Q&A: Actor John Cena Makes Time For Wrestling, Hollywood

With a wave of his hand in front of his face, John Cena built WWE career trash by addressing his opponents by telling everyone, “You can’t see me.”

Can’t see Cena?

The 45-year-old ubiquitous Hollywood heavyweight can be seen pretty much everywhere these days, from studio lots to the square circle. Cena has just landed a role in Peter Farrelly’s new comedy Ricky Stanicky, played the flawed DC Comics superhero in the Peacemaker series, and will voice the brutal rhino Rocksteady in the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.

Cena wears his signature jorts and hasn’t forgotten his wrestling roots. He returns to fight WWE United States Champion Austin Theory at next month’s WrestleMania at SoFi Stadium and can be seen – and played – as the cover boy for various editions of the WWE 2K23 game, with the WWE 2K23 Deluxe Edition and the Icon Edition on Tuesday, Standard Edition and Cross-Gen on Friday.

What would a wrestling game be without a shocking twist? Cena takes players through some of the biggest losses of his career to wrestlers like Rob Van Dam and Kurt Angle in 2K Showcase mode, You Can’t Beat Me, rather than highlighting all of his championship wins.

“Perseverance is a core value of mine,” he said. “Never give up is written on all my stuff. I like the fact that it takes you through my toughest opponents, my toughest losses. It’s a very personal touch from me and I’m glad 2K was very receptive to that.”

Not a huge gamer, Cena calls the cover “a tip of the cap” from 2K for making a game around his 20 years of work.

“There were some very important moments where I didn’t live up to the hype,” Cena said.

In a recent phone interview with The Associated Press from Georgia, where he filmed Grand Death Lotto, the Hollywood heavyweight opened up about his wrestling retirement, starring in the video game WWE 2K23 and his relationship with embattled WWE boss Vince McMahon. Responses have been condensed for clarity and brevity.

AP: What did you mean in your tweet after returning to WWE last week when you wrote, “It might be the last time.” Are you nearing the end of your WWE career?

CENA: I tried to put it into words on Twitter. I guess I didn’t explain myself properly. It was the first time I came into the arena and knew that this has a final end. Usually you come out and you’re all excited, OK, that’s the next one and I’m waiting for the next one. Of course I’m not done yet. I made this statement upon accepting a match at WrestleMania so I know I have at least one more to come. But what I was trying to convey was that for the first time I was seeing all that excitement and energy and realizing that this is the twilight of this journey.

AP: Why are you bringing up the feud with Austin Theory?

CENA: My answer would surprise you. Because I was told that would happen. I will not do that. I’m not saying I want to do this. I want to work with this person. I never do. I have never done that. I just try to do what I’m told and do it the best I can. Rather than dictating my terms, I often just try to make the performance as good as possible. What I don’t and never have done is curate the direction of the narrative. I don’t choose opponents, but I love telling stories. I didn’t choose Austin Theory, but I certainly spoke from the heart (on RAW).

AP: How do you feel about the fact that WWE could be on the market?

CENA: That’s well above my pay grade. I just don’t know what it’s all about. I love Vince McMahon. He is everything you could wish for in a great friend, business partner, father, mentor. i love the man But his business is his own, and what he shares with me is between us. But I don’t know what’s going on with the corporate structure in WWE or the creative direction of WWE. But when I’m there as a performer, it’s (WWE Champion) Roman Reigns’ show. In my opinion he needs to be talked about and in my opinion he is the greatest of all time.

AP: Is it difficult to reconcile your feelings about Vince McMahon with the allegations of sexual misconduct?

CENA: No. I mean everyone is entitled to their perspective. I have the right to have mine. When you love someone, you accept them as imperfectly perfect as they are. We all make mistakes, we all make bad decisions. God knows I’ve made my collection of bad decisions. That doesn’t mean I won’t love someone. There’s no way I can say I don’t love Vince McMahon.

AP: You have WrestleMania coming up and a lot of acting projects including Grand Death Lotto. Has the pace of your schedule ever gotten too much?

CENA: I kind of feel my age. I could use a little rest, but I have a choice. These are wonderful things to be a part of. I’m really excited for this one because this movie doesn’t stop. It will be an action from the opening credits. We have a great team that mixes action and comedy. I also try to do my best, I hate the term work-life balance but I try my best not to fall into the trap of workaholism where I just hide in my work and none am totally more open, more vulnerable Human for the people around me, the people I love. I have not yet sacrificed my relationships for my work. I’m at a pretty good pace right now where I can hit all cylinders.


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