The actors had a long-standing, fictional rivalry in the pro wrestling franchise, but remained friends behind the scenes.
In 2011, while Johnson, now 51, was making his move to Hollywood, Cena began publicly shunning the Black Adam star for his transition, questioning whether he cared for the wrestling business.
However, Cena, 46, eventually made a similar career move and has starred in a number of blockbuster movies, including Fast X (2023) and Barbie (2023).
During a recent press conference for WWE’s 2023 Fastlane event, Cena revealed that he “100 per cent see[s] and understand[s]” how people could see his past comments as hypocritical given his similar trajectory.
“I went about it the wrong way. I violated his trust and I made allegations about his perspective that I knew nothing about,” Cena said. “And deep down, I was a fan. I wanted The Rock back [in WWE]. I wanted to do anything to get The Rock back, but I did it the wrong way.”
He expressed regret for his previous conduct, acknowledging his earlier response was not done in a “respectful way”.
“So I had to eat a little bit of crow. I had to say ‘I’m sorry and I was wrong,’ because I am sorry and I was wrong, and that’s a very humbling experience. Dwayne is a hell of a guy,” Cena added.
“I became who I despised. I see that perspective and I understand it. It was a great learning experience from my mistake with feuding with The Rock.”
Cena further shared that the two have since engaged in several conversations, which ultimately brought Johnson back to the ring and turned their feud into a “true full circle moment”.
“It’s very difficult for people who are all into the WWE universe to see anything else that goes on, but here. We all have our own struggle. We all live our own lives,” the Vacation Friends actor concluded.
Cena’s comments echo sentiments he recently shared on the Happy Sad Confused podcast.
“I got selfish and me – living WWE at the point and not having any concept of growth or someone else’s perspective – I took Dwayne’s comments as not genuine,” he told host Josh Horowitz in May.
“Rather than contacting Johnson personally, Cena decided to air his grievances publicly, explaining: “Instead of going like, ‘Hey man, I’d like to try to do this thing to hook you back in and maybe we can collaborate and really make it big,’ I was just like, ‘Eff this, I’m calling this dude out. This is a moment. You gave me an opening. I’m going to kick the door in.’”
Cena said that he “understands why he got upset”, adding: “I just got selfish and wanted a main event marquee match because it would better what I thought was the business. That was short-sighted and selfish. It worked!
“But it worked at the cost of two people who communicated and almost put it in jeopardy. There was a moment where there was a lot of bad vibes between us and rightfully so.”
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