John Cena Reveals the Secret Behind Him Never Turning Heel in His 23 Year Run in WWE

Published 02/24/2024, 10:08 PM EST

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It was once said that the John Cena heel turn was like the Loch Ness monster of the WWE. It does exist, but no one knows where to find it. Since his debut in 2001, Cena has never gone full-heel like what Dwayne Johnson did back in the day or is currently doing with Cody Rhodes and The Bloodline. Fans have wondered why the WWE never turned the 16-time champ heel despite it working out great for Johnson and even Hulk Hogan. Finally, after 23 years in the company, Cena revealed the answer.

John Cena talks about the creative control he had over his character in the WWE

The Peacemaker star sat down on the Howard Stern Show to discuss his upcoming projects and the WWE. Here, Cena talked about his career and hinted that it was never his idea not to turn heel, but it came from the chief decision-makers. Cena said, “I realized it’s something that I can’t do forever, combined with the fact that I didn’t have a lot of wild creative freedom in WWE.”


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The latter part is what tipped fans off about the freedom Cena had with his character. While the Leader of the Cenation did undergo some changes while in the WWE in his prime, he was always a babyface. Johnson and Hogan were also babyfaces, but their heel turn revitalized their careers and made them more popular. Cena continued, “I had complete creative freedom over how I could curate my character, but I couldn’t turn bad. That limits what you’re capable of.”


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The choice of keeping Cena a babyface throughout his career resulted in many fans hating the gimmick. Despite his babyface status making him the face of the company, it also resulted in the “Let’s go Cena” and “Cena sucks” chants. The last time he was close to being a heel was his Doctor of Thuganomics character, played as the underdog.

However, things might look different right now with the landscape of wrestling evolving to accommodate this phenomenon.

Can The Cenation Leader turn heel now?


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With Dwayne Johnson turning heel at this stage of his career, fans speculated if the WWE would do the same with Cena. The former champ has alluded to having one last run in the company before he hangs up the boots and die-hard fans believe this could be the last time this dream could come true.

via Imago

Another minor detail is that Cena has not won a singles match in the WWE for years now. The last time he participated at Crown Jewel in 2023, he was beaten by Solo Sikoa. With years of losses and shame accumulating in his resume, the WWE icon could embrace the dark side to show off a different side of his character. Cena could even take inspiration from The Rock in leveraging his Hollywood career for heel heat in WWE. In short, this could be the moment the WWE was waiting for.


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Nevertheless, despite his recent run in the promotion, fans shouldn’t expect to see the superstar in the near future. His flourishing career in Hollywood does not lend him the time to pursue both endeavors successfully. However, upon his return from the company, WWE could shake things up by exploring an unknown side of the 16-time champion. What do you think about the WWE’s decision not to turn Cena heel? Tell us in the comments.


Written by:

Christopher Paul


One take at a time

Christopher Paul is a WWE reporter at EssentiallySports. With over eight years of experience as a writer and a childhood passion for pro wrestling, Chris is now a voice for kayfabe fans. He has a penchant for covering live events and enjoys breaking the latest developments in the WWE Universe.
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Edited by:

Amal Joyce