5 Things to Know About John Cena’s New Wife Shay Shariatzadeh
But while you can watch countless old YouTube clips of Cena hoisting humongous men over his shoulders and throwing them onto the nearest available surface, alas there is no video library that shows the work and training that went into the transformation we’re talking about.
Four years after unapologetically saying, “I don’t want marriage,” the once-divorced Peacemaker star took the plunge with Shay Shariatzadeh—and they’re celebrating their third wedding anniversary Oct. 12.
Though not approaching the high-profile, oft-on-camera status of Cena’s days dating Nikki Bella, the couple’s relationship was no secret, but their low-key ceremony at a Tampa, Fla., courthouse did take the outside world by surprise.
What looked like an engagement ring was spotted on Shariatzadeh’s finger in February 2020, but they never publicly shared any plans to wed.
Cena had revealed the previous October how their coupling began, about seven months after they were first photographed together in her native Canada, where he was making the comedy Playing With Fire—and they walked their first red carpet as a couple at the premiere.
“It’s a wonderful day for a movie premiere and I got a beautiful date,” he told Entertainment Tonight. “What’s truly special about this one is that, no matter what projects I’m involved in the future, this one will always have a special meaning because I got to film a special project and meet someone special.”
Though she looked perfectly at home on the red carpet, Shariatzadeh is not in show business—which perhaps was a major selling point for Cena, so much of whose last relationship played out on Total Bellas, whether he was onscreen or not.
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Rather, she worked as a product manager in the video security industry (always good to have one of those in an entertainment family) at Avigilon, a tech solutions company in Vancouver. She studied engineering in school and in 2019 was spotlighted by Avigilon on International Women’s Day, saying in a work profile that she looked up to her surgeon mom and her motto was “practice makes progress.”
Those certainly sound like words Cena lives by, too.
“Perseverance is the quality that I have,” he said on Sunday Sitdown With Willie Geist in 2019. “I’ve never really been outstanding at anything except sticking with something.”
While not just anyone becomes a WWE Hall of Famer, then a movie star, in-demand host and the voice of all those Honda commercials without talent, determination, dedication and hard work have certainly factored into Cena’s success.
And though he may have been talking about his career in that moment, he certainly has tried to stick with certain things that in the long run just weren’t meant to be.
The 46-year-old spent nearly six years with Bella, starting out as friends on the wrestling circuit before finally asking her to dinner in 2012.
They were, as far as they said, very much in love, and Cena did ultimately propose—in 2017 at WrestleMania 33, right after they’d toppled The Miz and Maryse—even though he had said out loud that he didn’t want to get married.
He had also already tried it once, with longtime sweetheart Elizabeth Huberdeau, but they divorced in 2012 after three years of marriage.
“A lot of that was because of my inability to be a good husband,” he candidly told Rolling Stone in 2016, “but then Nicole strolled into my life, and that did it.”
By “it,” he meant that falling for Bella got the muscle car-collecting, always-on-the-go, PBR-drinking dude who in 1999 drove cross-country to Hollywood with a dream and $500 to his name to willingly share his life with someone.
For the most part.
As seen on E!’s Total Bellas, he made Bella sign a 75-page agreement before she moved into his Tampa mansion in 2013—as a guest.
“Although I do not wish to be formal, I do not want there to be any misunderstanding regarding your presence at the home as my guest,” the document read. “In the event that I ask you to vacate the home, you agree to immediately vacate the home and remove any and all items you have brought into the home as soon as possible.”
Cena explained that he was only trying to protect his assets for the sake of his family, several members of which he provided financial support to. “This is what my life is,” he told his about-to-be-live-in girlfriend. “This is what it’s become. You met my family. You think my mom paid for that house herself? She didn’t. My brother lives in that house, they’re expecting a child. My younger brother, he’s got medical problems. I make sure he’s okay.
“I always tell them, I’m a horrible brother, but I try to be the best provider that I can. I just don’t want to ever be in a position where that’s in jeopardy.”
