Wrestling Personalities Who Had Heat With John Cena

John Cena is one of the greatest WWE superstars of all time, and is certainly the most successful of the modern era. John Cena's run on top of WWE has lasted over 15 years and even though he taken a more part time schedule to pursue a Hollywood career, Cena has given off no hints of an in-ring retirement just yet.

With a dominant run on top of WWE, it can be no surprise that John Cena may have made some enemies along the way. His WWE character was always a beacon of light, he never gave up, he represented hustle, loyalty, and respect, and was a babyface through and through. However, there are numerous stories out there which project a darker light on the man that John Cena really is. While some of these stories could be attributed to sour grapes from wrestlers who couldn't reach the heights that he did, there are some stories which portray John Cena as far away from his wrestling character as humanly possible. 

The Rock

The feud between John Cena and The Rock was one for the ages, and currently stands as the most successful WrestleMania main event of all time in terms of PPV buys. The feud was legendary, and that was in part due to how the two men used their real life animosity to further the feud. Their hostility had begun long before their WrestleMania rivalry, as John Cena had openly questioned The Rock's love for the business in shoot interviews years prior, implying The Rock was just using WWE to catapult himself into Hollywood.

When The Rock did return to WWE, he openly buried John Cena in his first promo back. That was probably kayfabe, but as the feud continued more and more shoot comments started to happen, Cena would even call out The Rock for having notes on his arm during an in-ring promo, in which The Rock looked visibly irritated at.

The Rock even claimed that the two almost came to blows backstage, saying their tension was making a lot of people uncomfortable behind the scenes. According to referee Mike Chioda, John Cena was upset about having to lose his first match with The Rock, claiming he has worked too hard to lose to a part timer.

In recent years, Cena has admitted he was wrong in his hatred towards The Rock. Cena would also go on to do everything he says he hated The Rock for by going to Hollywood and becoming a part-time WWE superstar.

Mr. Kennedy

Mr. Kennedy had a memorable run in WWE, but the backstage heat Kennedy acquired during that run appeared to be the reason he left WWE while still in his prime. Kennedy famously had heat with Randy Orton, though Mr. Kennedy also had heat with John Cena during that time as well.

The heat between Mr. Kennedy and John Cena came from a match the two had in 2007, in which Kennedy encouraged the fans to boo Cena. Jim Ross explained the situation on his podcast "Grilling JR" (h/t gerwick.net) saying, "Yeah it did ruffle Cena's feathers. Cena took it personally and thought, 'OK, enough is enough.'"

JR would go on to explain why it was a bad call on Kennedy's part: "To encourage the audience by your rhetoric to boo the appointed #1 babyface in the company is not wise. So he was just being a heel, being his excuse, is a weak ... excuse. That's my take on that deal. You don't do anything to chip away at the image or the standing of a John Cena in this case, or anyone else in that top babyface role. You just don't do it. It's counterproductive. It's not being cute, it's not being funny, it's not just being a heel."

On the "Two Man Powertrip" podcast in 2022, Mr. Kennedy said he had spoken to Randy Orton and had squashed their beef, but hasn't spoken to Cena to squash theirs.

Alex Riley

Alex Riley looked to be on course for big things in WWE. After he turned on The Miz, he received a huge reaction from the crowd, and it seemed he was ready for a main event push. That main event push never happened and John Cena was apparently the reason.

There were stories of John Cena not liking Alex Riley as soon as Riley hit the main roster. The most famous reason for their beef happened at Royal Rumble 2012, when Alex Riley accidentally got himself eliminated from the match before he could do his planned spots with Cena later in the match.

In an interview with Chris Van Vliet, Riley spoke of the heat, saying, "I think it came down to, at the end, two men just not liking each other. As sad as that is, it had an impact on my career because he is who he is. I just happened to be in a situation where, right from the start, it was just ... he didn't like me."

Riley says he tried to make amends with Cena, but to no avail: "There was one mistake that either I made, or he made, where we got really crossed. And we kind of got into a little bit of an argument ... I went to him immediately the next day and tried to apologize for whatever had happened. I think he was pretty offended."

Gabbi Tuft

While presenting as a man, Gabbi Tuft wrestled in WWE as Tyler Reks. Her finisher in WWE was the Burning Hammer and many thought the way she did the move was similar to the way John Cena did the Attitude Adjustment. When Cena first saw how Tuft used the Burning Hammer, he wasn't happy.

