12 Things You Didn’t Know About John Cena And Nikki Bella’s RelationshipPublished on April 19, 2018. Updated May 22, 2019
For six years John Cena and Nikki Bella were one of the WWE’s most popular couples and as they took their relationship to reality TV with Bella’s show Total Divas, fans became more and more invested in the couple and their romance. Despite sharing so much about their life on TV, it wasn’t until after their shocking and unexpected split in April 2018 that the truth about the difficulties in their relationship came out. Take a look back at the couple’s love story through the good, the bad, and the end with these 12 things you never knew about the pair and their relationship:
12. How They Met
The athletic duo began dating back in 2012, but that wasn’t the beginning of their story. For years they were around each other as both were at the peak of their wrestling careers with Nikki wrestling in tag-team matches with her twin sister Brie and Cena dominating as one of the sport’s biggest stars. Cena and Nikki were friends for quite some time before things changed after Cena’s three-year marriage to his high school sweetheart Elizabeth Huberdeau came to an end. “The first opening line was, ‘Hey, do you want to go to dinner with me?’ and I was kind of like, ‘What? With me?'” Nikki said in a 2013 interview. “It just kind of started out like a dinner date and I have to admit we were friends for so many years, but then when you make it romantic, I couldn’t even say a word to him.” Despite being nervous, Nikki said it was her “best first date” ever as they went out to dinner and “talked and chatted for hours.” Things only got better on their second date though. “We just had an amazing dance in the middle of the restaurant,” recalled Bella. “No one’s ever done that with me.”
11. Previous Relationships
While marriage was a serious point of contention in Nikki and Cena’s relationship, it turns out both had been married before to their high school sweethearts. After years together, Cena married Elizabeth Huberdeau in 2009, but the two split in 2012 and it was Cena who pulled the plug. At the time, the WWE superstar admitted he was never going to make a good husband or a father. As for Nikki, she kept her first marriage a secret for quite some time until it all came out during an episode of Total Divas in 2014. Nikki revealed, “I got married when I was 20. And got divorced at 23, to my high school sweetheart. Basically we got married by Elvis. We drove to Vegas, did it.” She also revealed she regretted it before she even made it down the aisle. “Even when I started walking down the aisle, I knew this was a huge mistake and how can I get out of it and I couldn’t. I tried to forget about it but now it’s starting to come up, and I figured you guys have to hear from me before you hear from anyone else. It’s crazy ’cause John doesn’t even know and here we talk about marriage and we never bring it up,” she told her family. Nikki’s brother, JJ Garcia, warned her that Cena was going to be mad, saying, “You don’t just run off and get married and not tell your family for 10 years. That doesn’t just happen. You do what you got to do and I hope you figure it all out with John.” Cena actually handled the news very well though, and just asked her to be more honest with him. “What you did before you met me is what you did before you met me, I don’t need to know everything about you. It’s just when you can tell other people and I kind of would like to be on that totem pole somewhere — I don’t have to be at the top … I just would like to be on it.”
10. Moving In and the Contract
Those who watched Total Divas knew all about the 75-page document John Cena made Nikki Bella sign before she could move in with him, but for others, the news only came out after the two had split. Before Bella could move into the wrestler/actor’s home, he asked her to sign a 75-page cohabitation agreement and admitted that it was “crazy” but also necessary. “I was very abrasive and stern and she had to sign this huge, crazy agreement just to come in the front door,” he told Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb on the Today show. He then revealed that Nikki signed the agreement “totally without question and it made me feel super bad, which it should have, but it also made me realize, like, this is one young woman I should not let get out of my life because she says, ‘I’m with you because I love you, here’s proof I would still like to be here.’” While many saw the move as controlling, Cena further explained on Total Divas that he only did it to protect himself and his assets because of all the people who count on him to provide for them. “You met my family. You think my mom paid for that house herself? She didn’t. My brother lives in that house, they’re expecting a child. My younger brother, he’s got medical problems. I make sure he’s okay. I always tell them, I’m a horrible brother, but I try to be the best provider that I can. I just don’t want to ever be in a position where that’s in jeopardy,” he told Nikki. After his explanation, she realized why it was important to him. “I had no idea that my man supports this many people,” she confessed. “If I had the money, I’d want to support my family, and I’d be damned to let anyone take that away from my family.”
9. Opposing Ideas
Although their relationship started off easy, as things became more serious, their differences in what they wanted in the future created more and more problems. “I’m trying to be a realist,” he said in 2014. “I’ve told you I don’t want to get married and I don’t want to have kids, and you do want to get married and you do want to have kids. I feel like there’s a time bomb over my head.” Since Nikki was so happy with John she tried to accept she would never have kids, but it alarmed her sister Brie who approached John about it. “I was abundantly clear about that from our very first date. It wasn’t like I tried to manipulate your sister into thinking a certain thing was going to happen and then all the sudden say, ‘Ha ha,'” he recounted to Brie. “I love this girl, but I love my life.” While Nikki tried to accept she would not have a family with Cena, she admitted it was not easy. “John doesn’t want to have kids, so it’s taken a lot of therapy to be OK with knowing I won’t be a mom. I’m not going to lie, there are times when I still pray that one day he’ll change his mind. But as of now, no family.”
