The worlds of professional wrestling and Hollywood gossip collided last month with the abrupt breakup of wrestler-turned-actor John Cena and Total Bellas star Nikki Bella. The WWE power couple announced their split with just weeks to go before their wedding, leaving fans scrambling for any sort of explanation. But as you'll see in the relationship timeline below, we spotted plenty of red flags during their six-year relationship…
2012: John asks Bella out for a first date. "The first opening line was, 'Hey, do you want to go to dinner with me?' and I was kind of like, 'What? With me?'" she later tells TribLive Radio. "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."
2013: Nikki moves in with John… after signing a lengthy contract. "Having been through that process, here is how I view it," John later explains to Nikki's twin sister, Brie Bella. "It is like buying a handgun for home defense. It gives you a sense of security, and it gives you a failsafe in case something happens … I had to have your sister sign an agreement to live in the house. It wasn't a one-page [agreement], it's a 75-page agreement.”
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May 29, 2014: A clip from Total Divas shows John finding out Nikki has been married before… and hearing the news from someone other than Nikki… at Brie's wedding.
Sept. 7, 2014: An episode of Total Divas shows John and Nikki clashing over their plans for the future. "I'm trying to be a realist," John says. "I've told you that 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. So I feel like this is a time-bomb over my head."
Sept. 29, 2015: An ex of Nikki's, wrestler Dolph Ziggler, tells her he could give her marriage and children. Nikki eventually comes clean to John about Dolph's advances, as viewers see in a January 2016 episode of Total Divas.
April 2, 2017: John proposes to Nikki at Wrestlemania 33 — getting down on bended knee in front of "75,000 of their closest friends" — after they defeat married couple The Miz and Maryse in the wrestling ring.
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Sept. 27, 2017 An episode of Total Bellas shows John refusing to give Nikki power of attorney in case he is ever put on life support. He tells her she's "not even on the list."
April 3, 2018: At the premiere of his film Blockers — two weeks before their breakup — John raves about his and Nikki's relationship to E! News, saying, "I think the best thing about me being able to ask her hand in marriage was she doesn't need to question my commitment to our relationship. I am with her to death do us part."
April 5, 2018: A teaser for Season 3 of Total Bellas shows Nikki in tears over her relationship with John. "I'm not sure we should go through with this," he tells her in the promo.
April 8, 2018: On Instagram, Nikki posts an animated re-enactment of John's proposal just one week before their breakup. "What a moment, still get chills and tears every time," she writes. "Honestly feel like the luckiest girl in the world."
April 15, 2018: Nikki shares the news of her and John's split — less than one month before their wedding date. "While this decision was a difficult one, we continue to have a great deal of love and respect for one another," Nikki writes on Instagram. "We ask that you respect our privacy during this time in our lives."
May 8, 2018: Nikki tells fans she has moved in with her sister and has been "just kind of been hiding out." She also thanks her fans for their love and support.
May 14, 2018: On Today, John says he "still would love to marry Nicole" and "still would love to have a family with Nicole." He reveals their relationship ended because of an "unfortunate set of circumstances."
May 17, 2018: In the wake of John's statement on Today, Nikki tells Life & Style exclusively there's hope for the relationship. "It's definitely not too little, too late," she says. "There's definitely hope. Right now, I'm just focusing on me and working on myself because a healthy me is a healthy us. And hopefully John's and [my] paths come back together in a happily-ever-after."