Jan Murphy has sat down with many WWE Superstars over the years, but arguably none bigger than WWE Superstar John Cena. Here is their conversation, in an interview originally conducted in 2004 and published in The Kingston Whig Standard!
Originally Published: June 5, 2004
Original Author: Jan Murphy – Kingston Whig Standard
Inside the squared circle, he’s the brawny equivalent of Eminem.
Outside, he’s like your next-door neighbour.
John Cena, the WWE’s reigning United States champion, is as down-to-earth as any of us.
In a backstage interview during last weekend’s SmackDown! show at the Memorial Centre, Cena talked candidly about his family, his life on the road and the black band he wears around his arm.
The armband is a symbol of love for his grandmother, who died recently.
“My grandmother was very near and dear to me,” he said. “She actually lived in a house attached to ours. She used to cook Sunday dinner for us every time I was home. She pretty much brought us up as kids, and that [black armband] is just for her.”
As it happens, his career has skyrocketed since he started wearing the tribute.
“It’s cool, because that’s when the babyface switch came on. It’s like she’s been looking out for me.”
Cena also talked about his family.
“I couldn’t be more be more thankful. I grew up [in West Newbury, Mass.] with four brothers, three of whom are still at home in the house I grew up in. I still live in the same house I grew up in with my dad.”
Cena said his father recently went through a divorce after 25 years, in addition to losing his mother. It was during this time that the family’s closeness was especially important.
“We’re all at the age where we should be out of the house, but we stick around. It’s a tight-knit clique, and when I go home I have family, but not any family that I’m responsible for. Everybody’s independent, but if I need them, they’re there, [and] if they need me, I’m there.”
Cena, who is 26 and single, was asked why wrestlers seem to end up in relationships with other wrestlers.
“It’s very tough to meet people, because, one, you’re never around. You’re just never home. And, two, [life in professional wrestling] is tough to explain to someone who’s been home and raised on ‘go to work 9 to 5, have your weekends off, have your nights off with the person you care about.’
“It’s tough to explain to them, ‘All right, I’m gonna be gone 35 days in a row and then, when I touch down, I’m gonna have just enough time to do laundry, get myself fed, clean up and get back out the door.’ It’s horribly selfish.
“But at the same time, if you’re in this crew [and] you’re travelling with us, you’re in the belly of the beast. You know about it, so, automatically, long-term relationships are based on compatibility. Right off the bat you’ve got a hell of a lot of compatibility with somebody who’s in this game.”
No Holds Barred asked Cena about the dark side of being a WWE superstar – the travelling.
“A lot of people don’t understand the sacrifice,” he said.
“I wouldn’t call it a dark side, because everybody who’s here wants to be here. Everybody who’s here and who stays more than a month knows how rigorous [the schedule] is.
“We’ve had some really talented guys, like Nate Jones, even Brock Lesnar – it was too much for them. It didn’t fit their lifestyles.
“Seriously, the schedule we have is almost not human. But at the same time, you want to keep going. [For instance] I’m sick today. I had to travel – we’ve been flying all day, we drove 200 miles from Toronto, we’re going 200 miles back tonight just to catch a morning flight to New Brunswick.
“We complain, because that’s human nature, but everybody wants to be here. I just wish the general public, especially the critics, understood what we [go] through … They don’t realize how fair and focused we are.
“We don’t have to put on four and five shows a week. We do it because we know there are people who want to see us. There’s towns like [Kingston] that we haven’t been in for like 12 years that deserve a shot.
“We came here, we sold out, and everybody’s going to go home happy. When you’re tired and you’re broken down, those cheers at the end of the night … that’s the medicine. That’s what keeps you going to the next town.”
In fact, wrestlers’ devotion to the fans is evident everywhere. Guys like World champion Chris Benoit, Edge, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Kurt Angle have returned from career-threatening neck injuries just to get back in front of the fans.
Cena knows what that feels like.
“I remember my first trip to Canada. I threw up under the ring because I wrestled with food poisoning.”
The U.S. champion takes the setbacks in stride.
“I tell you what, the worst thing is the travelling. The rest is gravy. For real. It’s not work.
“Everybody’s got their good days and their bad days … but it’s gravy. I love each and every person in this locker-room. You grow on each other, man. When people are down, you can see that and you pick them up. That’s how it goes.”