John Cena recently made the Guinness Book of World Records for his heroic contributions to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

As the West Newbury, Massachusetts, native is famous for being generous, it’s likely this is the only record he really cares about.

That's a good thing, because there’s one record in the wrestling world for which he is tied, but unlikely to ever break.

John Cena and legend Ric Flair have been tied for most World Championships won in pro wrestling for some time now. And with Cena still semi-active and Flair recently retired, it seems quite likely that WWE would love the story of “The Babe Ruth of WWE” passing Flair to sit alone atop the mountain of champions. But, and this is where I need you to stop reading if you’re a kid or one of my friends from high school, pro wrestling is generally predetermined.

So, not only does someone as big as John Cena have a say in whether or not he wants to break Flair’s record, but he’s more likely to turn it down.

Flair is generally seen within wrestling circles the way Michael Jordan is viewed in basketball – someone who not only makes a case for best wrestler of all time, but a guy who helped take wrestling from beer and bingo halls to arenas and stadiums.

Flair is so prolific, he was the subject of a highly-acclaimed ESPN “30 for 30” documentary in 2018. I watched it, and even as a “Yankee” who grew up watching Connecticut-based WWE, I teared up minutes into this retrospective on the life of Ric Flair, especially when he details the circumstances of his early childhood.

By the end, there’s no way even the great John Cena would want to pass Ric Flair.

Still, it’s grown to become a divisive topic in wrestling circles following a “Dark Side of the Ring” episode about Flair’s behavior on a flight back in 2002. As some soured on the self-proclaimed “Nature Boy,” Flair’s real-life transgressions bled into his in-ring achievements and one could argue that all-time good guy John Cena is not only worthy of standing alone as wrestling’s greatest, but is in some ways obligated.

After all, he’s about doing good things and embracing positivity. The problem once again? How do you go into a locker room of wrestlers after surpassing the greatest (in-ring) mentor?

Even in wrestling, our greatest escape, life is very, very complicated.

And at this stage of his career, Cena is just as focused on giving back in the ring as he is with his charitable ventures. While Cena remains active in WWE, competing when his movie schedule allows, he’s been more about “giving back to the business.”

In fact, Cena’s last recorded singles win, according to the Internet Wrestling Database, came in December of 2018.

So, how come a guy who always loses is still so highly regarded?

Because, as wrestlers grow older and move onto acting roles, it’s expected they pay it forward just like the stars that came before them, “putting over” younger talent so they can carry the torch and, hopefully, be the next John Cena.

In 2020, John Cena was defeated by the younger Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania – a “cinematic match” for which both were highly praised. And in 2021, Cena fell to Roman Reigns, who went on to become the single-biggest star in WWE.

In a business where everyone wants to win, Newbury’s John Cena has reached a stage where he is content to count the lights, as long as it helps a younger talent reach greater heights, proving that whether it’s the happiness of a child or good guys vs. bad guys, John Cena’s willing to do whatever he can to help.

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