John Cena has opened up about the sacrifices he’s made over the course of his two decade long WWE career.
Heading into SummerSlam Cena stands on the brink of a record 17th World Championship. A victory against Roman Reigns in Las Vegas would made Cena the most decorated champion in WWE history. Despite this, the man many consider the prototype of a WWE Superstar has drawn mixed responses from crowds for a number of years.
Speaking in a new interview with Chris Hardwick on the ID1OT Podcast, Cena explained how the crowd reactions have made him the man he is today.
“I think a lot of it comes from the WWE and its audience,” Cena said. “Being told you suck, every time you go out five times a week. Like genuine, visceral, and the reason I know it was genuine was because I was a good guy. They boo the bad guys because they know, but I was deemed the role of the hero. And to have this adversarial, visceral, genuine force of reminding you that ‘don’t get too close to the sun, don’t sip the Kool Aid, hey dude, you suck.’
“And I think a lot of that helped me kind of, one take that in. Take their opinion in and understand why they thought I sucked. Two, be okay with being humiliated every night. And three, looking in the mirror and being like ‘no I think I’m okay with what I see. I think I’m going to be alright.’ I always say I owe the WWE audience more than I can explain. They made me into the person that I am. Not the professional; I took a lot of professional titbits from my time there. But they made me into the person I am.”
An element of fan frustration comes from the perception that Cena can do whatever he wants. Addressing this, the 16-time World Champion said that he asks what he has to do and goes out and commits to it.
“I heard it so much in WWE,” Cena said. “‘Well, Vince lets him do whatever he wants. That’s why he can consistently perform at a level that’s acceptable and entertaining to the audience. He gets to do whatever he wants.’ Nope. I ask and I execute and I invest and I’m meticulous with the detail and I’m consistent night in after night out. I’m trustworthy, I’m giving of self. But the perception everyone else has is ‘he just has a better situation.’ And I’m not taking away from anybody’s struggle. And I’ve learned to appreciate everyone’s struggle, and everyone has a different struggle. I can understand where those feelings come from.”
Cena went on to describe his earlier relationship with wrestling as “toxic,” explaining how he wrote off everything else in his life apart from wrestling for 20 years.
“You can have those feelings when you’re done analyzing yourself and saying like ‘yo, am I at max capacity? Am I doing, because if I really want to wear those shoes or put on those jorts, am I at max capacity? Or did I party too much?’ This is a completely acceptable example, ‘did I want to see my family?’ I wrote off everything but wrestling in my life for two decades. Everything. And that’s a toxic relationship, but the by-product was I got some wonderful opportunities. But now I’m dealing with a landslide of stuff where I’m rebuilding myself as a man, as a human being, and gladly and open and welcome.”
On the most recent episode of SmackDown, Reigns and Cena went toe to toe in an almighty war of words. After Cena opened the show, Reigns hit back making reference to Cena’s past relationship with Nikki Bella. Clearly riled up, Cena quickly retaliated saying that Reigns broke up The Shield and drove Dean Ambrose out of WWE.
Determined to end on a high, Cena said that at SummerSlam he will win the Universal Championship and might even hop the barrier and blow a kiss on the way out the building. A clear reference to CM Punk’s actions at Money In The Bank a decade ago.
H/t to Wrestling Inc for the transcription.