WWE: John Cena is unrecognizable in tanned, ripped bodybuilding photo

John Cena is one of the biggest names in Hollywood (Picture: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

John Cena has become one of the most recognizable stars on the planet but he looks wildly different in photos taken early in his career.

The WWE legend turned Hollywood actor competed as a bodybuilder before he caught the eye in Vince McMahon’s company, and this marks two decades sing his debut alongside the likes of Brock Lesnar, Batista (Dave Bautista) and Randy Orton in the famed class of 2002.

To celebrate his achievement, WWE is dedicating June to Cena and his rich legacy, and they have marked the occasion with an epic gallery of rare and unseen photos.

From childhood snaps to behind the scenes pictures, it’s a fascinating look at his journey to become one of the biggest names in wrestling history.

In one wild shot, Cena can be seen (for once) looking more ripped than ever during a bodybuilding competition as he poses in trunks with a LOT of tanning going on.

From his skin and muscles to his haircut, he’s unrecognizable from the man taking over the big screen.

WWE legend and Hollywood actor John Cena in bodybuilding competition

John Cena was a bodybuilder before wrestling took over (Picture: WWE)

WWE legend John Cena

Cena has changed a lot over the years (Picture: WWE)

WWE legends John Cena and The Undertaker at WrestleMania 34

Cena and The Undertaker faced off at WrestleMania 34 (Picture: WWE)

Another shot shows him as a young boy holding up two action figures of He-Man and Skeletor, and others show more candid moments throughout his WWE career.

First appearing in Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) as The Prototype, Cena would go onto make his debut on SmackDown in 2002 in a shock victory over Kurt Angle.

A transformation into the Doctor of Thuganomics gave his career the springboard it needed, as he became a fan favorite en route to winning the United States Title from The Big Show at WrestleMania XX.

He’s not looked back since then, capturing 16 world championships, which puts him level with WWE’s recognized record held by Ric Flair.

WWE legend John Cena childhood photo

Cena as a young boy (Picture: WWE)

WWE legend John Cena as The Protoype

From The Prototype to the Doctor of Thuganomics and beyond (Picture: WWE)

WWE legend John Cena returns to Monday Night Raw the night after Money In The Bank in July 2021

Cena is one of the biggest names in the company’s history (Picture: WWE)

Despite breaking into Hollywood with roles in the likes of F9, The Suicide Squad and the latter’s spin-off Peacemaker, he still makes occasional appearances in the ring.

Last year, he returned for a spell dubbed the Summer of Cena, which started with a shock comeback at Money In The Bank, and culminating in a losing effort against Universal Champion Roman Reigns.

Cena has made it clear that he is by no means done with WWE, and he could be on a collision course with rising star theory.

He recently suggested he’s got his sights set on the United States Champion, and there is history between the pair with theory making it clear how much Cena meant to him as a kid.

He previously told Metro.co.uk: ‘When I was eight, the first time I’d ever seen WWE, I was invested. John Cena was the first person that I’d seen.

‘Just his character, the way he carried himself helped me through a lot of personal stuff in my life. That’s what built my connection with loving professional wrestling, and sports entertainment.’

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