In an explosive interview with MTV News' Josh Horowitz for the 92NY Recanati-Kaplan Talks, the legendary John Cena didn't hold back when discussing his rollercoaster connection with none other than The Rock. While his quotes remain unfiltered, Cena's edgy side took center stage as he unveiled the behind-the-scenes drama.
“I’m so old. I haven’t won a match in like five years. No one notices, thank you, but if you check the stats, I’m on a bit of a slump. He’s not exactly an easy opponent. I need to get somebody really easy to get another win on the board before I go knocking on The Rock’s door again," Cena said.
But the truth didn't end there. Cena delved into the depths of his true sentiments towards The Rock. He revealed a period of selfishness when he misunderstood The Rock's leap into Hollywood, failing to recognize how Dwayne and Dave Bautista were revolutionizing the perception of WWE Superstars by conquering Tinseltown.
“I would like to think, in my perspective, that we always have been good, except for one little patch where I really messed up. I got selfish and me, living WWE at that point, did not have any concept of growth or someone else’s perspective. I took Dwayne’s comments as not genuine, and my view was, if you love something, then be there every day. What a hypocrite I am. Because I still love WWE, and I can’t go all the time. I just didn’t see that. I was so selfish. I had his number and we could have talked about it. Instead of going, ‘Hey, man, I’d like to try to do this thing to hook you back in and maybe we can collaborate, and really make it big,’ I was like, ‘F this,’ and was calling this dude out. This is a moment, he gave me an opening, and I’m gonna kick the door open. I was diligent, and I understand why he got upset because he’s changing the perception of the industry. Him, Dave Bautista, they made it okay to be in WWE. WWE isn’t that carnival performer stereotype. Pro wrestlers have had that carny stereotype for so long, and these guys are breaking down barriers and shattering ceilings, and on top of that, just transcending the art form, and I just got selfish and wanted a main-event marquee match because it would better what I thought was the business. That’s so short-sighted and selfish," Cena said.
The former WWE Champion acknowledged the existence of intense tension between him and The Rock, rightfully understanding the latter's anger, given his return to WWE with a genuine desire to give back. However, Cena assured fans that their friendship has now found stable ground.
"It worked, but it worked at the cost of two people who communicated and almost put it in jeopardy. There was a moment where there was a lot of bad vibes between us, and rightfully so because Dwayne came back, and he wanted to give to the business openly, as much as he could. He has a great perception of WWE and understands that you build equity and go do something else and you pass the torch, you give away all of your electricity, as he would say. He was trying to do that on his own terms, and I wasn’t having any of it. We made some great TV, so much so that one dude [points to Horowitz] wants to see it again. But it was almost at the cost of our friendship, which I would like to say now is in a really good place," Cena said.
When probed about the process of rebuilding their camaraderie, Cena reflected on his own flaws and the need to acknowledge his mistakes. He admitted that he felt the pressure to match The Rock's level on the road to their WrestleMania 28 showdown, but his approach ended up being all wrong.
“I think step one of any conflict is to somehow find your fault. It’s my fault, and I knew exactly what I was doing, and I also knew that I had to punch up to his level. He came in in a league of his own, and to make sure that it’s like Mike Tyson [versus] Muhammad Ali, I gotta be Mike Tyson, and Rock was like Ali, and I was like some scrub like Glass Joe from Punchout. I had to punch my way up, and I had to do it by really blurring the lines of collaborative work. If we’re in the WWE and we have a match, I assume they were gonna perform, just like stunts in a movie, and our concern is to safely do the show. That’s the magic, and the magic is to be able to do it again and again, and trust your performer. Nothing’s different when you verbally have issues with each other. It’s all in good fun, and it’s all for the business, but you’re supposed to have trust with each other," he said.
Cena then explained that he apologized to The Rock and his mom, as he told them that he was just trying to do good business. He stated that, ahead of WrestleMania 29, he reflected and realized that his perspective was wrong in the first place; in hindsight, they could have worked together to make the match special.
"I violated his trust, and as soon as [WrestleMania 28] was over, I think then, I’m thinking for Dwayne, but I could only think then in his perspective began to be like, woah, first of all, I lost. I finished second, and second of all, I tried to lose with as much humility as possible. There’s an iconic shot of me on one knee, just with the WrestleMania garb around me, with the worst look in my face like I just lost the biggest moment of my life, which I did. Then right after that, the first thing I did was, I went to Dwayne’s mom, and I gave her a big hug. I said, ‘I knew you were brought up in this business. I hope you can understand my perspective.’ I Because I said some bad things to make you feel bad about me, and I said some bad things about your son. I hope what you just saw in our performance, you understand that my goal was simply to sell tickets and do business. She forgave me right there. Then, it was right at Rock’s dressing room, I went to Rock. I said the exact sane thing. It’s only we started to build up for [WrestleMania 29] that I got to look at myself in the mirror deeper and I was like, I was wrong. Not only did I hope he understood my perspective, but a year later, I knew that my perspective was wrong. Yes, it worked and yes we sold tickets, and yes, people loved it and they chose sides. It was a real polarizing event, but we could have done that with everybody working together and playing nice. That was my fault," he said.
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