It’s been a busy few weeks for John Cena, even by his usual hustling standards.
He’s promoting Elbow Grease vs. Motozilla, the sequel to his bestselling children’s book, Elbow Grease. The Nickelodeon reboot of Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? he’s producing and hosting just debuted. And he’s getting ready to start filming his biggest Hollywood flick to date, Fast & Furious 9.
That means lots of press. Which means lots of sports entertainment-related questions for the 16 time WWE World champ. And while it’s certainly not a sudden change - Cena has been on WWE television less and less for the past couple years - more than ever, his answer sound like they’re coming from a former pro wrestler.
Take this one, to The Wrap:
“I’m older now, I just turned 42. I watch WWE on a regular basis and the talent is getting faster and more precise, and I’ve always been referred to as ‘unorthodox’ so I’m not exactly the most precise. They don’t need me, I am grateful for everyone who says ‘we miss you,’ and there was a time when I could genuinely say from a financial standpoint that they needed me, that time is up.”
It’s difficult to hear Cena worry about his ability to keep up with the current crop of full-time Superstars and not think about Undertaker & Goldberg’s match from last week in Saudi Arabia, where the fifty-something legends’ bodies clearly couldn’t execute the match they planned out in their heads. TMZ Sports asked Cena point blank about Super ShowDown’s main event, and the 42 year old admitted he thinks about if it’s already time for him to hang up the boots:
“I think an individual’s career is up to the individual. I think that’s pretty much the way I can describe that. I’ve been having the same conversation with myself and I’m only 42. But I - it’s something we’ve got to address each day. That’s individually specific. When those people are ready to stop, they’ll stop.”
But, as he’s always said, that doesn’t mean he’s leaving WWE. On Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, he tackled the retirement question a different way:
“That’s a tough question because I don’t think I’ll ever be disconnected from the WWE. I think whether it’s an on-camera role or an off-camera role, I don’t think the word ‘retire’ I’ll ever use that. I know that time is limited because it’s a physical performance-based thing and I’m 42, so I know that window is kind of coming to a close. But I don’t think I’ll ever be retired. I would love to be able to pass on the knowledge and wisdom that I have about live performances to up-and-comers and hopefully help people out.”
Cena’s not going anywhere - his transition to television and film is going as well as or better than anyone expected. He’ll be a pop culture fixture for the foreseeable future. But less and less of that future will take place on Raw, SmackDown or WWE Network... at least on screen, anyway.