Corey Graves Recalls Receiving The "John Cena Death Stare"

On a recent episode of After The Bell, Corey Graves interviewed John Cena, who shared his favorite match of all time, and shared some wisdom with Graves at the end of the podcast. Graves and Cena also discussed Cena's busy life in WWE and outside of WWE. However, Cena does not see his career as a grind as Graves asks and talks about how he chose to do the things that he does and doesn't feel burdened by his schedule.


"That it's not a grind. That's all bulls–t. It's just not. Man, life isn't easy in general. No matter fortunate or unfortunate we are, life has its ups and downs. I play dress-up. That's it. The work I have to do to play dress-up is travel a lot, and I have to give up certain sacrifices of what has been dictated as a 'normal life.' But everybody consistently, the question I hear the most, how did you do it all? How do you continue to do it all? I only do things that I dig, and I just really dig WWE," Cena said. "From the second I got here to doing an interview with FOX then doing another thing for Backstage to wanting to meet you in person and wanting to do the interview in person and not on the phone and going to sign a bunch of stuff and doing three Make-a-Wish's and then finally at 6:00 or 8:00 get the piece of business I'm supposed to do by 10:00. My brain isn't exploding because I chose to do all those things."


Cena gets blunt about talent who criticize the WWE schedule telling them to just quit. He goes on to talk about how he has never had a bad day in WWE despite any mistakes or poor performances.

"[People] consistently harp on the schedule of WWE. The WWE is more aware of its schedule and asks of the talent than ever before. Talent can take as much time off as they want, but there's the intrinsic battle of us like I don't want to lose relevancy [and] I'd like to make a good living out of this. So it's the push-pull and my thing is when people get in the place where they complain about the schedule and the grind, just don't do it. Just don't do it, and I really can never remember a distinctive bad day at work," Cena admitted. "I can remember tons of bad matches. I can remember getting booed. I can remember crickets. I can remember missing my mark not telling a good story, but I honestly cannot remember a bad day at work. That's pushing me forward in film and other ventures I'm doing. I will only sign up for the stuff that I enjoy, so I have very few bad days at the office."

Cena starred in Bumblebee and will eventually join the Fast and Furious franchise with Fast 9 and the DC Universe with The Suicide Squad. He talked about his first attempt at movies in the late 2000s and how there was a belief between himself and his agent that he would never be in movies again after failing.


"That would be like a general interviewer being like, 'so the wrestling thing, is that something you've aspired to do for a long time?' No, none of this. This is all just bonus. Somebody was foolish enough to hand me a lottery ticket, and I was smart enough to take it. I could never have told you like, 'yeah, I want to be in film,' especially after I tried it early in my career and bombed enough times where literally in 2008, my very close friend, Dan Baime, who's also my agent, I literally looked at him like, 'hey man, we're never doing movies again huh?' This is my agent, and he's like, 'nope. We're not. We're just gonna have to find other stuff.' That's when we pivoted into trying to host. I discussed what it is that I like because this is a time-sensitive profession, so I like a live audience. I like keeping people entertained. I like to talk. So we came up with stuff like that, and through those opportunities, small parts came up through the movies. And now after Trainwreck which came out in 2013 so after seven years of trying, now some bigger parts are coming after seven years."

Cena related his struggles to get to where he is now in the film industry to WWE superstars who transition from the independent circuit to NXT. He talks about the journey that got them there and goes back to why he doesn't see his journey as a grind.


"A lot of superstars understand that struggle especially superstars who worked in the independent circuit. Everybody sees them show up in NXT and maybe get a wonderful ovation like, 'man, you made,' and they're like, 'yeah but you don't know about all the other ones where I was driving in my car, splitting trams four-ways and staying a motel by the hour.' That's a real thing. So I never thought I would be doing any of this, and I guess that's also a reason why I don't think it's a grind because I never thought I would be doing any of it."

Graves shared a story about the first time he met Cena. He reveals that Cena had given him a stare prompting Colt Cabana to say that Cena hated Graves by giving him "the John Cena death stare".

"I was on the independents and was getting booked as an extra as we often did, and I was in Chicago. It was the first time I ever encountered you, and I believe it was from afar. You were in catering, and we made eye-contact very briefly. And there was really nothing said or exchanged because it was from a distance. And Colt Cabana was with me, and he goes, 'what did you do to Cena?' And I go, 'I don't know man, but I got that stare.' He goes, 'Cena hates you,' and it became this ongoing rib. I feel like it was one of those things I expected. It was in my head. So from then on, anytime I see you, even years down the road, I'm like I don't know what I did to this guy, but this guy hates me. Meanwhile you probably had no idea who I am, but Cabana ribbed me for years about that, and it became 'the John Cena death stare.' I get to FCW, and that's when we encountered each other at the gym. It was kind of like, 'oh John's not such a bad guy,' but I always carried that with me for a long time. I can laugh about it now, but 'the John Cena death stare' was a real thing.


"Well, I apologize. Shame on you Colt Cabana for ribbing someone on their insecurities. It's not cool. Totally not cool."

If you use any quotes from this article, please credit After The Bell with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.