The Reason Nikki Bella's Breakup With John Cena Was So Heartbreaking

Nikki Bella and John Cena were once the "it" couple of the WWE. As professional wrestlers, the athletes had known each other for quite some time before Cena asked her out in 2012. "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," Bella said on "TribLive Radio" that year (via Sportskeeda). By November 2013, the two had moved in together — but not before Cena had Bella sign a lengthy contract, they disclosed in an episode of E!'s "Total Divas." 

While Bella was initially skeptical, she understood his reasoning after he explained he was the main provider for many of his family members. "Not a lot of men nowadays would take care of their families. I think it's just amazing," Bella told him. Then, in April 2017, Cena got down on one knee in the ring at WrestleMania 33. Bella said "yes" before a cheering audience.

Their nuptials were set to take place on May 5, 2018, but Bella and Cena broke up just weeks before, according to Us Weekly. The two remained on friendly terms, with Bella often expressing gratitude to Cena. "Thank you for teaching me a lot about this business and truly helping me find my fearless side," Bella said when she was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2021, Us Weekly reported. Bella clearly still values her relationship with Cena — and she's now opening up about the heartbreaking way it ended. 

Nikki Bella and John Cena still loved each other

Nikki Bella and John Cena still cared deeply about one another when they went their separate ways. "You almost wish it was bad, because it's so much easier to walk away," Bella told Entertainment Tonight on July 20. "It's so much harder to walk away when it's loving." Even if her heart was urging her to stay, the wrestler knows it was the right decision. "Sometimes we meet amazing people, but we're just meant to live a different life. ... I just got this feeling so deep in my gut of, like, 'I need to walk away,'" she added. 

That's not to say she took the decision lightly. "No one thought I would, but it was hitting me so hard. Even though it's painful and even traumatizing, I just knew it was right," Bella said. Bella previously revealed she and Cena broke up because she wanted to experience parenthood and he didn't. "We did have such an incredible relationship. It was just two people that wanted two different lives," she said on the "Better Together with Maria Menounos" podcast in 2021.

Cena was willing to reverse his vasectomy to make Bella happy, but that's not what she wanted for him. "I don't want to force someone to change," she said. Bella welcomed a son with fiancé Artem Chigvintsev in July 2020. Cena, who just celebrated his wedding to Shay Shariatzadeh for a second time, remains childless.