Veteran WWE Superstar John Cena recently spoke with Alfred Konuwa of Forbes and said he loves the current WWE product. Cena also chose to walk back previous comments he had made about today’s WWE product.
To catch up, Cena participated in a Q&A session at the Penguin Random House BookCon event back in June 2019, and answered questions on who he thought could be the next John Cena in WWE. Cena said he believes that there is not one particular person in WWE that will be the next Superstar, but instead a group of individuals leading a charge.
“I think the dynamic of the program is changing,” Cena said. “I think for the longest time, if you consider WWE a band, there’s always been one front person of the band. I think that dynamic is changing because the audience is too diverse. Older males are watching it, younger kids are watching it, females are watching it. With a diverse audience, it’s tough to universally please someone. In the 80s you had a family oriented program and Hulk Hogan was the frontman. In the 90s you had 18-35 [year old] males and in come Steve Austin and Dwayne Johnson because they hit right down that wheelhouse.
“Then there was me and even myself went through a polarizing stage where half the audience likes you and half the audience doesn’t. I don’t think there’s a universal figure that will lead the company forward. I think as the company grows, and especially expands globally, you’re going to have a Super Friends of the WWE which is like people who are essentially fighting for equal share of popularity. I think the band essentially will now have ten lead singers of every different race, creed, age, sex, and ethnicity. So, I believe that I was kind of the last of that. The landscape has changed so much that it’s now of a more group effort rather than an individual effort.”
Furthermore, Cena then appeared on WWE’s After The Bell podcast with host Corey Graves in April 2020, and gave his opinion on the state of WWE. He said the current era of WWE programming needs one defining figure, but doesn’t know if that figure can be produced.
“It needs what I’m not sure it can produce, and that’s…just the state of where everything is now, which is weird because it kind of always corrects itself so we’re in a day and age where it needs a frontman or woman,” Cena said. “It needs one, maybe two, definable characters to absolutely be the reason, and that’s what will be able to define what the era is because it takes on those personality traits of its top star. Like I said it before I don’t know if, all things considered, the crowd is so mixed, that if the company puts its faith behind an individual, the knee-jerk reaction of the audience, even if they liked the guy last week, is to say ‘f–k you, you’re not going to tell me who I like.’ So the audience is also tipping the scales of this not being able to happen. Universal popularity will never happen because someone will see it and get on to it and be like, ‘he seems to be getting popular, let’s stop this right now,’ or, ‘she seems to be getting popular let’s change this right now,’ and I’ve seen it happen with guys who are really darlings of that underground crew make it, and as soon as they make it, the rug is pulled out from under them.
“It’s difficult because it’s like a ‘Super Friends’, because the audience is so segmented, some people will embrace that underground dude. Some people will embrace the top person. Some people will embrace the midcard. Some people will embrace the cruiserweights, and then there’s the split between like, ‘I like SmackDown, I like RAW, I like NXT.’ It’s just really difficult to get one definable figure to stand at the front and be like, ‘okay let’s go.’ I mean, I don’t know, so I don’t know. That’s where the business is, and usually if it pushes too far in one way, the pendulum finds a way to come back, but I really don’t know because the program is so socially active, and your social emotions are not what they are in the arena. I know that first hand, dude. When you’re at the edge of your seat, and you’re lost in a championship fight and something happens and you think maybe a title is going to switch and it doesn’t, you stand and you catch yourself going, ‘nah,’ and you tweet like, ‘that was BS,’ or whatever. Your keyboard emotions aren’t necessarily the same as watching it live.”
Cena went on to discuss the current generation of WWE Superstars, giving a nod to guys like Braun Strowman, Sheamus, The New Day and WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns, among others. He also discussed why desperation if important, and if the current crop of talent has what it takes. You can click here to read his lengthy comments on the state of WWE from that interview.
In an update, the comments from the two aforementioned interviews were covered by Forbes in April 2020. In this new interview with Forbes’ Konuwa, Cena addressed the previous comments and the coverage they received, and walked them back, admitting he was wrong.
“What do I think of the WWE product right now? I love it,” Cena said. “I think it’s bold, it’s forcing people to take chances. Forbes did an article on me back in 2020 where I had said that I don’t believe that WWE will ever have a marquee star. And here we are, less than a year later, and I can blatantly say I was wrong.
“You wanna talk about being too close to the product? I was just too close. Having seen it, having lived it myself, I should have just realized that the company is in transition. It takes a long time—I would say it’s three-and-a-half years or more—to build a certain talent because I’ve walked in those shoes.”
Cena went on to praise Reigns, WWE Champion Drew McIntyre, and SmackDown Women’s Champion Sasha Banks. He said what WWE has now is not that scattered group of Super Friends he previously talked about in the older interviews.
“Now you have Drew McIntyre and Roman Reigns, Sasha Banks can be in that conversation, but it’s not what I said it was in 2020,” he continued. “It’s not a scattered fragment of Super Friends. WWE has just refocused, re-shifted and now is consolidating on marquee stars. They have their marquee stars, and going forward they will have their big names.
“As far as those names being larger than life, the enormity of their impact is up to the individuals themselves.”
Stay tuned for more.