If his showdown with The Rock on Sunday will be the biggest match of his career: "Absolutely. And amazingly enough, there is no physical championship on the line. But I truly believe anyone who's everyone knows that it Is Number One versus Number One.
"Honestly, I don't wanna say it's like another day at the office 'cause it's not. But not only have I been in high-profile matches, I've been in some pretty hostile crowds as well. Like everybody's like, Ooh! You worried it's Miami? It's The Rock's backyard! I've been in Hammerstein ballroom in New York facing the ECW faithful, I've face Edge in Toronto in a TLC ladder match, I've faced CM Punk in Chicago in Money in the Bank. I've been in some pretty savvy home crowds. This one's gonna be fun. The year is over, it's now to the point where we're counting down the hours. This is really cool! It's gonna be fun."
Mixed crowd reactions: "Well, it's always been back and forth. And in the entertainment business—what's the line in Batman? "You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain."—I've been here ten years; people have the way they feel about you. I've never been one to shun people feeling negative, and I think that I'm the first guy to do that, to not "turn heel" when they boo you. I kind of embrace it as, You are the ticket-buyer, do as you please. And just as we've seen the waves go one way, they go crashing back another way. It'll change, it'll go back and forth, but the one thing that'll remain constant is who I am and what I stand for.
"It's been a wonderful ride. I think it's something you have to tune in to Raw every week to see what are they gonna do with Cena this week. It's been wonderful, and along the same vein, it lets our audience be honest. We're not preaching a program that is untrue to anybody. If you like this guy, cheer for him; if you don't like this guy, boo him, but feel however you want about him. It's a never-been-done-before scenario. It's been a hell of a ride for me.
"I think that's the most important thing when people ask why don't I change who I am? Because I know there are mass majority from the "Attitude Era" that will want me strung up and burned as a witch. But for every guy who says "Cena sucks!" there is a mom or a dad who will come up to me privately and say, "Thank you for being a good role model for my kids." And there's the kids: You're eight-year-old daughter, her friends, the little kids that I meet, their friends, the Make-A-Wish families that I meet. I think to be a bad guy in this business, you've gotta be a genuinely bad guy. As long as we have those families showing up, I'm gonna be who I am. And I think that's most important, and that's why I don't care that there's a split in the crowd."
This year's WrestleMania build-up: "It's been extremely hard. Especially on me, it's been a lot of pressure; it's been very mentally draining. But after the last Monday in Atlanta, I took a deep breath, thought about it, and realized that I couldn't possibly do anymore to build up April 1st. I think it is the biggest it can be. People realize what's at stake. Not only do they realize it's a marquee matchup—we have a lot of those—but they realize that I really don't like the guy that I'm facing, which, in our business, is becoming more and more rare. It's everything that a big fight is supposed to be."
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