When the Screen Actor’s Guild joined the writer’s union in striking against movie & television studios for a new contract, there was a lot of speculation about if it would lead to wrestlers-turned-Hollywood stars like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Dave Bautista and John Cena would return to WWE while much of the rest of the entertainment industry was shut down.
Two of the three did. Despite indications to the contrary from his long-time creative partner Brian Gewirtz, Johnson made a one-off appearance on Sept. 15. Cena returned for an extended run, which might continue beyond the initially announced two months with the actors still on strike (the writer’s got a deal they could live with in late September).
Even though pro wrestlers are famously not unionized, many wondered how The Rock and Cena’s presence on WWE television worked given they’re also SAG members. During his appearance on this week’s special 200th episode of WWE’s After The Bell podcast, Cena explained to Corey Graves & Kevin Patrick that he got the Guild’s approval for his comeback.
Asked how his return came to happen, the 16 time WWE World champ responded:
“Well, that’s certainly a happening that’s beyond my control. So, I’m fortunate enough to have a lot of things on the movie and television side lined up — one of which I can’t talk about.
“We’re in the middle of a labor dispute. Then, the labor dispute happens and Screen Actors Guild decides as an entirety to go on strike which either leaves me idle or asking questions of, ‘Well, what can I do? What is within my control?’ And I wanted to see if it was okay to come back to tour so, we called the proper people at SAG, we got written, legal okay that it would be okay to come back to WWE and once I had that, then I could ask the question of, ‘Hey WWE, do you guys want me to come back and hang out for a little bit?’ So, here we are.”
If his current WWE run does continue — now or during a future break from his busy acting career, Cena thinks the possibilities are endless for what he could still do in wrestling. Asked what’s left for him do considering the company already touts him as one of their greatest ever stars, Cena said:
“Dude, the great thing about WWE is there’s always another show and there’s always something to accomplish. I think individuals tend to look at it selfishly. Can I win a 17th championship? I haven’t won the Intercontinental Championship. I wanna win another Money in the Bank, I wanna win another Royal Rumble.
“It could be like — I’d like to help Roman Reigns become a larger, global phenomenon. I would like to be Austin Theory’s mentor, I would like to do as many live events as I possibly can because physically, I’m able to do them and just give the yield of trying to give whatever I have left to an audience that cares while they care.
“I don’t look at accomplishments in a perspective of, ‘I need to win another championship, I need to do this.’ I just need a chance to get out there in any capacity and then I want to be able to take that — ‘Okay, what’s the hand I’ve been dealt? Alright. I’m gonna try to play this the best I can.’ I don’t think I’ll ever run out of things to possibly accomplish.
“The sad struggle that I have every day is I’m 46, I’ll be 47 in April and everyone is so skilled — I can’t do the things I used to do anymore. And I don’t know if you’ve been watching my stuff but I don’t do that much. So, I also wanna be able to contribute to the WWE and then walk away from it and I mean walk away from it. Not all hunched over and not broken and beaten, but appreciative & healthy and with a perspective of this is a great chapter in the story of my life and one that has made me who I am.”
And while he will be the one who decides when it is time for him to walk away, company man John will let WWE make decisions about how he ends his time in the ring:
“I love that question because again — there’s a lot of different perspectives, right? Anyone else sitting here would probably craft a scenario where, ‘Oh, in my mind, the perfect thing to do is this, at this event, with this individual.’ I just want to do what’s best for WWE.
“That has been my order of operations since I walked in this building. It hasn’t changed. It’s my way of thinking, but it’s done me pretty well. So I think when I’m courageous enough to express to those making choices, like, ‘Hey, this is it’, I’ll do what they tell me to do because I believe in full faith that they are doing what’s best for business.
“So whenever it comes to an end — and it will — whatever is deemed the best thing for the WWE is exactly what will be the perfect moment. Period.”
You can check out the rest of Graves & Patrick’s conversation with Cena on After The Bell here.