I know I promised today a blog post on NXT and its winner, Wade Barrett, but I think I pulled off something a little better. Instead of me rambling off thoughts on NXT I had an opportunity to interview WWE Champion John Cena today for 10 short minutes.
Cena will serve as the Co-Grand Marshal along with "Gillette Fusion ProGlide Believers" later today at Pocono Raceway with NASCAR. Cena will take part in pre-race festivities and command the drivers to start their engines. Cena described the experience on par with “throwing out the first pitch at a baseball game or a coin toss in a football game.”
Now on to the wrestling. If there is one thing I can take away from this interview it’s the fact that Cena is a huge company guy. Every question about himself turned into the company and where it’s going. He reminded me of how Derek Jeter turns every interviewer’s question into an answer about winning as a team.
We spoke a little about where the WWE is right now and how Cena has taken up the mantle once held by the Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
“I pride myself on where the company is going. I’m very happy with where we are and we’re making a lot of right moves.”
The discussion quickly turned to his status as a role model for the younger fans of the WWE. “I started to notice in 2004, 2005 a lot of the people in the building were families and a large number of small children.”
Cena touched on how the WWE has moved away from what it was in the late 1990s and toward PG.
“The change to PG has been one of the best moves the WWE has made,” said Cena. He did however recognize that there is still contact when watching the WWE, but it doesn’t have that stigma anymore. He compared watching the WWE to like watching a baseball game. It’s something the whole family can take part in.
I had to touch on the fans who boo Cena and he was more than willing to talk about it. I honestly didn’t expect anything less from Cena, he has stated many times that he doesn’t mind the fans who boo him.
“They pay a lot of money to see us,” Cena said. “For me, I don’t want everybody [the fans] to have the same opinion.” Cena went on to say that he loves walking into an arena and being fooled by the fans reaction. He seems to thrive on the “opposition” as he put it.
“I take a lot of things to close to the chest in this business, but not this.”
On possibly being a heel again:
First of all, Cena did not like the terms heel or face as he called them “completely archaic.”
“I’ve always been myself. I never gave a damn about being a good guy or bad guy. I never turned heel or baby face.”
I thought this was pretty interesting as Cena was adamant that he has always played a role that was a direct extension of himself. He touched on how he did the hip hop early on and now he’s all about hustle, loyalty, and respect.
Coming to Long Island for Fatal Four Way:
I asked him if feels a little different wrestling on Long Island and in the shadow of Madison Square Garden in New York City.
“That area of the country [New York, Long Island, and New Jersey] is the WWE’s turf, it is home for us. It is the best crowd in terms of fans respecting the product and demanding nothing less. Being out there is something special.”
On Vince McMahon:
He said working for him is simply the best. He respects Vince for still being a part of the business even at this stage in his life.
“The guy gambled his financial life for this business. He could have retired years ago but he still gets up every day and does his thing.”
In closing, Cena was a hell of a nice guy. The best way I can put it, what you see on TV is what you get. That is who he is and he is obviously not shy about letting you know.
In case you want more information on The Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500:
The Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500 will air live on TNT at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 6, 2010. For ticket information visit http://www.poconoraceway.com or call toll free 1-800-RACEWAY (1-800-722-3929).
As part of the race entitlement, Pocono Raceway is offering a 15% discount on tickets throughout the race weekend when you enter the promotional code, "PROGLIDE". Visit www.poconoraceway.com to enter the code and receive your discount.