John Cena is a WWE superstar who has hosted award shows such as ESPN’s “The ESPY’s” and the “Teen Choice Awards” on Fox, and has also granted over 500 wishes for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He spoke at SXSW on the morning of March 13th with Katie Nolan from Fox Sports’ “Garbage Time.”
Cena and Nolan both grew up in the Northeast, with Cena claiming Westbury, Massachusetts as his hometown. When Nolan asked Cena how he got interested in wrestling, he discussed how he rode the “wave of Hulk mania” in the 1980’s referring to Hulk Hogan, and then became more interested when he was in college when wrestling became more popular in the late 1990’s.
When Cena told his father his dream was to move to Venice Beach, California and become a wrestler, his father told him there was no way he would succeed. Cena managed to land a gig at the Gold’s Gym in Venice, and hustled his way to ensure he would prove his father wrong. Cena even claimed to have lived in a 1991 Lincoln Continental for a time to try and make ends meet.
Cena said early on in his career, developing his persona and personality within the wrestling world was a struggle. He claimed that when he was given his first opportunity, he missed in creating a relatable identity that the audience could connect with. When Cena was fortunate enough to receive a second opportunity in the WWE, he said timing played a huge part in his ultimate success. Not having to wear tights, coming into the business when other wrestlers were beginning to use their own names, and Cena decided to create his character based on hip hop culture. Cena’s advice to people wanting to follow in his footsteps was one of humility.
“Be humble enough to know when you miss,” Cena preached.
Nolan was a great interviewer for the session, praising Cena for his charitable work. Cena came across as very humble and gracious, continually being grateful for “the opportunity to be creative.” When Nolan pressed Cena to figure out how he manages to do all the things he does on his overwhelmingly busy, Cena said that one of his favorite quotes is from Dr. James Andrews: “Say yes to everything and figure it out.” When asked how he decides on what projects to be apart of, he said he makes his decisions based on opportunities that “have to be authentic.” When asked if he had any regrets in regards to opportunities he chose to participate with, he admitted to regretting doing action movies (specifically “The Marine”).
Cena constantly praised WWE, and pointed out that being able to do 250 live shows helped make it possible to do so many wishes for the Make A Wish Foundation.
Nolan ended asking Cena questions from the audience, finishing with what three things he hoped to be remembered for (in order):
“1. Loving what I do
2. Loving who I’m with
3. Being easy to work with”
Those are pretty simple but admirable goals for someone as accomplished as Cena already is.