John Cena: WWE's Renaissance Man

The Champ has become WWE’s (and now Hollywood’s) most reliable, versatile, and bankable performer since Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

John Cena

Per Bernal

Although he taunts opponents with his signature catchphrase, “You can’t see me,” the truth about John Cena is that you can catch a glimpse of the WWE Superstar just about anywhere these days. Cena has been a staple on WWE Network and one of its top draws for the past 15 years—and for good reason. With his quick wit, golden tongue on the mic, and jaw-dropping displays of strength—hoisting a 450-pound man onto his back and slamming him into the mat is just another day at the office—Cena has morphed into a living legend in the ring as well as the guy fans love—and love to hate.

SEE ALSO: John Cena's Upper-Body Workout Routine

At 39, Cena has expressed no signs of hanging up his boots and shorts. He has, however, been showcasing his talents outside WWE. Last year he hosted the ESPYs, Saturday Night Live, and the Fox competition series American Grit, which has been given the green light for another season. These projects were built upon memorable cameos in the 2015 comedies Trainwreck, starring Amy Schumer, and Sisters, with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. And you’ll see even more of Cena on the silver screen, as he’s about to board the publicity train to promote The Wall, a psychological thriller from Amazon Studios in which he plays a U.S. soldier caught in a standoff with a sniper in Iraq (release date to be determined). And WrestleMania 33 invades Orlando, FL, on April 2.

SEE ALSO: John Cena's Full-Body Workout Routine

M&F caught up with Cena while he hit the weights in his hometown of Tampa to talk training, hydration, and snipers.

M&F: Before becoming a WWE Superstar you worked at Gold’s Gym in Venice, CA. What did you do?

JOHN CENA: Everything. I was most well-known for being the guy getting folks water, pre-workout drinks, supplements, Gold’s Gym shirts. I was kind of the mayor of Gold’s Gym. [Gold’s] Venice was like a Grand Central Station for bodybuilding at the time. Then Gold’s went public and the business model changed, and so did the dynamic of Gold’s Venice. It’s still a really, really unique place to go, and every time we’re out West, I always stroll back in there.

John Cena Stretching

​Per Bernal

You were a competitive bodybuilder back then. Did you ever want to make that a career?

Just like playing Division III football you kind of know you’re never going to be in the NFL. Being a 6' natural bodybuilder at a competition [weight] of 218 to 220 pounds, I knew that I wasn’t going to be a professional [bodybuilder]. It was just something to keep me in shape. I’ve always really needed a purpose to stay in shape, whether it was playing football or trying to work toward a competition or, then, when WWE came along.

You’ve been the “Face That Runs the Place” at WWE for 15 years. Is there any Superstar you’ve never had the chance to work with that you wish you had or could?

Past Superstar—Andre [the Giant], because Andre was the measuring stick for so long. Not only in the ring but also backstage. There’s something about earning the respect of your peers that I think is just an intrinsic, valuable thing for me in this industry. If I’m on the callout list, I’ll call out [Stone Cold] Steve Austin. Every time he shows up I try to say, “Hey, man, I know you got one more left.”

Who is the future face of WWE?

That is a good and interesting question. I believe the industry has changed [again]. I saw it change in the early ’90s when WWE switched to the Attitude Era. I saw it change in the early 2000s when WWE switched to the Ruthless Aggression Era. I can see it has again changed now. I think you’ll see the brand shift from a one-person thing to a bunch of people, especially because we have so many brands now, with 205 Live, NXT, and SmackDown.

Will this new shift be what WWE fans are looking for?

You’ll never be able to give them one individual who they like, because quite frankly, once someone gets notoriety, that demographic doesn’t like it. Anyone who tries to become popular will not be popular. It’s a weird contradiction in terms because the audience won’t allow it.

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