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John Cena bringing new reality show ‘WWE: Recruits’ to Roku

WrestleMania 39 Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Though obviously in the works before this week’s news about WWE’s future as part of Endeavor, the new John Cena-produced docuseries announced for Roku today (April 6) sounds like part of “the UFC playbook” Vince McMahon’s new bosses plan to use for WWE going forward.

WWE: Recruits will follow a group of young people as they pursue their dream of becoming WWE Superstars. The first comparison that comes to most wrestling fans’ minds is Tough Enough, the reality competition show where contestants compete for a WWE that’s gone through a few iterations over the past 20 years. But this eight-part series sounds more documentary and less The Challenge.

Filming is already underway, and material was taped last week during WrestleMania 39. There’s no host listed, another sign this isn’t Tough Enough, but Cena is one of several big names mentioned as appearing. Triple H, Big E, Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels & Bianca Belair are also listed in the press release. Seeing as all of those names except for Naitch have ties to the WWE Developmental program (and Flair could claim one since his daughter Charlotte is one the program’s earliest and biggest success stories), Recruits’ emphasis seems to be more on chronicling the existing path to a WWE career than making its cast play made-for-tv games for one.

WWE: Recruits follows a group of young men and women competing to earn one of the most sought-after titles in all of entertainment: WWE Superstar.

The eight-part docuseries invites viewers to experience the grueling training, personal triumphs, and life-changing moments of talented young men and women making their professional wrestling dreams a reality. Thousands of pro wrestling hopefuls will be narrowed down to an elite group of candidates going for the opportunity of a lifetime.

Quotes in the presser also present this as a more serious documentary effort. Here’s Cena:

Millions around the world watch and dream of it, but only a handful of extraordinary individuals can become a WWE Superstar. I am so excited to bring WWE: Recuits to The Roku Channel and look forward to giving viewers an exclusive all-access perspective on how the WWE turns the dreams of talented young people into a reality.”

And Roku Channel’s head of adventure and exploration programming Sean Boyle:

“Roku Original series WWE: Recruits not only unpacks how the WWE transforms unknown athletes into world-renowned stars, but also invites audiences into the lives of an unforgettable group of young people chasing their ultimate dream. We could not be more excited to work with the icon himself, John Cena, as our executive producer and our outstanding partners, the WWE and A. Smith & Co Productions, to share the untold story of this high-stakes world.”

A. Smith & Co. Productions is the company behind reality shows like American Ninja Warrior & Hell’s Kitchen — so there very well may be some additional competition elements beyond what a normal WWE prospect goes through.

WWE: Recruits puts WWE original, non-in-ring content on another network/streamer, joining series already available or in the works at NBCUniversal, FOX, A&E, and Netflix.

Is it a winning strategy? That depends on how interested you are to seek out these shows. Will you be looking for WWE: Recruits?

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