John Cena recalled announcing the death of Osama bin Laden to the live crowd after Extreme Rules in 2011, believing that the show had gone off the air when he shared the news.
Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was captured and killed by the American Navy SEAL Team Six on May 2, 2011. On that same night, WWE held its third annual edition of Extreme Rules in Tampa, FL, and news of bin Laden’s death broke near the end of the pay-per-view.
Top star and newly crowned WWE Champion John Cena took on the responsibility of informing the crowd in attendance that the terrorist had been killed.
“I walk out here every night with hustle, loyalty, and respect on my sleeve. That is a credo I have adopted from the men and women who defend the freedom of this country. We have caught and compromised to a permanent end Osama bin Laden.”
As USA chants rang out throughout the crowd, John Cena continued, expressing his pride in being an American on that day.
“This is something tonight, and I feel damn proud to be an American.”
John Cena spoke about the iconic moment with Pardon My Take, saying that he was being fed the news of this huge world event live just after it happened, and he wanted the audience to know what had occurred.
“We are talking this is a piece of news that shook the United States to its very core with the events of 9/11. I thought it was something that people should know. Like, ‘okay, I know this information now, I am in front of this audience. They should know this.’ I just tried to think of a way to convey the message. To make it as digestible as possible and that’s what popped into my head.”
Continuing, John Cena made it clear that he didn’t give the speech for the pay-per-view broadcast as he believed they were already off the air. Instead, he wanted those live in the arena who may not have instant access to news to know that a major world event had taken place.
“To be in a position where people pay attention to your message. There’s no doubt, like I said that’s a moment that had a ton of gravity. I didn’t do it for the broadcast, I thought we were off air. I just did it literally for the people in the arena. Because if you’re on the broadcast you can click and find the news elsewhere. So I just really did it for the live people in the arena that may not have instant access to that piece of information.”
The news broke after John Cena defeated The Miz and John Morrison in a triple threat cage match in the main event of Extreme Rules, capturing his 8th WWE Championship when he pinned former champion The Miz after an Attitude Adjustement from the top rope.
WWE is no stranger to world events affecting their broadcasts. On September 13th 2001, WWE held SmackDown at the Compaq Center in Houston, Texas. The episode had been due to be taped on September 11th, but was broadcast live two days later as a tribute to those impacted by the attacks in New York.
The show marked the first large-scale public gathering to take place after the attacks and featured tributes from WWE personalities throughout the broadcast.