Originally published in The Kingston Whig-Standard. All rights reserved.
Some people attend a school of business. Others are enrolled in the school of hard knocks. For John Cena, one of the bright young stars in World Wrestling Entertainment, it’s all about the school of thuganomics.
The WWE’s wrestling spinoff of rapper Eminem has taken talking trash to previously uncharted territory. And he did it by chance.
“The way that [the WWE creative team] came up with the idea was kind of like a chance circumstance,” Cena told No Holds Barred yesterday.
“There’s a group of us in the locker room who like hip hop music, and to pass the time on an overseas trip we started to freestyle. Everybody was on the bus, including the creative department. Members of the creative department listened to me freestyle and they thought it would be a good idea to throw it on TV.”
Like many wrestlers, Cena says his schtick is nothing more than an amplified version of himself.
“Everybody thinks it’s like a character or a gimmick or stuff like that. It’s extremely cliche,” Cena said.
“For me, I am what you see on TV, except the volume is turned up a little bit.
“[The creative team] lets me go a little bit over the top on TV. It started out pretty much as a joke, but now on TV what you see is what you get. That’s me. It’s no gimmick. It’s no character. I write all my own stuff. They don’t write anything for me. I try to put as much attention into the raps as I do into a match, because I really think it’s important that hip hop is finally getting represented on WWE programming.”
The WWE may be hip to Cena’s thuganomics, but not all fans are. This doesn’t bother Cena.
“In the land of heels and faces, I’m supposed to be a heel,” Cena said. “The way I [approach it] is ‘I’m coming out, I’m doing my thing. If you don’t like me, go ahead and tell me you don’t like me.’
“But if you like me, I’m not going to hate on you. If you’re one of those people who say ‘You suck, you can’t rap,’ I’ll be right down your throat to make fun of you, in the worst possible way.
“But if you’re one of those people throwing up the double horns or down with thuganomics, I’m not going to hate on you.”
Fans alone do not a superstar make, and Cena admits he’s had a lot of help from great performers while climbing the corporate ladder – especially from WWE giants Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar.
“Since [becoming] part of this roster, I’ve learned from every match I’ve had, with every competitor I’ve been in there against,” said Cena. “To have my first match with Kurt, that was an honour. Kurt is unbelievable. He is what everyone makes him out to be. He’s one of the best in our business. He took me when I was really awful and made me look really good.”
“As far as working with Brock, that for me, was an honour in many ways,” says Cena.
“Here are two guys who’ve been in this business – Brock probably a year and myself under a year – and we managed to work what I thought was a very successful and entertaining program over a seven- or eight-week [span]. To have a main event with two guys that have been a year or less in the business, and to have it come off as a well-responded-to thing, that was huge for me. Brock is the cornerstone of our company.”
Feuds like the Angle-Cena, Lesnar-Cena storylines have contributed to the marked improvement in WWE television in recent months.
Cena offered this on the subject: “Two years ago we were the buzz. We were what was cool, we were what was going on. I think somewhere along that process, for whatever reason, we lost a little bit of steam. There was a lot going on. [World Championship Wrestling] collapsed, [there was] the whole invasion thing, the splitting of the program, there was a lot of roster shifting going on … It made it a little bit confusing for the everyday viewer. Now we’re through all that, and I think [the company is] trying to recreate that buzz and I think they’re doing a hell of job of it.”
What will Cena’s role in that process be?
“Everybody’s goals should be to be one of the top guys,” he said. “I just want to be able to keep contributing to the programs. That sounds cliche but I really do love what I do. I was loving what I did when nobody knew who I was and I was just doing dark matches and house shows. This to me is not even a job. Twenty years down the road, I still want to be doing this.”
Sounds good, but what about the music career? Any hip hop albums in the works?
“It’s definitely going to go down,” says Cena. “It’ll probably take a while to do because I’m not going to sacrifice any of my time on the road to try to do the album.
“I’m not doing professional wrestling to cross over to music. I’m doing professional wrestling because I love what I do. The music stuff is a bonus.”
E-mail: [email protected]
Road to WWE: Wrestled in southern California, Utah and San Francisco prior to WWE
Favourite artists: Eminem, Canibus
Favourite food: Cookie dough ice cream
Favourite car: 1964 Chevy Impala
Favourite actor: Mel Gibson
Favourite movies: Star Wars trilogy, Matrix, Matrix Reloaded
Favourite wrestler: Hulk Hogan