John Cena was a guest on Chris Hardwick’s ID10T podcast recently (the episode dropped last weekend to coincide with the release of The Suicide Squad, but it was recorded shortly after Money in the Bank).
The two men’s hour-long conversation covers topics like defining success, learning from failure, setting goals, and dealing with a busy schedule - it’s Cena in his introspective Twitter mode, not his irreverent Instagram one.
pro wrestling sports entertainment-related observation comes after Hardwick talked about how people will focus on the result someone’s achieved without focusing on the work they did to achieve it. That gave Cena the chance to address what he says is a misconception about his WWE success.
People inside and outside the business have believed Cena was treated differently backstage than other performers throughout his WWE career. Cena’s always rejected the idea, often bringing up how he was almost fired early in his career as an example of how he didn’t have (or didn’t always have) an advantageous position.
The 2021 version of Cena addressing the claim is very diplomatic, but it’s still about hustle, loyalty, and respect:
“I heard it so much in WWE, ‘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, I’m consistent night in after night out, 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 anyone’s struggle, and I have learned to appreciate everyone’s struggle, and everyone has a different struggle. I can understand where those feelings come from. You can have those feelings when you’re done analyzing yourself and saying like, ‘Yo, am I at max capacity? Am I doing - if I really want to wear those shoes and put on those jorts, am I at max capacity? Or did I party too much?’ Or, 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, you know? But the by-product was I got some wonderful opportunities. Now I’m dealing with a landslide of stuff and rebuilding myself as a man, and as a human being.”
Whether or not you believe Cena didn’t have a privileged position compared to the locker room rank-and-file, this answer does show growth, which is the recurring theme of his chat with Hardwick. There have been times in the past when it seemed Cena thought everyone should work as hard as he did for WWE. He’s now recognizing that as a choice he made, one that’s not for everybody, and that had benefits & consequences.