John Cena's future in WWE has drawn plenty of scrutiny in 2018, and while the 16-time World Champion still may have a few chapters left in the ring, he seems well-aware his biggest moments are behind him.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated, the 41-year-old Cena was asked about being in the twilight of his wrestling career.
"It's a giant relay race, and I'm in the phase where I'm handing the stick off. My time is up," he said. "Someone else's time is now."
Cena has never been this absent from WWE as his 2018 has only seen him in the ring a handful of times. However, earlier this year, he echoed a similar sentiment, saying that WWE will focus on building around new stars rather than keeping his fire burning bright.
Until this October, Roman Reigns appeared to be WWE's new poster boy, but the return of his leukemia will keep him out of the company for an indefinite period. In the wake of that heartbreaking development, WWE has been left in a state of flux. For the last four years, WWE has tailored an environment to make Reigns Cena's replacement. But now, Vince McMahon and Co. have to make significant alterations with a limited number of potential candidate to be the face of the company.
Names like Braun Strowman and Seth Rollins have been tossed around as suitors for WWE's throne, but WWE could have similar if not better success with anointed Ronda Rousey or Becky Lynch. Regardless, WWE will be forced to make some intriguing choices in 2019.
For Cena, he'll return to WWE action this December for a stretch of untelevised shows before leaving again in January to film another movie. right now, it seems Cena will be absent from WWE's road to WrestleMania, but in an interview with ESPN earlier this year, Cena indicated that he still has plenty to give to professional wrestling.
"I'm far from done with the WWE. The WWE will always be my home, but in this current state of affairs right now with all this extra cool stuff that's going on, it's fun to try. It's a great time to be able to take a chance and I'm so eternally grateful to the WWE and its audience for bringing me to this point. I realize I'd be nowhere without them and I never forget them. I promise as soon as I have any sort of downtime, like I had when I was at the Greatest Royal Rumble and the string of shows I did before WrestleMania, anytime free time I get will not be free, it will be spent at my home in the WWE," he said.
"I don't feel like they're dependent on me in any way. I think the program is riveting as it stands and there are so many gifted young performers that deserve a chance and have earned a chance so there couldn't be a better time for me to take a break," he said.