John Cena Shares Thoughts On Recent WWE Releases

In an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show, WWE star and Peacemaker actor John Cena was asked about the recent amount of cuts made by WWE over the past two years. Cena, who noted he came up during a time when WWE made bi-annual cuts, suggested that WWE's lack of cuts for years, as well as hiring as much talent as possible (a move Cena admitted might have been slightly defensive) led to this being a shock.

"There's a lot to unpack there," Cena said. "I will say this. When I started in the WWE, the WWE had just absorbed WCW and ECW, and also had two developmental territories. The rosters were abundant is probably a good word. When I started in WWE, there were releases twice a year. And it created stakes for developmental talent and it created stakes for talent to try and make a name for themselves. Because we just knew. We knew in a calendar year, shortly after WrestleMania and either before or after the holidays, there would be cuts. There always were. And that seemed to stop right around when we really began to redefine ourselves with our new school, Ruthless Aggression era style of characters of me, Brock, Randy, Dave.

"When those guys began to anchor in and develop programs going into the next decade or more, and we started to expand our reach, we started to have more programming. The talent rosters started to get big. And I think a lot of it, WWE's hiring strategy, I think a lot of it might've, and once again I'm not thinking for the WWE. This is just me posing a different perspective. I think a lot of it might  have been a little slightly defensive hiring. Because there was, and still is, a giant boom right now in sports entertainment. People are absorbing this content, they're engaging. People are making a name for themselves outside of the WWE, it's no longer a one stop shop. So I think with this flux of passionate people who love sports entertainment, people do get a name for themselves outside of WWE. If the WWE feels that maybe they can be a fit in that world, they're going to try to give that person a shot. They're also really bullish on continuing to hire new talent."

Continuing on his point that WWE, particularly the NXT brand, may be overcrowded, John Cena also shared a story about being at the show where Steve Austin was fired, and realizing that if Austin could be fired, anyone could. At the end of the day, Cena realizes it's a business and decisions will be made with that in mind.

"The NXT Performance Center is, I don't want to say overwhelmed, but they're at max capacity," Cena said. "So you have all of these performers, and a lot of them aren't getting a chance to perform. And I think that's the real frustrating thing, both to the WWE and the stance of the performers. And unfortunately at the end of the day, it is a business. And I remember when I started in WWE, I want to use the word fortunate. I was fortunate enough to be at the show in Atlanta where Stone Cold Steve Austin was fired. And that moment right there, it shot through me like a cannon. Because I got the impression 'if they can fire Stone Cold Steve Austin, unless your name is Vince McMahon, everyone is replacable.'

"I think a lot of the frustration from the audience out there is they view sports entertainment like I do. I love watching matches, I love seeing potential in human beings, I love seeing potential in performers. And I see potential in everybody, especially when people begin to defy what they woud call a gimmick or a personality. I love to be able to try to run on with it on conversations and see how far we can take it. But there is only so many spots, there is only so much programming. And I understand, from a business standpoint, the amount of releases that have had to happen, if the company justifies that 'hey, this is the move we're making. We want to carry less talent', it has very little to do with profit loss margin."

Ultimately, while he recognized that every journey has an end, John Cena admitted he felt bad for all the people who got let go from WWE, especially since it means they're not able to use "their gift" as he called it. He once again emphasized that the abrupt shift in WWE going from hiring to firing people will impact how people see things in this regard.

"I know obviously this a touchy subject and it's going to elicit perspective from everyone, and everyone is entitled to their perspective," Cena said. "I think the sad thing here is people who have this gift aren't being allowed to use it and people are out of a job. And that is the absolute saddest thing, that people no longer can work for a company they called home for a period of time. I feel for everybody who's had to go in that direction. But all of us, myself included, our journey will eventually have an end. And when you're in it sometimes, you don't always have that perspective.

"I personally, from my early days in the WWE, always had the perspective that it could be over tomorrow for any or all of us. Because if they can fire Steve Austin, there's no way I'm even close to his ability. And that means they can fire me. But that's just the culture I was brought up in. I was brought up in biannual cuts and it happened all the time. I think that WWE went through such a long period of not releasing anybody, and now they're kind of getting back into that rhythm again. And it's a really abrupt shift to someone who's not familar with that. And my heart goes out to everybody who has to get that sad news, because that's a tough conversation to have."

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