John Cena is on the press trail promoting Fast X, in which he’s back for his second outing as the Fast & Furious franchise’s latest heel-turned-babyface, Jakob Toretto.
Promotional duties took him to Busted Open, where he talked to Dave LaGreca and Bully Ray about the movie and his career in Hollywood — but also a lot of wrestling.
Reflecting on his recent return at WrestleMania 39, Cena reiterated what he’s been saying for years. His days as a full-time pro wrestler/sports entertainer are over:
“Man, I wish I was still there everyday. My body can’t do it anymore, and I don’t want to give the consumer a bad product. That’s another thing that I learned from those veterans at the time, guys like Eddie [Guerrero] just would risk so much. And he’s like, ‘I’m never gonna give the consumer a bad product.’ I don’t care how I feel. I don’t care how I feel physically. I don’t care what baggage I have mentally. When I’m on, they paid good money and I’m gonna go out there and give everything I have and sometimes find it when it’s not there.’
“I’m at a point where everything I have in comparison to the bar that’s been set [by the current roster]?. What I have is what you saw at WrestleMania 39. That’s what I feel confident that I can deliver, and that’s really nice for here and there. That’s not every day in the WWE. That’s not every day in sports entertainment. Sports entertainment has raised the bar and I’m humble enough to say that’s awesome. Because you’re supposed to leave it better than you found it, and the people are supposed to advance it.”
That discussion came about from talking about “passing the torch”. Cena doesn’t really believe in the concept, and used his 2017 program with Roman Reigns as proof:
“You don’t pass it to anybody. You just hope to put energy out there and anyone with potential can get it. It was said that I passed the torch to Roman years ago, and he absolutely is the face of the franchise. In my mind, he’s the greatest of all time. I tried to do what I could, and when I did it, it wasn’t the miracle. Like, it didn’t happen. He got it on his own terms.”
Cena continued to praise Reigns throughout the interview. In explaining why he holds Roman’s run as “Face of the WWE” above his own also led to more talk of how the top guy can elevate those he works with. Cena appreciates how the Tribal Chief can “put energy out there” for so many talents at once, and do so without having to even be on the show:
“My personal number one, I think right now, Roman Reigns has to be considered strongly. What he’s done with the championship, what he’s done as essentially a select event performer, he’s redefined how you do it. And not only that, the reason I really rest a lot of accolades on Roman’s shoulders — and I’ve told him this personally, so it’s not something I’m talking around him with — his ability to pass energy to more than himself, I haven’t seen since the Four Horseman. But the differences between him and Ric [Flair] is that Ric was always there. And that’s brilliant. I’m an always there guy, I like to always be there...
“I love that Roman did it his way. He did it his own way by crafting his own personality. He did it his own way by redefining what it is to be at the tip of the spear. He is there selectively. He has made himself exclusive and in doing so, he’s brought like eight people with him. He’s allowed the whole Bloodline to get over. So with me, if you put me in that conversation, I could only help the person that I was working with while I was working with him.”
That also allowed him to (kind of) address his reputation for burying talent, which arose again after his promo battle with Austin Theory in the build to Theory’s ‘Mania win:
“The reputation I had — in the sauce, while I was in it — was that I buried talent, because I would really invest my whole heart in this. I sat with Austin Theory for like 10 hours. Not wasted a day, invested a day, to talk about our ‘Why?’ Like, what’s our story gonna be? And I would do that with everyone. I live it. My heart‘s on the plate. But after they were with me, they didn’t take that energy with them, but I gave it to the next guy.
“So okay, who’s next? It was AJ and now it’s Kevin Owens. Alright, ‘Kevin, come here. We’re gonna sit down for two weeks and just talk about stuff. Then we’re gonna go out there and try some crazy stuff, see what works, and then put our best foot forward.’ Kevin’s done, Sami, no problem.
“What Roman does, just being affiliated with his energy, he gets so many people over. That’s something I could never do. Ever. Period. Like, you’re with me and you got a chance when you’re there, but a lot of times you went off to do stuff that wasn’t looked at in the same way, and then the perception of the audience is, ‘Oh my god, he buried him.’
“Winning and losing doesn’t matter. I haven’t won a match in five years. It doesn’t matter. Roman’s ability to be that good, to spread his energy so thin that he makes other talent, and do it exclusive. That’s the difference between Ric. Ric was always the centerpiece. Roman has off days. but he’s still there, like, his presence is so great. I think that’s never been done. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
With regards to his own reputation, I’m not sure I buy Cena’s logic here. Did Wade Barrett struggle after Nexus’ angle with Cena because he didn’t take the energy with him, or because he wasn’t given very good material to work with? Some responsibility has to fall on the performer, but there’s only so much someone can do — especially when they don’t have management’s ear the way Cena or Reigns do.
But this isn’t the first time John’s espoused his “pull yourself up by your bootstraps, young fella” philosophy of life in the WWE, so we don’t need to re-litigate that.
But you can if you want. Head down to the comments, where you can also let us know what you think of Cena’s analysis of Roman’s reign.
You can heard Cena’s entire visit with Busted Open here.