John Cena is one of the most well-known WWE Superstars of all time. His name and likeness are embedded in pop culture. Now a 16-time World Champion, Cena graces the same carpet only Ric Flair can. His journey to stardom hasn’t always gone smoothly, though.
Before Roman Reigns was ever the controversial “top guy” in WWE, Cena held the position for well over a decade. Throughout his career, Cena was plagued with messages from fans of the product telling him to walk away or turn heel. He also gained a certain reputation over the years for his character.
During the recent SI Media podcast with Jimmy Traina, Cena gave an insight into why he doesn’t care about the reputation he has. The former Champion goes into some serious depth about why he feels the way he does, explaining how cynical fans can be.
“I don’t care about the reputation I have. What I care about is the performance I give. But the easiest way to just silence that problem is to take me out of the equation. Here’s the crazy thing, all the people that have chastised me for staying around too long, are now chastising me for not being around. [It’s] also a great exercise to know that you will never be able to please these people because they always need something to be cynical about. I guess that’s why they are called critics.
“But I’m very happy now because it truly is… it’s like it was in 2002 when Randy and Dave and Brock and myself and Shelton… those guys came up and everybody left. We changed the name of the company, the XFL had failed. A bunch of Superstars left, and now you are left with these new guys, and it’s like sink or swim. And we just happened to have a very, very talented group of individuals, and it was a long, long swim. I mean the stock was at 7 bucks for a long time, and now the fruits of our labor are kind of showing, and the company is bigger than it has ever been. So I’m very excited for all the Superstars now.
“I hope they understand in perspective, as Randy is towards the end of his run, Dave obviously has had tremendous success in the movie business, he’s another (one) that has transcended the industry and deserves his just due. My days as a full-timer are certainly numbered, and that has nothing to do with extracurricular activities. I just… as a 41-year old, I can’t do it. If you look at anybody in my shoes… Chris Jericho had taken a break, Hulk Hogan had certainly taken a break. I think the only guy that may fall into that category of not taking a break is Flair. But Austin had already been done, Rock was already done.
“So people are like, ‘Where are you going, man?’ I’m 41!”
Additionally, Cena was asked about the similar struggles Reigns is finding himself in now.
“Roman has it tough. I kind of ruined this for everybody; the content and the format change did. Attitude Era was male 18-35. And our program still draws males 18-35. But we’re a PG program. Which means your audience is a six-year-old. I don’t say don’t cater to the male 18-35, but your audience starts at six or younger. So you have to give them essentially Shrek or Cars, or the Lego movie. Sometimes 18-35 year old dudes don’t want to watch the Lego movie. Don’t think there’s not a second in my mind that our audience isn’t six. Our audience is so mixed that there’s never going to be a good guy that appeals to everyone.
“Even if it’s someone that the fans endorse and become the guy; it’s a thing where the fans are like, ‘Okay, you as a company are going with this guy? No, you’re not because we get to choose!’ When Roman was with The Shield, everybody loved him. He didn’t really change much. He was soft-spoken, his actions spoken for him, he performs incredibly well. Yet there’s a giant uprising because a lot of it is, ‘You can’t tell us what to like.’ And that’s okay; it’s just tough waters to navigate as a company and it is tough to build stars. You have to look at your consumers and the analytics. People really like Roman Reigns. And the numbers are there to prove it.”
Commenting on the feud he had with Reigns, Cena says ‘The Big Dog’ improved a lot in a short period of time.
“Letting Roman know that there is another level to the game. And if you don’t step up to that level, you don’t have the right to call yourself someone at that level. That’s what my job with Roman was supposed to be. The great thing with Roman is that he understood that and was open to it. You want to talk about being vulnerable and letting it all hang out. He got his teeth knocked out verbally and shot back with what I thought was one of his best performances. Over the story arc of five weeks, he did learn. There were slip-ups at the beginning, but by the end, it was one of his best emotional investments in a program he’s been in.”
Cena is scheduled to take part in the cup at Crown Jewel. So far, Kurt Angle, Randy Orton, and Jeff Hardy have been confirmed to join him in the match.
What is your opinion on John Cena? Has that opinion ever changed for better or worse? Let us know your thoughts, opinions, and reactions in those comments below.
With H/T to Wrestling Inc for the transcriptions.