John Cena and Nikki Bella’s split has shocked fans, coming just weeks before they were set to wed in Mexico. The professional wrestlers have been together for six years. Bella is said to be “heartbroken” and “devastated” over the sudden breakup.
Cena and Bella began dating in 2012. The pair knew each other through the WWE world and were friends for years before things turned romantic. “I was brave enough to be like, ‘Hey, would you like to go to dinner with me tonight?’ and she said, ‘Yes.’ I was overjoyed,” Cena recalled of getting up the courage to ask her out.
Bella had a similar recollection.
“The first opening line was, ‘Hey, do you want to go to dinner with me?’ and I was kind of like, ‘WHAT?! With me?!’ When you’re friends with John for so long. … 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,” she explained. “My face was like on fire. [My sister] Brie kept teasing me, calling me ‘Hot Cheeks,’ and I was like, ‘Brie, shush!’”
Their coupling came on the heels of Cena’s separation from his first wife, Elizabeth Huberdeau. The high school sweethearts wed in 2009, and Huberdeau was said to have felt “blindsided” when he filed for divorce in 2012, believing that Cena had been unfaithful. Cena vowed to never marry again.
Bella had also been married once before — to her high school sweetheart. On a 2014 episode of Total Divas, she called the marriage a “huge mistake,” and it was annulled three years later. Still, it didn’t deter her from wanting to walk down the aisle again.
While Cena and Bella happily packed on the PDA throughout their relationship, they were struggling behind the scenes over one issue: children.
“I do want to be a mom,” Bella told Cena in 2013 on Total Divas. “I feel like I’d be missing out.”
“I’m going to choose my words carefully,” Cena replied. “I can’t give you that.”
The topic was discussed on the reality show again in 2014. “I’m trying to be a realist,” Cena told her. “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.”
In a different episode, Cena drove that point home when talking with Nikki’s twin sister, Brie.
“Nicole and I were talking, and she brought to my attention that she’s over marriage, she doesn’t want to have kids anymore. It was a little alarming to me,” Brie said.
“I was abundantly clear about that from our very first date,” he said. “It wasn’t like I tried to manipulate your sister into thinking a certain thing was going to happen and then all of a sudden say ‘Ha ha.’ I love this girl, but I love my life.”
Cena’s views on marriage seemed to evolve. On a 2016 episode of Total Divas, Bella gushed, “You guys, John finally told me on our three-year anniversary that marriage doesn’t bother him anymore, he wants to marry me, he wants to be married to me. … I want him next to me my whole life. I can’t live without him.”
The Blockers star proposed to Bella at WrestleMania 33 last year.
— WWE WrestleMania (@WrestleMania) April 3, 2017
“I never actually would have thought that he would have proposed in front of all those people, but that’s home for us, WWE is our home, it’s where we met, it’s our passion, it’s our life,” she said on the Today show. “Honestly, I could not ask for it to be any other way.”
Cena was asked what changed his mind about marriage. “I found the absolute right person,” he explained. “I found a strong person [who] I consider an inspiration, an equal, somebody who when I’m feeling down picks me up. It took a person that strong to change my view on life.”
The couple celebrated their engagement with family and friends in January, and wedding planning was on.
Such a wonderful, meaningful, emotional day yesterday with the woman of my dreams and both of our families. I love you Nicole, you’ve made me realize the importance of togetherness.
— John Cena (@JohnCena) January 14, 2018
“Yeah, it’s actually going to gear up in the next few weeks,” Cena said in an interview. “It’s kind of a special time where there is a little bit of lull and I’m really looking forward to spending some time with Nicole and work on that. Hopefully, in the next few weeks the wedding planning is really going to amp up!”
It might have amped up, but their relationship stalled. Last month, the wrestler-turned-actor hinted that there was trouble behind closed doors.
“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,” he told Us Weekly. “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.”
He continued, “It takes being able to mesh two lives. I would never ever want Nicole to be in a position where she says, ‘I’m holding you back from doing this because I feel it’s wrong for us.’ And I would never say that to her. That’s why 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 together. I think, for now at least, that is certainly what’s making this work.”
However, the pair looked happy as ever at the premiere of Blockers earlier this month.
On Monday, Cena and Bella announced that they had called off their engagement.
After the news broke, Cena tweeted about hardship.
Hardship, loss, and humility are extremely difficult waters to navigate, but perseverance thru them builds a strength to withstand anything life throws your way.
— John Cena (@JohnCena) April 16, 2018
They were set to tie the knot on May 5 in Mexico.
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