Jim Ross has recalled first setting his eyes on the future sixteen-time champion of the world John Cena and says he knew Cena would headline WrestleMania within five years.
Speaking on his Grilling JR podcast [available via AdFreeShows.com] Ross discussed John Cena’s career in 2006. Before that, however, Ross recounted the first time he ever saw Cena at an independent show in California. According to JR, Cena had a great look but needed some more in-ring seasoning.
Jim Ross explained:
“He was always a keeper. I saw him for the first time in UPW, run by Rick Bassman out there in southern California. He had kind of a Sting look, the flat top, bleach blonde, all jacked-up guy. I may have mentioned this before on our shows but what really sold me on John – I knew when I watched him work, that he needed a lot of work, he needed more reps – if you will.”
“But when I talk with him I found a historian and a real deep-rooted wrestling fan. He was aware of a lot of talents and what made them great and things of that nature. We’ve got a guy here. I’ve told you this story about taking the red-eye home and going straight to the office – I was so excited about getting him committed that I went to the office I caught Vince about ten o’clock in the morning or something like that.”
“After sleeping on the plane I probably looked a little dishevelled. I said ‘I’ve just signed this talent that I believe is going to headline WrestleMania within five years’. He said ‘you need to go home and take a shower’. Was he excited? A little bit. But I was effusive. I thought he’s a good character guy, great body, athlete. […] I didn’t know he was going to go as far as he did, I’m not going to be some kinda crystal ball here. But I thought he was special, and as it worked out, lucky for everybody he was special.”
Cena went on to have one of the most decorated careers in WWE history. John Cena has a busy 2021 coming up as he stars in F9 – the latest instalment of The Fast And The Furious franchise as well as Marvel’s The Suicide Squad.