While John Cena may now be known as one of the biggest wrestling stars of the last 30 years, and one of the most decorated WWE Superstars of all time, that doesn’t mean he didn’t have to learn some lessons the hard way on his way to the top.
Speaking on a recent episode of his podcast ARN, available via Ad Free Sows, Arn Anderson opened up about working with a young John Cena, recalling one incident in particular where he incurred the wrath of Kurt Angle.
Anderson initially reminisced about the youthful Cena, commenting that he “didn’t know anything” before remembering a match where his inexperience would be his downfall.
“I started with John when John was really green,” Anderson said. “He didn’t know anything, he was fresh out of the school of psychology and all the intricate things, ring presence, selling, all the things that go into being a top notch performer, you have to learn. It takes a lot of trial and error. I’ve never seen that, [someone who] learned this business without making mistakes and that you learn more from a mistake than something that you do well.”
One of Cena’s first real rivalries was with the already main-event established Kurt Angle on SmackDown. Reflecting on this stage of Cena’s career, Anderson recalled Cena working with Angle at a live event where he went off script, much to the chagrin of the former Olympian.
“He was wrestling Kurt Angle, as we know Kurt Angle is the real deal, he’s an assassin,” Anderson mentioned. “All of a sudden I see John, out of nowhere during a random time in the match he roles out of the ring, goes over the rail about 15 rows deep, grabs one of those big foam hands and folds it into a bird and points it at Kurt Angle. The audience popped, but as he gave it back and came over that rail to rejoin the match, guess who was waiting on him and not too happy about what just happened? That would be Kurt Angle and he proceeded to beat John half to death.
“He got a little stiff and snug with him because it was something that did not work in the match, it was unprofessional, it was just a foolish thing to do during that point in the match. It’s just one of those things that goes through the learning process, if you learn from those mistakes you can accelerate and move forward.”
Anderson who worked for WWE for a number of years, has discussed Cena on his podcast previously, revealing that he was told to “loosen up” his controversial STF finishing move.
H/t to Wrestling Inc for the transcription.