Longtime WWE Superstar John Cena said Wednesday there are no plans for him to make a return to wrestling amid his budding career in Hollywood.
Cena told Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated he's happy with his transition to a new stage in his career, and it's one where his WWE appearances will likely be limited by design.
"The fan base has seen some wonderful individuals look a step slower," he said. "I just don't want to be that person. People like Steve Austin and Dwayne Johnson, they have done it perfectly."
The 42-year-old Massachusetts native joined WWE in 2000 and began working as a full-time Superstar two years later. He stopped short of saying another in-ring run isn't on the horizon, but it doesn't sound like he'll ever be the Raw or SmackDown building block he's been in the past.
"Any athlete that has played 17 seasons will tell you they need to be considering what to do when they play their last game," Cena said. "It's been a wonderful ride. I'm at a very reduced workload now. I feel great, I still have my health, my sanity, and wonderful emotional balance."
He's following in the successful footsteps of Johnson, better known to WWE audiences as The Rock, which is funny in hindsight because Cena often lambasted the People's Champion for his part-time schedule during their feud that covered WrestleMania main events in both 2012 and 2013.
Although those pointed remarks came in character, the Doctor of Thuganomics told Barrasso he's reached out to Rocky to make it clear he understands now those jabs weren't fair.
"I've told Dwayne Johnson that when I called him out for a lack of love for WWE, I was wrong," Cena said. "I was ignorant. He loves WWE, but he goes from shooting one project to the next. He blazed a trail and I didn't understand that, but now I totally understand. I was wrong. It led to a good piece of business in WWE [at WrestleMania 28 and 29], but I was speaking from a point of selfish ignorance."
WWE chairman Vince McMahon would surely welcome Cena back with open arms as the company attempts to build SmackDown on network television following its debut on Fox last month.
The 13-time WWE champion told Sports Illustrated he isn't interested in going back to go through the motions, though.
"I literally give my life, willingly, to WWE," Cena said. "But you shouldn't be the same person you were yesterday. You should always evolve and grow and change. I want to make sure I still love what I do. I never want to get to the point where I steal your money just to get your money."
In other words, Cena will likely make occasional returns for major storylines revolving around the company's biggest events—Royal Rumble, WrestleMania and SummerSlam—but it sounds like that'll be the extent of his involvement in the future.