John Cena has revealed the origins of his often imitated, never duplicated “You Can’t See Me” hand gesture that he used on WWE television.
Cena began using the taunt using his rapping days on SmackDown and long after Cena stopped spitting bars on the blue brand, he often bust out the hand in front of the face taunt before busting out a five knuckle shuffle on his opponent.
Speaking to Buzzfeed, the sixteen-time champion of the world discussed how as a young boy in West Newbury, Massachusetts he became immersed in hip-hop culture and how that, in turn, led a young John Cena to the gym:
“This all started for me back in 1989, as Chuck D would say. You wouldn’t guess it by how I’m dressed now, but I dressed a little different as a kid. Rap music was becoming extremely popular – Beastie Boys and Run DMC, NWA, I was from another area of the world (Massachusetts) that didn’t care about that, but I did.
I loved the rebellious nature of the message. I wasn’t going through any of that struggle but I really liked this loud, brash approach and the music just spoke to me.”
“So I began to be immersed in rap and hip-hop culture, and for that, in an area of the world that wasn’t so immersed, I got my ass kicked every single day, and the core of the abuse was just, ‘Hey, dress like all of us!’
And I think at a young age, instead of folding, I doubled down and went even more ridiculous to get even more of my ass kicked.”
“So, as a way to defend myself, I asked my father for a home gym. This was at 12 or 13. My grandfather convinced him, and I got it for Christmas, began working out Christmas Day, and here we are 32 years later, and I haven’t stopped.”
As for the “You Can’t See Me” taunt, that was all down to a brotherly dare in the recording studio after John Cena found the new theme music that he has become synonymous with over the years:
“We were in production for new theme music for the John Cena rap identity, so we recorded about like 85 songs, and keep in mind there are only like 16 on the ‘You Can’t See Me’ album and I remember hearing this one beat, and it was that beat for ‘My Time Is Now’….
The build to the crescendo, and the horns, and the brass, and that heavy hit of the bass like it had everything, and we would always use my little brother as kind of our Litmus Test because he was a really harsh critic, and if he enjoyed it, I knew we were OK.”
“I remembered him just going like this [You Can’t See Me gesture], and like, getting lost in it.
And I think he was doing what was, I think, the Tony Yayo Dance at the time, where Tony Yayo would do this hand in front of his face and shake his head, and I was like, ‘Dude, what are you doing?’
It was ridiculous. And he’s like, ‘I’m doing the Yayo Dance.”
“I’m like, OK, I’ll do that on TV to pay homage to you liking the beat because I’m gonna go with this for the song. And he dared me, and on a dare I was like, yo, I’m definitely doing it.
So instead of doing the Yayo Dance, I kind of did this reverse… because I figured it would be more visible to show my brother on TV, like, ‘Hey I’m doing the thing that you dared me to do!’
And ‘You can’t see me!’ is kind of a way to talk smack in hip-hop culture, like you’re not on my level, so I kind of put the two and two together, just really trying to make one person in West Newbury, Massachusetts laugh.”
What may have started out as a family joke soon took the world by storm and saw John Cena enter a new phase of fame – meme fame:
“Now we come to the internet and the internet was like, ‘We can’t see this guy.’ I don’t know why… I became like invisible and the cool joke was either if I was in a picture I wasn’t, they’d be like OK, this is just a chair talking to you!
Or people would take their picture with John Cena, which was simply like, pointing at nothing, or if nothing was there, they’d be like, yo I can’t believe John Cena crashed our party.”
“I did an interview before this where the audio technician pinned the mic on me and when he’s pinning the mic on me he’s like, ‘I didn’t know how to see where to put it.’
And I never get offended, I love hearing it, I think it’s extremely creative, it’s something that’s been in the internet cycle for so long, but it still never gets old.”