Speaking to Wrestling Inc in 2014, Tuft said of the Burning Hammer, "I'd been using it for 8 months on Superstars and everything before all this. I come backstage happy after a good match with Eddie all excited and John grabs me in front of everyone and says, 'What do you think you're doing? I thought I told you to get a new finisher.' I said, 'yeah, I thought you were joking John. We hit it wrong last night. I'm really sorry.' He started yelling at me asking who gave me permission to use that. He belittled me, called me an idiot, and asked me if I enjoyed working here. I told him of course I do. He told me, 'Find another finisher or you're fired.' I was humiliated ... why can't we talk about this like human beings?"

Tuft tried to apologies afterwards but Cena still didn't let it go, humiliating Tuft once more. "He and I never really talked after that," Tuft said, adding how Cena made her feel like a child.

Wade Barrett

One of the most infamous moments of the SuperCena era was at SummerSlam 2010 when John Cena essentially beat The Nexus single-handedly. The moment was hated by fans and even WWE superstars, as Edge and Chris Jericho both fought against Cena's complete burial of a hot new act. Wade Barrett, the leader of The Nexus, seemed on the cusp of greatness and could have easily become a fresh new main event heel had The Nexus been booked stronger.

Wade Barrett fueled speculation of backstage heat between him and John Cena in 2011 during an interview with M94.5, when he said, "Then there are guys like John Cena who I don't get along with. It just so happens that he's not a personality that I get on with very well, in or out of the ring."

Barrett reiterated these claims in a 2014 interview with DNA India, saying, "He has been the face for ten years, and he's really good at what he does. But everyone knows that I don't like John Cena, and he doesn't like me either. You're right, he does get booed by a lot of fans, a lot of people don't like him. But he sells a lot more t-shirts and other merchandise than anyone else. So there are a lot of people out there who like him too. Either way everyone has an opinion about him, I respect that. Personally I don't like him and he doesn't like me, we are not friends."

Chavo Guerrero

Over the years there has been a number of occasions when Chavo Guerrero has talked down to John Cena. In 2011, Chavo went to Twitter to voice his distain, asking fans if they are tired of John Cena, to which he received an overwhelming response from fans saying they were indeed tired of him. Chavo would then compare himself to Cena, saying, "Now, my opinion...Cena is better than me on the mike, but I could out wrestle Cena with my eyes closed and 1 hand tied behind my back! Truth!"

In an interview with Fox New Latino (via Bleacher Report) in 2014, Chavo continued to insult to Cena's wrestling ability saying, "If he can't wrestle, then he can't wrestle, you know? Very, very few and far between do we get a Triple H or a Rey Mysterio, a Randy Orton. That doesn't happen too much anymore. It's very few and far between. You can tell who's making John Cena look good."

Another tweet made by Chavo in 2011 said, "If Cena brakes [sic] the great Ric Flair's 16 time champ record, I will never watch wrestling again. I call a boycott of Cena matches if he does!" 

Cena would go on to equal Flair's record in 2017, though it appears Chavo Guerrero still watches wrestling nevertheless.


On "Conversation With The Big Guy" (via Yahoo News) Ryback would shoot on John Cena and claimed that Cena had been a "piece of s***" to him ever since day one.

Ryback would make claims that Cena was poisonous to the wrestling business, saying, "This is my opinion, but I think I'm pretty accurate on this. I think he did so much harm for so long to new talent that was breaking out up there and I had my experiences up there and other talent had their experiences."

Ryback claimed Cena had a problem with the huge reactions Ryback was getting during his undefeated streak and says Cena worked to have him moved down the card. Ryback even made the bizarre claim that the only reason Triple H started "NXT" was to protect young guys from being buried by Cena: "I think Hunter finally had to say, 'what the f*** do I need to do?' And I think he started with the NXT thing and bring up all these NXT guys and protecting the f*** out of them. There [are] so many guys now that John just can't f****** pick his battle with one guy because there are nine other guys that are hot on his [heels]. Do you know what I mean? And he [has] been surpassed now and so Hunter's brilliant if that's what he did to get rid of the f****** Cena problem."

Mickie James

In 2008, it came out that John Cena and Mickie James were in a relationship. Not too long after this news, John Cena announced that he was engaged to his high school sweetheart Elizabeth Huberdeau, who he would marry in May 2009. In October 2009, Mickie James was moved from "Raw" over to "SmackDown." It was reported at the time by Dave Meltzer (via Wrestling-Edge) that this was because Mickie James couldn't handle that John Cena had broken up with her, and that she was annoying certain people backstage on "Raw" because she was too emotional over the break up. 

