Nikki Bella Gives Ex John Cena a Shoutout During WWE Hall of Fame Speech: 'Thank You'

Nikki Bella and John Cena dated for five years before getting engaged in 2017, only to call off the relationship weeks before their 2018 wedding date

Nikki Bella's heartfelt acceptance speech at last week's 2021 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony included a sweet shoutout to her ex, John Cena.

On March 31, Nikki and twin sister Brie Bella were inducted into the organization's hall of fame during the ceremony, which was held in Florida and broadcast Tuesday on NBCUniversal's streaming service Peacock. The Total Bellas stars, both 37, accepted their award on the stage while wearing complimentary red dresses.

Brie started off her speech by thanking the pair's fellow female wrestlers that "fought alongside us and helped revolutionize the women's division," while Nikki followed up her sister by drawing attention to the male wrestlers that "have been on this journey with us too."

Nikki then mentioned Cena, 43. "And to John, thank you for teaching me a lot about this business and truly helping me find my fearless side," Nikki said.

Nikki and Cena began dating in 2012 and got engaged in April 2017 during WrestleMania 33. They ended their engagement just weeks before their wedding date in 2018 and said in a statement at the time that it was a "difficult" decision and that they would "continue to have a great deal of love and respect for one another."

A year later, Nikki began dating Artem Chigvintsev after they met on Dancing with the Stars. The two have since gotten engaged and welcomed their first child together, son Matteo, on July 31 of last year.

John Cena and Nikki Bella
John Cena and Nikki Bella. Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic
nikki bella, brie bella
Brie Bella, Nikki Bella.

Since her split from Cena, Nikki has been open about where things went wrong with the former couple. In May 2020, she said on Maria Menounos' show Better Together that she ultimately called it quits with Cena over their differing stances on family and children.

"Overall, we did have such an incredible relationship, it was just two people that wanted two different lives," she said. "We were trying so hard to make it one."

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But Cena was steadfastly against having children, while Nikki was vocal about her desire to be a mother, she said. Though Cena eventually agreed to have his vasectomy reversed in order to start a family with Nikki, she ended the relationship so he wouldn't regret having children.

"Even in the end when he was willing to give me kids, I could just tell, it's not what we wanted. And that's really, like, you know, what pushed me in the end, was like, if I'm going to force someone to be a father … what if he looks at you down the road and just regrets everything, and then you have this child and you've built this life," she explained on the podcast. "Is that what you want? And I remember thinking: it's not what I want."

Nikki Bella and John Cena
Nikki Bella, John Cena. Gregg DeGuire/WireImage; Dia Dipasupil/Getty

Following last Tuesday's ceremony, the Bella sisters — who signed with the WWE in 2007 and announced their retirement in 2019 — celebrated with a dinner at Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa. They also commemorated the honor with heartfelt social media posts.

"Dreams do come true. Never give up. Believe in yourself. Stay fearless. Stay humble. And empower and inspire along the way #halloffame," Nikki wrote on Instagram alongside footage from the ceremony.

Brie posed for a selfie with her Hall of Fame plaque in her own snapshot, writing, "Speechless. Grateful. Could nine. Are just some of the feelings im feeling. So overwhelmed with emotions."

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