The 16-time world champion was a guest on Jimmy Traina's SI Media Podcast yesterday, and Cena opened up about the reputation he has garnered over the years as someone that held people back. John elaborated on what his exact thoughts were regarding the matter, and also about him staying away from the ring.
"I don't care about the reputation I have", Cena revealed. "What I care about is the performance I give. But the easiest way to just silence that problem is to take me out of the equation. Here's the crazy thing, all the people that have chastised me for staying around too long, are now chastising me for not being around. (It's) also a great exercise to know that you will never be able to please these people, because they always need something to be cynical about. I guess that's why they are called critics.
"But I'm very happy now, because it truly is… it's like it was in 2002, when Randy and Dave and Brock and myself and Shelton… those guys came up and everybody left. We changed the name of the company, the XFL had failed. A bunch of Superstars left, and now you are left with these new guys, and it's like sink or swim. And we just happened to have a very, very talented group of individuals, and it was a long, long swim. I mean the stock was at 7 bucks for a long time, and now the fruits of our labor are kind of showing, and the company is bigger than it has ever been. So I'm very excited for all the Superstars now.
"I hope they understand in perspective, as Randy is towards the end of his run, Dave obviously has had tremendous success in the movie business, he's another (one) that has transcended the industry and deserves his just due. My days as a full-timer are certainly numbered, and that has nothing to do with extracurricular activities. I just… as a 41-year old I can't do it. If you look at anybody in my shoes… Chris Jericho had taken a break, Hulk Hogan had certainly taken a break. I think the only guy that may fall into that category of not taking a break is Flair. But Austin had already been done, Rock was already done.
"So people are like, 'Where are you going man?' I'm 41!"
John was then asked about the problems Roman Reigns has been facing to get over with the WWE fans, and Cena shouldered some responsibility for Roman's struggles.
"Roman has it tough. I kind of ruined this for everybody; the content and the format change did. Attitude Era was male 18-35. And our program still draws males 18-35. But we're a PG program. Which means your audience is a six year old. I don't say don't cater to the male 18-35, but your audience starts at six or younger. So you have to give them essentially Shrek or Cars, or the Lego movie. Sometimes 18-35 year old dudes don't want to watch the Lego movie. Don't think there's not a second in my mind that our audience isn't six. Our audience is so mixed that there's never going to be a good guy that appeals to everyone.
"Even if it's someone that the fans endorse and become the guy; it's a thing where the fans are like, 'Okay, you as a company are going with this guy? No you're not because we get to choose!' When Roman was with The Shield, everybody loved him. He didn't really change much. He was soft spoken, his actions spoken for him, he performs incredibly well. Yet there's a giant uprising because a lot of it is, 'You can't tell us what to like.' And that's okay; it's just tough waters to navigate as a company and it is tough to build stars. You have to look at your consumers and the analytics. People really like Roman Reigns. And the numbers are there to prove it."
Cena then talked about his rivalry with Reigns, and how Reigns evolved as a performer during their program.
"Letting Roman know that there is another level to the game. And if you don't step up to that level, you don't have the right to call yourself someone at that level. That's what my job with Roman was supposed to be. The great thing with Roman is that he understood that and was open to it. You want to talk about being vulnerable and letting it all hang out. He got his teeth knocked out verbally and shot back with what I thought was one of his best performances. Over the story arc of five weeks, he did learn. There were slip-ups at the beginning, but by the end it was one of his best emotional investments in a program he's been in."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit SI Media Podcast with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription. You can listen to the entire podcast episode below.