Arn Anderson On The Three WWE Stars Vince McMahon Wanted At The Top Following The Attitude Era

CM Punk and John Cena were part of a memorable feud in 2011 that resulted in match at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view. Cena was the WWE Championship and Punk vowed to leave the company no matter the result. The finish surprised many, as Punk defeated John Cena to become the WWE Champion and left the company for several weeks as part of the storyline.

During a Q&A edition of his podcast, Arn, Arn Anderson discussed whose idea it was to put together the match

"Most of the final decision stuff then and now comes from the boss in the big chair," Anderson said. "I was probably there for a lot of the discussions just as far as the breakdown of the match, not all but some. Punk knew what he wanted to do and knew where he was headed, Cena knew what he wanted to do and where he was headed and most of that stuff was over my head."

The build to the match saw Punk deliver his famous "pipebomb" promo. Anderson credited the success of the promo to Punk having free reign to be himself.

"The pipe bomb promos just simply came from a guy who was given free reign to be himself, which is the way it should always be," Anderson stated. "The inability to allow a talent to do what he feels is going to inhibit his production. Always. Punk is a prime example of when you turn a guy loose and let him say what he feels, within parameters this is a PG product and live television, and it just got over, big time. And you saw the results."

During the show, Anderson was asked when he first recognized John Cena would become the next guy after Steve Austin and The Rock left the company.

"It was time to make changes," Anderson said. "We were coming out of the Austin / Rock era and those guys were going to be moving on and doing their own thing. We had to recreate a huge gaping hole as far as personalities and talents that were not only bigger than life but bigger than the business at the time. They had exceeded everything that had ever been done before. Rock and Austin when they were at their peak, my god. You could put Hogan in that same deal, but these guys were just different because they were 20-30 minute performers. Hulk had his deal, he had his fans, and their was Hogan faces on everything. But Austin and Rock, that was something special."

"We had a production meeting and Vince said 'Guys, we need to move on, here's the three guys that I want you to look at: Batista, John Cena and Randy Orton. It needs to be one of these or all of these guys but these are the guys we're going to go with.' I thought they were pretty good choices, they were very very green. Randy was a natural so he was going to come along quicker as far as work rate than Dave and Cena but Dave when he was the face of SmackDown, Dave was the man. Dave was red hot. Cena, when they finally decided he was going to be the guy, because he wasn't going anywhere, there were no negotiation issues, he was going to be there as long as they wanted him to be there. He ended being the face of the company being a baby face, staying a baby face. Randy's character took some trips back and forth, Dave was to go on and do some other things. They decided on [John Cena], we went with him, and every week it was a conscious decision on what was done on all of Cenas content, whatever he was doing on the show or backstage, there was a lot of thought given into it."

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit TheArnShow with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.