The WWE Superstar dishes on his new 3-disc DVD and life as a wrestler
John Cena is not your average WWE Superstar. He's one of the few professional wrestlers that performs under his real name and he's amassed the sort of popularity that has enabled him to branch out into other areas of entertainment, much like The Rock. He recently starred in the movie The Marine, he has a best-selling rap CD and he has appeared in a number of television commercials and shows.
WWE: John Cena-My Life will be released on DVD on November 13, and I was fortunate enough to be in on a conference call with the Dr. of Thuganomics. The brutally-honest star had many things to say, about many different things.
You oversaw the production of this DVD?
John Cena: Yeah, just basic concepts. I know that WWE traditionally does biographical DVD's on their superstars, and I really think that my best stories are yet to be told or experienced. I didn't really want to do a career retrospective, but we put some interesting stuff in there and it's a different look at the usual WWE format.
Do you think you have the crossover appeal that The Rock does? Are you going to attempt to do more movies?
John Cena: As a matter of fact, there are definitely more movies in the works. Honestly, the crossover appeal depends on the ticket buyers, if we keep making stuff that they want to see. A lot of that stuff rests on my shoulders and a lot of it rests on WWE Films. It's something that I'm definitely looking forward to continuing, but I don't know if I'm gonna follow in The Rock's footsteps, with leaving WWE behind. I guess I'm loyal to a fault. I don't see myself leaving the ring anytime soon.
Do you have more say in how your character is developed, now that you're an established star?
John Cena: It's something that you really do no matter how established you are. You do have a lot of say in your character. I think a problem with our industry, as with any industry that showcases talent, a lot of times, people are afraid to take risks. They've worked so hard to make it to a certain level, and I guess they get in the comfort zone. I'm never satisfied with just staying in one place. Even as the WWE becomes more successful, I'm still never satisfied. I'm constantly trying to redefine myself, whether it be my actions, the way I speak or the character.
What were your thoughts of the CNN documentary, and what do you think is needed for change in the industry?
John Cena: The CNN documentary was exactly what it was. You know, anyone who titles a documentary "Death Grip" is a... it was gonna be what it's gonna be. It was a very slanted and one-sided documentary. I'm actually gonna try to get WWE.com to post my entire interview. I only got to see fragments of it. I knew it was going to be a negative spin documentary from go. I guess CNN still has some bad blood towards WWE. WWE as a whole is taking positive steps to clean up its own environment. The current drug policy we test, at random, at least four times a year. Our policy is more stringent than the NFL. On the documentary, one little tidbit I did see was the representative from the IOC (International Olympic Committee), saying our policy has many holes, many gaps. It was funny because what he was referring to was the penalty system, rather than the testing system. Our penalty system does have some gaps. Our policy is very new. The first time you're caught it's a 30-day suspension, the second time it's a 60-day suspension and the third time you're looking for new work. The IOC, if you're caught, with anything, you're suspended for two years and possibly stripped of your medal. It's funny for a person to talk about a flawed system when recently you had Marion Jones, who finally admitted that after all these years, even with the IOC standards, she was able to get by, winning gold medals using drugs. A lot of the material on the documentary, you really have to consider the source. I think that the WWE is really doing all that it can, and in some cases more than expected, to really put the good foot forward. It really, for lack of a better term, sucks, because people have these pre-conceived notions of what our business is and who we are, and those people are usually the most ignorant to what we do.
What do you think that fans will be most surprised with on this DVD, and are there any of the Five Questions segments that haven't been aired before on this DVD?
John Cena: Yeah, the Five Questions stuff is what I think they'll be most surprised with. Although it was extremely popular on the Internet - we've received anywhere from 250,000 and 400,000 questions per week - it was the only WWE internet show that was live, no reruns for about a year and a half straight. It takes a few hours to watch, it's a long watch. It starts out with me answering questions and then towards the end it really turns into a journal of life. It's a very funny, unadulterated, in-your-face journal. It has me being frustrated, me being happy, me being sad. It really turned into something I was very proud of because I can watch it and look back on it and you can see there were the tough times and you can be there when I was having a great day. It gave fans a real good look on my life, week by week. I think that's the one thing they'll be most intrigued by, but it takes a little to watch it because it's over two hours long.
What do you want to get across to your fans with this WWE: John Cena-My Life DVD release?
John Cena: I think the WWE does a good job of creating characters, creating identities. This DVD gives a lot of testimony about really who I am as a person. It's not just me sitting in a chair. The great thing about the format of the DVD, the difference in production, is I don't say anything. You have testimony from my father, you have testimony from six of my college friends, high school friends. You have testimony from my peers, people I started in the business with. It's almost like an autobiographical journey, except I'm not involved. It's stories being told about the development of my life, through the people I grew up around, and their opinions of me as a person.
What do you want people, who don't know about the profession, to know about wrestling?
John Cena: That it supplies the best entertainment, I believe, in the world. While the Hollywood writers are on strike, we'll be taping live. Saturday Night Live, they tape at 8 and air at 11. David Letterman tapes at 6 and they air it late. We do it live. We have a seven-second delay, similar to a live sporting event. The goal of a sporting event is to win. The goal of what we do is to captivate the people every week. We have a track record of unbelievable ratings with the USA network, with Sci-Fi and with CW. We have unbelievable fans. We are a serious company and we demand respect, but we're kind of caught in between. We don't get any respect from the sports world, we don't get any respect from the entertainment industry. I just wish that they would all just sort of shut up and recognize that what we do holds a place in sports and entertainment.
Do you watch the competition, and when I say competition, of course, TNA?
John Cena: They still have a company? Wow, I didn't know they were still around.
WWE: John Cena-My Life comes to DVD on November 13 and, when he recovers from a torn pectoral muscle, you can find Cena on WWE Monday Night RAW on the USA Network.