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John Cena talks his ‘hang up’ with Roman Reigns as WWE’s top star and locker room complacency

WWE Network

John Cena’s relationship with the other members of the WWE Universe has always been speculated on, but in the past few years, it’s become the on-screen story, too.

That’s never been more true than in his current program with Roman Reigns, which has essentially been a behind-the-scenes tale of whether The Big Dog is ready to takeover Cena’s job as the company’s top man.

It’s something he addressed directly with Edge and Christian in his appearance on the latest E&C’s Pod of Awesomeness. Before addressing the build to their match at No Mercy though, Cena updated some thoughts he’s conveyed before about the boys in the back grabbing Vince McMahon’s proverbial brass ring:

“The amount of complacency is staggering. I mean, these guys are all so gifted and there's never been a better time, ever, to make a name for yourself in WWE. With all of the platforms that we have, with Raw, with SmackDown, with NXT, we're increasing our number of pay-per-views, we're throwing so much content at the Network it's obscene. We have so many guys who have so many chances I just don't get it.

You guys certainly know better than I do because I came in on the tail end of like 'hey, man, everybody is just going to have to quit for me to even get a chance.' I got my chance by mistake, and I knew that. You guys were in the thick of it with Rock and Austin and Taker and Triple H and D-X and the show is so freaking stacked you're lucky to get out there for a couple seconds.

I think nowadays we have the reverse where the Superstars are in such a 'well, I'm just going to wait to see what they have for me' when that's not what it is. I totally agree with that. You get a rough outline, you get such a basic character sketch, and you get all this freedom to make it your own, and I'm not just blowing smoke. In the promos with me and Roman, I've just... when I feel something I'm going to say it. If they react to something, I'm going to poke the bear even more.

So it's not like 'oh, he's sitting on this high hill and not practicing what he preaches.' Every single day I go out there and take those chances. That's the reason why I got to where I was at. It's the same with you guys. There came a time when you had to stand up and define yourselves. You guys did very, very well at that but nobody wrote that for you guys, that was you."

When Edge made note of the fact that a key thing for a wrestler to do is establish a relationship with McMahon, so he can know what he's investing in and you can start kicking ideas around with him, Cena tacked on with:

"Here's the great thing about Vince: He will explain everything. So a lot of guys go down the creative process and they get upset, and they just put their head down, and they say 'X, Y, and Z,' and that's that. If you're really that upset, go to the person you work for just simply ask the question 'Why? Why are we doing this?' Because 99 times out of 100 when Vince will tell you 'hey, this is the creative ethos behind this thought' you walk away going 'okay, that helps me out, I can do it.'"

Christian mentioned that it can be nervewracking to approach Vince in that way and Cena even pushes back against that:

"Man, I don't understand the nervewracking of it all. So the Titanic is you get fired, that's the worst scenario, but we are in the business right now of holding onto a lot of guys. So like I said, and I mean this, there's never been a better chance for someone to be a WWE Superstar, a WWE megastar, than right now. It is wide open, throttle wide open, foot to the floor. If you ever thought you could do it, step up right now.

And I don't know... I think these guys just feel a piece of the system rather than this creative force that... man, you guys both know there's not a better feeling than being out there when everything clicks and everything goes right. And no one can write that for you, no one can produce that for you, no one can create that behind a curtain for you. That deals with gut decisions and passion and YOUR creativity. It has to come from the individual. And I'm not, once again, I'm not saying that we don't have great talent -- as a matter of fact, I've said that guys have more talent now than I've ever seen. I just think it's the ability to apply creativity to their skillset. I think that's what's missing."

What does all this have to do with Reigns? Cena isn’t saying The Big Dog is one of the complacent ones, but he does have issues with Roman as a performer, and others not stepping up to bring the best out of Reigns has led to where he has to be the one to do it:

“In a very legitimate sense my biggest hang up with Roman Reigns as the frontrunner of the WWE is the fact that he seems to lack in his ability to communicate with the audience. It's not that he can't, because I know Roman. Socially, he's a great guy. He has a presence that's undeniable, so I know it's there. Just nobody has had the nuts to try to bring it out of him, nobody.

So my job in the WWE is to either be the best or be a vehicle for the best. I was going to go out there and rip that kid every single week until he said 'enough.' I thought his promo on Monday was brilliant.”

Cena’s not the only one who thought Roman reached his next level this past Monday.

Is he right in thinking that others can get there too if they just take more risks and create their own opportunities? Or is there more to it than that for guys who aren’t The Protoype or The Guy?

Check out the whole episode of E&C’s Pod of Awesomeness - it is chock full of interesting stuff from Cena. Stay tuned for more posts on Cageside Seats with our take on and great discussion of his comments.

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