8. The Dog
If Nikki was praying that Cena would one day change his mind about having kids, she got a wake-up call when she brought a French bulldog named Winston into their home. Cena was not thrilled about the addition and told Rolling Stone, “Look, I know I cannot handle raising a child. It’s like with the dog. My biggest thing to Nicole about the dog was: Love dogs, but I can’t contribute to taking care of one. I don’t have the time.” It was clear just having a dog was too close to having kids for Cena when he added, “And just because everyone else is happy with children doesn’t mean that’s how I have to live. I’ve been upfront about this. I just have things I need to get done. It’s not negotiable. We’ve been to therapy over it. I don’t think it will ever be over with. I’m stubborn as f— and extremely selfish as well. I don’t want kids, I don’t want marriage. That’s me just saying, ‘Hey, this is my life and this is how I’m going to live.’” Eventually, Nikki gave the dog to her sister Brie and her husband, wrestler Daniel Bryan. “Nicole’s a very busy human being who may or may not have enough time for a Frenchie as needy as Winston, so with me retired and Brie retired, we have taken over the reins of Winston,” Bryan explained at the time. Nikki added that giving Winston to her sister was especially difficult because it was as close to being a mom as she was going to get. “The other reason why it’s so hard — you have a baby, and that’s my baby,” she said, pointing to Winston. “And that’s gonna be my only baby, ever. I’m not gonna have a child, a human being, that will replace what a dog fills.”
7. The Proposal
After being adamant that marriage was not in the cards for the pair, it seems Cena’s mind on the matter slowly changed over the years and he shocked everyone, but mostly Nikki, when he proposed during Wrestlemania 33 in April 2017. After the wrestling ring proposal, Cena revealed to ESPN that he had changed his mind on marriage before Nikki underwent her neck surgery in 2016. “Right before she went into [a pre-operation], a year and a half ago, I knew she’d be out of it and I could ask her anything I wanted, and I said ‘someday I’m gonna’ marry you’…and I knew I would. I just wanted to wait for the right time,” he said.
6. The Distance
On top of being one of the WWE’s biggest stars, Cena’s acting career has been gaining more and more speed. Meanwhile, Nikki stars on Total Divas with her sister and has her own life going on, all of which made things even harder for the couple. Cena revealed that they would go quite some time without seeing each other, and it took a lot of work to stay together with so much time and space apart. “Anytime I get upset, I always just realize that I can’t live without her and I love her and that’s why I cave in on a lot of stuff. It takes being able to mesh two lives,” he revealed to Us Weekly. “She’s super busy and sometimes we don’t see each other for months at a time, but when we do see each other, it’s our time and it’s our time together. I think, for now at least, that is certainly what’s making this work.”
5. Wedding Planning
After a surprising engagement when the wrestler/actor changed his mind about marriage, it still took a long time for the actual wedding to come about. After deciding on a date and location, Bella revealed in the fall of 2017 that they had changed both things and then revealed that her stint on Dancing With the Stars delayed the wedding planning and it made it more difficult because both wanted to be very involved in the planning process. “I’m involved in every single step of the process, but I am like the last checkpoint,” Cena explained just weeks before their split. “So, let’s say, décor will be chosen. And then I’ll be given three options but be nudged to like number two. I will politely agree to number two, but I am very much actively a part of the process.”
4. Shocking Split
With their hectic schedules and Nikki coming to terms with no kids and Cena seemingly changing his mind on marriage, it seemed as though nothing could break the two apart. Theirs was a split that no one saw coming after six years together but on Monday, April 16, Nikki took to her Instagram to share a message: “After much contemplation and 6 years of being together Nikki Bella and John Cena announced today their decision to separate as a couple. While this decision was a difficult one, we continue to have a great deal of love and respect for one another. We ask that you respect our privacy during this time in our lives.” What made the split even more shocking, however, was that their entire wedding was planned and they were only weeks away from their wedding in Mexico which was supposed to happen on May 5th!
3. Nikki’s Decision
Although their initial statement said that the two had decided to end their relationship, it didn’t take long for it to be revealed that it was Nikki who decided to end things with Cena. “He was making it abundantly clear that he was going into this gritting his teeth the whole way,” a source told PEOPLE about the pair’s upcoming wedding. “Nikki is an amazing, talented, strong, one-of-a-kind woman. Anyone would be lucky to have her in their life — yet John acted more and more like he was doing her a favor by somehow conceding to go ahead and marry her.” The source added, “She doesn’t need a pity proposal, a pity wedding, a pity husband. She’s a phenomenal, tremendous woman.” Another source also spoke out saying, “She’s in a place where she’s just exhausted by some of the things going on in the relationship. John is the love of her life [and] she adores him. They still speak. It’s just very hard. But right now, she has to focus on herself.”
2. Signs of Trouble
After the shock of their separation wore off, looking back some fans noticed that maybe Cena and Bella’s separation was actually a long time coming. Along with their disagreements about big things, namely marriage and kids which fans saw play out on Total Divas, during his recent press tour for his film Blockers, the actor often discussed how difficult relationships are. “Relationships are hard. Don’t ever think that love is easy. Love is beautiful, but we’ve had to come to the realization after being together for five years that love is not easy,” Cena said. “We work every day on us. We have our problems just like everybody else. Some of our problems are very public, some of them aren’t. But we work every day on us. Anytime I get upset, I always just realize that I can’t live without her and I love her and that’s why I cave in on a lot of stuff.” According to a source close to Nikki, the comments Cena kept making while doing press started to bother her. “All the subtle and not so subtle ways he kept referencing what hard work it was to be in a relationship, all the ways he never wanted to change, how they didn’t need to see each other than often, etc.—it was just so hurtful,” the source explained.
1. Is It Really Over?
Although things came to an abrupt end, those close to the pair aren’t convinced they are broken up for good. A source said, “they could get back together in a year,” and if they did, a lot would have to change when it comes to Cena especially. “John is one of the loveliest people, but he is not open-minded,” the source told Us Weekly. “He’s controlling about everything in his life … Work always comes first … John puts a lot before Nikki.” They added that, while Bella was upset, she was “not devastated” and just “needs time to figure everything out.”