John Cena has opened up about last year’s ‘Summer of Cena’ WWE run, admitting that he could be considered a nostalgia act nowadays.
When Cena returned to WWE at Money in the Bank 2021, the 16-time World Champion received a monster pop. Speaking on The Pat McAfee Show, Cena noted that he expected his usual ‘polarizing’ reaction during his most recent run with the company.
Thankful that WWE fans always pushed him to be the best version of himself, Cena said:
“I’m probably at the point where I could be deemed a nostalgia act, and you got to see it firsthand. Not to say that I didn’t treat it very seriously and I love every single time I step on the canvas, but man, had you showed up a little before that, it wasn’t the same reaction as it was for Summer Cena. Summer Cena, for me, I was caught by surprise every single arena I went to.
“It’s usually a lot more, as Michael Cole would say, ‘polarizing’ than that. That was my first experience where the majority of the audience appreciate my presence there because normally, it’s weird, you go out and try and play a character of virtue and people tell you to ‘fuck off’ and they’d really tell me that. That’s an interesting combination and that’s what makes WWE beautiful and the live audience so special. They decide how they feel about characters.
“You can be a virtuous character and built on hard work, loyalty, and respect and embody perseverance and the audience can choose, as a collective, ‘this isn’t what we’re into right now, we prefer someone in gray or more flawed.’ I’m glad you got to see the reaction, but it wasn’t always like that. I’m grateful that it wasn’t because it challenged me every night, if I’m going to play this virtuous character, I better do a damn good job because not only did they want to tell me to ‘eff off,’ they were waiting for me to slip up.
“The audience always kept me at my best and I’m thankful for that. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to get eaten alive. I’m as passionate as the people on the other side of the barrier. WWE is that weird zone where it isn’t pure sport, it’s not ‘he who runs fastest wins,’ It’s a participation even with every person involved. If you’re in section 313, you’re still in the act and you know when the red light is on, all of us are on TV collectively and all of our voices are heard. I don’t cater to (the television audience) a lot.
“My ethos has been, ‘if everyone in the arena is having a good time, the audience at home is having a good time.’ I always want the arena to be rocking. Everyone shows up with high energy.”
Transcription via Fightful.
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