate career.

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Instead of seeing these two meet up in the ring, we saw them squeezed into a car too tiny to hold titans of such magnitude. Despite the obvious trouble, they proved they’re the perfect mix.

Shaquille O’Neal relives carpooling with John Cena


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Between their respective hectic schedules and bustling city traffic, Shaquille O’Neal and John Cena teamed up to get to work on time and entertain people on the way. Six years after they were carpool buddies, Shaq saw the opportunity to relive the wonderful memories with his longtime friend.

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The Los Angeles Lakers star shared a Reel on his Instagram Stories to remind us that he once appeared on Carpool Karaoke. His driving buddy was Cena, who was left traumatized by the 7’1″ stature. A little over six feet, the face of the WWE can’t be considered small himself. Yet somehow, Apple TV decided to put them in a compact smart car in 2017.


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Shaq had his doubts but Cena was confident they could both squeeze in. “You open it, it’s got room,” was Cena’s philosophy. He was soon eating his words.

The wrestler got in first and Big Diesel attempted to get in, making Cena face the brunt of his enormous stature. To his credit, he tried to encourage Shaq. “You know, just bend a little bit,” he advised the former NBA center. He would contradict his 2017 self four years later while praising Shaq. “It’s a shame that you were born so large and so gifted on the basketball court because you could have been something in WWE.” 

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When O’Neal was inside the car and he shut the door, the entire situation had Cena bursting into laughter. His own broad shoulders were folded and Shaq couldn’t accommodate him even if he wanted to. Even though Shaq said they needed a bigger car, Cena insisted, “No, no, I think we can make it work.”

The Carpool Karaoke was complemented with a throwback to the time Shaq was seen zipping through New York traffic in his own tiny smart car. He hilariously made it look like a cartoon car by proving he can drive one if he doesn’t have a hulking WWE wrestler with him. That wouldn’t be the only time Cena’s convincing power has got to Shaq.


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John Cena’s friendship with the Big Aristotle

Shaquille O’Neal is one of those NBA stars with a huge love of wrestling. He’s had both in-ring and outside appearances in wrestling promotions in the past. It didn’t deter John Cena from trying to book him for a regular wrestling gig.

Cena was opposite Shaq during a 2021 appearance on NBA on TNT. Both hyped each other’s contributions to sports entertainment when Cena hinted that WWE will always have a spot for Big Aristotle’s wrestling debut.


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While that dream didn’t pan out, they were a hit on Carpool Karaoke. With singing chops and the ability to fit in small spaces, it’s appalling that Shaquille O’Neal and John Cena didn’t get the casting call for Cats the Musical.

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Written by:

Caroline John


One take at a time

Caroline John is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. She has been covering athletes outside the sports arena since the start of her reporting career. A writer at heart, she graduated with a degree in journalism from a reputed university.
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Edited by:

Pragya Vashisth