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John Cena Confesses He’s Working On an "Exit Strategy" From WWE

According to John Cena himself, the 16-time WWE Champion is formulating a permanent exit from sports entertainment.

By Chris Phelan
John Cena throwing up the peace sign while in the ring

There's a reason why the WWE Universe has anointed John Cena as the "Greatest of All Time" – his career has been the stuff of legends, and no single Superstar has put the WWE on his back and carried the company more than the man himself.

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Arguably, every significant WWE moment (save for a few exceptions, like Brock Lesnar ending The Undertaker's WrestleMania streak in 2014) of the last two decades has had John Cena prominently involved. Countless microphone moments, shocking title matches, and historic backstage interactions have involved Cena. In fact, he was part of what many in the WWE Universe believe is the greatest match of the 21st century: Cena's WWE Championship title defense against CM Punk in 2011:

But, like all good things, it seems that John Cena's in-ring WWE career may be coming to an end sooner rather than later.

During a recent interview with PEOPLE, the Superstar candidly acknowledged his career winding down. The WWE Universe will be stunned to know that John Cena intends to hang up his boots sooner rather than later.

John Cena Reveals He's Working on a WWE Exit Strategy

Close up of John Cena's face

"I turned 47 this past year and I don't have much time left in the WWE," he confessed.

Interestingly enough, Cena revealed he has been working on an exit strategy for more than two years, as he had always targeted the age of 45 as when he would contemplate stepping away from WWE for good. 

RELATED: John Cena Hypes Up Extra-Special Episode of NXT: "Do Not Miss Tuesday Night"

"I wouldn't be who I am — professionally or personally — without the WWE, and I promised myself that I would never simply just be there for my own sake," Cena stated. "Every time I perform, I want to give my all to the audience. And I've got to admit when I hit the 45 mark, I had to begin to try to form an exit strategy and I'm trying to work on that currently."

It's a safe bet that the next time the WWE Universe sees John Cena on Raw or SmackDown, it'll be to kickstart a storyline that will eventually see Cena retiring – a bittersweet realization for any fan. However, one question remains: How does John Cena envision his last moments in WWE playing out?

Thankfully, he gave some insight. 

How Will John Cena's WWE Career End?

John Cena Month2

"I just want to do what's best for the company," Cena admitted. "If it's a big final match or if it's just a final match, or however I can be integrated into the product to let everyone know that this chapter is over, I'm willing to listen to what WWE has to say."

That's a reasonably loaded statement; while it's clear that WWE will want to capitalize on the publicity surrounding a potential John Cena retirement match, Cena's schedule will ultimately be what dictates whether the WWE Universe will enjoy a dramatic retirement storyline that goes through many twists and turns (like Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair enjoyed) or a meandering, abrupt storyline that plagued WWE Hall of Famers' retirements like Kurt Angle

One thing seems certain, however: John Cena is aware of the allure of an official "John Cena Retirement Match." That's a good omen for the future. And although he's making peace that the end is drawing near, Cena confessed the amount of time and energy he personally invested over the years will make it hard to finally walk away.

"When you have a certain amount of fluency and you're fortunate enough to have a long career in something like wrestling and you gain that, I guess you'd say 10,000 hours of mastery, it is tough to step away because you've invested so much of yourself in it," he said.

John Cena is Open to Being a Mentor to Younger WWE Superstars

John Cena performing his signature move, "Attitude Adjustment" on another wrestler

Thankfully for the WWE locker room, Cena intends to make himself available to the next generation of talent, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we're sure dozens of Superstars would jump on. 

"I do have almost two and a half decades of wisdom built up where I think I can offer a mentor perspective for sure," Cena revealed. "So, if I am not integrated with the WWE family moving forward and in perpetuity, then I think it's a waste for everyone involved."

That's more good news for the WWE Universe – it sounds like Cena fully intends to follow in the footsteps of The Undertaker as a permanent ambassador of sorts to WWE, even in retirement. 

John Cena is Looking Ahead to a Post-WWE Life and Career

John Cena on Hart To Heart

If you count Cena's pre-WWE days, his stellar wrestling career has been going strong for 25 years (since 1999). Any WWE fan knows the importance of longevity in professional wrestling before – it helps cement a legacy that fans will remember forever.

"Most athletes' careers last three-to-five years," Cena acknowledged. "We're talking 20 years here for me. So, you've got to ask yourself, like, what else do I know? What else do I want to pursue? What else am I curious about? I have been fortunate to be able to open up a whole new Pandora's box of curiosity and things that I'm interested in."

Opening Pandora's box has led Cena to the bright lights of Hollywood; he's successfully followed in the footsteps of previous WWE Superstars-turned-box-office-draws like The Rock and Dave Bautista. Although only the most jaded fans will fault Cena for finally retiring in favor of a career that will do noticeably less damage to his body, there's a worry within him that fans won't acknowledge everything he's done for WWE for over two solid decades. 

When it's all said and done, John Cena admitted the only thing he needs from the WWE Universe is appreciation:

"I basically just want to still leave WWE with my head up high and for the audience to be able to appreciate the effort that I've given."

Somehow, we don't think that'll be a problem. 

You can tune in to Peacock to watch WWE's Royal Rumble on January 27. In the meantime, catch up on all things WWE Universe on Peacock.

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