John Cena’s live taping of Josh Horowitz’s Happy Sad Confused podcast was part of Cena’s promotional work for Fast X. But their hour+ long conversation covered a lot more than just Cena’s second outing as Jakob Toretto, which is in theaters this weekend.
WWE and pro wrestling/sports entertainment came up frequently, especially when Horowitz posed reader-submitted questions to the sixteen-time World champ. Questions like:
What was the most rewarding feud you ever had the opportunity to participate in during your career?
Names like Edge, Randy Orton, and even CM Punk spring to mind as classic Cena rivals, but it wasn’t any of them. Perhaps something more epic, like his WrestleMania-spanning program with fellow Fast & Furious family member The Rock? Or his various run-ins with the man who succeeded him as the Face of WWE, Roman Reigns?
Nope. Here’s Cena’s answer:
“I did a unique piece of programming called the Firefly Funhouse match. Which was like a giant exercise in vulnerability. I worked my ass off on that thing, and I thank everyone who was involved, because no one does it alone, but it was kind of my brainchild and my creation. I really wanted — you want to talk about looking in the mirror, that was kind of like a public look in the mirror. I’m glad we did it and, man, I’m glad it worked. I didn’t think anybody would get it. I kind of did it for me, and the pandemic happened, and the events were weird. But I’m really glad that people understood it, and there’s a lot of easter eggs in there too... I got to be in the nWo.”
In addition to that WrestleMania 36 “match” with Bray Wyatt, Cena went on to mention getting squashed by Undertaker at WrestleMania 34 after he spent most of that night in New Orleans sitting in the crowd. That’s also an unexpected choice, but Cena’s talked a lot over the years about how he loved watching the show with the audience.
The Firefly Funhouse answer caught me off guard as it wasn’t much more of a “feud” than it was a “match”. It was set-up by an exchange of nods and points between Cena and Wyatt’s alter ego The Fiend. We didn’t know what we’d be getting from the two men heading into that strange, early days of COVID, empty building ‘Mania. And when they were done, it took a while to figure out we’d been given.
It was basically a critical deconstruction of Cena’s career, and did more to pit him against his history & legacy than it did Wyatt. It was the kind of thing many of us associate with Bray, so that’s another surprising element of the answer — hearing it was Cena’s baby.
But maybe it really isn’t be surprising. Because as that quote and this whole interview again reminds us, Cena is big on self-reflection. He’s also got a weird sense of humor. Put those things together within the psychological horror-tinged children’s show playset Wyatt had already established on WWE television, and you get their cinematic contribution to WrestleMania 36.
Which, it turns out is one of the most rewarding things Cena’s done in his two decades and counting WWE career.