Let’s Speculate Why John Cena Is in Chicago

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On Tuesday, Alinea chef Grant Achatz posted a photo posing with Shay Cena and former WWE superstar John Cena in the kitchen of his three-Michelin-starred restaurant. Beyond the “you can’t see me,” jokes — it’s Cena’s signature line — Cena was much better dressed relative to the last time most of the general public saw him, on Sunday, March 10 during the Oscars where he only worse his birthday suit.

But why was Cena in town? The actor’s Instagram account stirred the pot further on Thursday morning by posting an uncredited photo of Mr. Beef that we recognized from this Eater Chicago story. Mr. Beef is the famous River North street food stand that inspired Season 1 of The Bear. We appreciate the patronage, John (or the folks behind his social media), but a little credit would go a long way.

Falling for Cena’s publicity trap, let’s ponder why he’s in town, and yes — this is blind speculation. There is no way he was only here to watch the WWE event held Monday in suburban Rosemont

  1. Cena’s taking some sort of role on The Bear. An informal poll of Eater staff around the country supports this assertion; Eater loves The Bear. Perhaps Cena could play the role of the entitled customer who takes to Yelp complaining about a misstep at Carmy and Sydney’s restaurant: “Service was abysmal, I felt invisible sitting at my table waiting for someone to acknowledge me.” Maybe Cena is the head of a restaurant group interested in poaching staff from the Bear? The Christmas episode in Season 2 was full of cameos, so a Cena appearance might make sense.
  2. There is a second TV show being filmed in Chicago with a restaurant angle that will air on Hulu. Deli Boys is about a Pakistani American family who runs a convenience store chain. Maybe the show intends to inject a shot of star power with Cena.
  3. Jeppson’s Malört is unveiling a new slogan using another of Cena’s favorite lines: “If you want some, get some.”
  4. Cena wants to reenter the world of competitive pizza eating and figures Chicago is the ideal spot for pizza lovers to “Eat. Pray. Love.” It sure ain’t St. Louis.
  5. He’s here for baseball Opening Day and is a South Side fan. He’s going to smuggle some protein powder into Guaranteed Rate Field to clandestinely add to the White Sox’s new 16-ounce Campfire Shake.
  6. Cena wants to reopen the Squared Circle in Lincoln Park, the bar owned by retired WWE wrestler Lisa Marie Varon.
  7. He’s working on his own exclusive ice cream flavor with Pretty Cool Ice Cream to one-up CM Punk.
  8. Peacemaker and Eagely are in Chicago to “look at those low rates” and film an updated version of the Eagle Insurance TV ads from the ’90s. We need a new Eagleman.
  9. Maybe Cena is just a fan of great dining. When asked about the visit, chef Achatz simply emailed: “Nothing more to see here.”
  10. This list is pointless for many reasons, but mostly because there’s no real photographic evidence of Cena actually setting foot in the city.

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