Over the years, it appears any tension between John Cena and Mickie James has faded away as they both worked on the "SmackDown" brand in 2016. On "Making Their Way To The Ring" (via comicbook.com) James acknowledged the relationship and said she looked forward to working with Cena's then-girlfriend Nikki Bella, "We're all adults, and you know obviously this business is what it is. We've all had our share of relationships failed. I think that being adults and being professionals ... I would hope that, and I'm pretty sure that it's going to be pretty awesome, because I'm sure that I'm going to have to work with Nikki in the ring and I know that we could do some really amazing stuff."

Kenny Dykstra

Another element of the relationship between Mickie James and John Cena was Kenny Dykstra. Dykstra was dating Mickie James before the John Cena relationship came out and Dykstra says he found out that Mickie was cheating on him with Cena when he found her searching online about rumors of her dating Cena. When he confronted her, Dykstra says Mickie broke down in tears and admitted everything. Dykstra also claims that Cena was cheating on Elizabeth Huberdeau with Mickie James.

Dykstra claims that he was moved to "Smackdown" earlier in the year so that Cena and Mickie could continue to fool around on "Raw," saying on Twitter in 2012, "[Cena] was messing with MJ so I got moved to 'SmackDown' so they could further mess. I jobbed, got fired. When MJ got crazy because he wouldn't date her, she then got fired. Weird biz huh? She got title, on TV show while with him. Serves her well though."

Continuing, Dykstra said, "She wanted to date him, he said no, she flipped out backstage which led to her demise." Dykstra says he reported Cena and James' secret relationship to WWE management which pissed off John Cena even more, "I made mention of him sleeping with MJ and he probably thought I wouldn't say anything. But I did and he is mad. I guess."

Chris Masters

Chris Masters seemed destined for big things during his time with WWE, with his rise through the ranks happening around the same time that John Cena was in his first WWE Championship reign. However, according to Masters, he felt that Cena didn't want to work with him and says that Cena was vocal about not liking his work.

Speaking on the "Two Man Powertrip" podcast, Masters said, "I just don't think John was too big on working with me at the time. I think it was just a little more difficult for us to have good matches with each other. With Cena and me, we never got a good rhythm in terms of our working. That was probably my fault, but it's hard to say for sure. I just remember that there were some times where Cena had voiced displeasure in my work. It's just, I think that I had some issues too, around that time. So maybe that contributed to some of that, who knows for sure, but for whatever reason, I just felt like Cena just didn't take too much pleasure working with me and maybe he felt like I didn't give him enough of a chance, so I don't know."

Freddie Prinze Jr.

Freddie Prinze Jr. worked behind the scenes for WWE in 2008-2012. Years later on his podcast "Wrestling With Freddie," Prinze revealed that when he was working for WWE, John Cena had a dislike for him. Prinze Jr. said, "I've always said I respected John, even though he didn't like me whilst I was there because I was an actor, which he is now. But I always respected him, because John was willing to wear the crown during the G-rated era, and that was a crown that no top guy wanted."

Prinze explained one incident in which he was leading an acting class and had Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins performing a scene from "Bad Boys." Cena apparently crashed into the scene, set up a folding chair between Ryder and Hawkins and sat between them, effectively ending the class. When Prinze Jr. took Cena outside to explain what the class was about, Cena said, "Look, maybe I'm a Neanderthal but I just don't see how any of this s*** works."

Prinze replied, "Hey man, not everybody can do what you do. I'm trying to get them to a level where you're at, or close to it, because if I don't, who the hell is!?" Cena then shrugged his shoulder before leaving by saying, "Hey man, it's not like you're helping them out?" 

Prinze also said that John Cena would routinely call him Ashton Kutcher, purposefully getting his name wrong to show disrespect.

CM Punk

During CM Punk's Pipe Bomb promo, he famously said to John Cena, "I don't hate you, John. I don't even dislike you. I do like you. I like you a hell of a lot more than I like most people in the back. I hate this idea that you're the best."

Freddie Prinze Jr. said on his podcast "Wrestling With Freddie" (via WrestleTalk) that things were a little more complicated than that. Prinze says that while Punk didn't hate John Cena personally, he hated everything he represented — the superhero character that always wins and that the company never tried anything different with it. "Punk hated John Cena," said Prinze. "Not hated him, but hated what he represented and that's what the company was behind. I remember one time Hunter [Triple H] saying, 'As different as they are, the reason he hates John so much is because he knows if he was in that same spot, he would act the exact same way.' This is over a decade ago, and to hear the rumblings of AEW basically saying he's acting the way John Cena did back then is just like, I mean, damn near everything I disagreed with Hunter on, he was right. He just knows, man."