John Cena thinks a WWE heel turn has '10 years of story'

John Cena makes a bold proclamation regarding a possible heel turn.

John Cena in a file photo. (Image: Twitter/@WWE)
By Blesson Daniel | Feb 18, 2022 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

John Cena explained in an interview with GQ how he was rebranded as a rapper in 2002 when he was just getting his start on the WWE main roster.

While John Cena went into further depth about how his persona developed from that, he also discussed when WWE management first observed him rapping, who recommended he attempt the gimmick, and how he was on the verge of getting fired prior to adopting it.

“A bunch of my peers were freestyling on the back of an overseas tour bus, and I usually never join that peer group but I decided to join in,” Cena said. “Everybody was impressed, including some decision-makers in the front of the bus. One being the daughter of Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon. She asked if I wanted to play that persona on TV.

“I was about to be fired, so as a last chance I said, ‘sure.’ I didn’t just rhyme, I tried to embrace as much hip hop culture as I possibly could, and that kind of started this whole thing. The WWE version of John Cena has changed tremendously over the years. And for the last decade I would say he has been a character with a cornerstone value system of virtue.

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“And a lot of times, audiences now want to get behind a character who is flawed, like Peacemaker, who isn’t completely steadfast in his value system, and doesn’t completely operate for hustle, loyalty, and respect and the foundation of pure virtue.

“People want more depth than a character arc. In the WWE we are just playing a role, but I kind of do this for all of roles, whether it be Peacemaker or John Cena or whatever. I have to try to look within myself and take moments from my actual life and see how I felt and try to put that into a character. I’m not exactly someone who kicks in your front door and rips through your house in jean shorts and a T-shirt, ready to throw my hat at your parents and ask you to a last man standing match, but I know what it means to be excited.

“And if I need to conjure up an emotion of, let’s say, sadness, I look back on my life and remember when I was sad and hopefully find some sort of emotion I can grasp onto and then put it into ‘why would my reflection of this person think they’re upset?’”

John Cena’s Transition

John Cena eventually abandoned the rapper persona in favor of a more heroic one, which he has continued to play on WWE television to mixed reviews. For two decades, Cena discussed assuming the position.

“It takes a certain type of individual to go out there and play your hit song every night for two decades,” Cena said. “There are decisions I can make, but I don’t make. ‘Okay, now John Cena’s gonna be a bad guy.’ I don’t make that choice, then I can be like ‘okay, I’m never gonna be a bad guy. How can I nuance a virtuous character?’ Would it have been great to be able to mess with the flaws of WWE John Cena? Oh my goodness, I think there is another 10 years of story in there, but it’s not my choice. I don’t run the company.”