Ultimately Bella filed his benevolence away in the plus column, but several years later, she still sometimes felt like a guest, despite the fabulous only-hers closet she called her favorite room in the house.
Cena was consistently clear about wanting things the way he wanted them.
Talking about the things he and Bella fought about most—marriage, having kids, taking care of their dog Winston and his workaholism—he told Rolling Stone in 2016, “Look, I know I cannot handle raising a child. It’s like with the dog. My biggest thing to Nicole about the dog was: Love dogs, but I can’t contribute to taking care of one. I don’t have the time. And just because everyone else is happy with children doesn’t mean that’s how I have to live.”
He continued, “I’ve been upfront about this. I just have things I need to get done. It’s not negotiable. We’ve been to therapy over it. I don’t think it will ever be over with. I’m stubborn as f–k and extremely selfish as well. I don’t want kids, I don’t want marriage. That’s me just saying, ‘Hey, this is my life and this is how I’m going to live.'”
And yet he proposed a year later.
But going by his past comments, it wasn’t surprising that they ended their engagement in 2018, Bella calling off the destination wedding they (but mainly she) had been planning. They did spend a couple of months trying to work out their issues, but they soon realized it really was over.
The ensuing months were admittedly not easy, particularly with everything playing out publicly. However, in a sweet twist of fate, Bella rang in 2019 in the arms of her former Dancing With the Stars partner Artem Chigvintsev. They share 3-year-old son Matteo and tied the knot last year.
Yet though Bella had happily moved on by March 2019, when Cena is said to have met his future bride, that didn’t mean she was excited at the prospect of seeing her ex with someone else.
“My stomach went into knots,” she admitted on The Bellas Podcast, recalling how friends (thanks, ladies) started to send her links to the pictures of Cena and his new flame, who was still going by “mystery woman” at the time.
But to her surprise, she was okay. “You either want to poop your pants immediately…or you just have the craziest tummy ache, right?” she explained of how she expected to feel. “So, neither of that happened to me when I saw the photos.”
“John, congratulations on your wedding,” Bella said on All Things Vanderpump. “I’m very, very happy for you.”
But though Cena’s trip to the courthouse may have seemed to come out of the blue, there’s little chance it was a spur-of-the-moment decision for him when the day came in 2020.
“See, I think about every decision I make,” he told Rolling Stone in 2016. “I don’t just knee-jerk.”
Besides, Cena hadn’t yet met Shariatzadeh, so he didn’t have all of his options on the table yet. He has stayed pretty consistent, however, on the subject of having children since that revealing interview.
“It’s hard work to balance the time I need to run myself correctly,” he explained. “It’s work to be the best partner and husband I can be to my loving wife. It’s hard to keep connections with those in my life that I love, and it’s also hard to put in an honest day’s work.”
Moreover, Cena added, just because a person might be good at something shouldn’t be the reason for doing it.
“You have to have passion for it,” he said. “You have to have fuel for it. It’s like saying to someone, ‘Man, you know, you’re pretty good with your hands, you’d be a great carpenter,’ but if I want to be an actor, I’ll be an actor.'”
Marilla Sicilia/Archivio Marilla Sicilia/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images
Which he decided to be and then became—and his dedication to the career he’s worked so hard for keeps bearing fruit.
While he and Shariatzadeh are a very private couple, she color-coordinated with an in-costume Cena at the 2021 L.A. premiere of The Suicide Squad and made the trip to Italy in May for the Rome premiere of Fast X, where they looked very much the devoted twosome.
On the TODAY show that month, Cena allowed that his wife “loves me for who I am, and I love her for exactly who she is.” But other than that, he stressed that he and Shariatzadeh were on the same page about keeping everything else to themselves.
“We have core values which we both believe in, and one of those is keeping our information to us and those extremely close to our inner circle,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier, but I think a way for us to keep our intimacy is by keeping it intimate.”
Read on for more couples on the same page who pulled off their weddings in secret:
(Originally published Oct. 19, 2020, at 3:35 p.m. PT)
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