John Cena on Wrestling's GOAT, Heel Moments, and the Actor-Wrestler Dilemma

“I don’t think I’ll ever not be a member of the WWE family first."- Cena said.

by Sead Dedovic
John Cena on Wrestling's GOAT, Heel Moments, and the Actor-Wrestler Dilemma
© Michael Loccisano/Getty Images Entertainment

John Cena, in an interview with INSIGHT with Chris Van Vliet, discussed the current state of the wrestling scene and shared intriguing details about his career. In his illustrious career, Cena has experienced many things, and he chose to reveal certain aspects. 

Right from the start of the interview, Cena reflected on some of his colleagues who have built great careers, much like him. Often in the world of wrestling, debates about who is the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) are frequent. Opinions are divided, but it's challenging to choose just one. This amazing wrestler decided to highlight a few names that he considers to be the GOAT.

“I would say people who elevate the business to new heights from a performance standpoint. I mean, this is just my perspective, and again, we’re talking about objectivity. So it’s only my opinion. There’s no truth to what I’m saying. Hulk Hogan would have to be in there, Steve Austin, Dwayne Johnson, and Roman Reigns.”- he said, as quoted by

John Cena stated that he never felt like "the guy" in WWE. He expressed his opinion that the definition of being the main figure has become unclear over time. Cena pointed out the shift from the past, where the primary focus was on aspiring for championships, to the present, where terms like "locker room leader" and "the guy" are commonly used. 

According to him, associating the championship with a recognizable figure adds credibility to it. Cena stressed the importance of using industry terms and concepts, such as props, to effectively express messages within the wrestling world. This perspective reflects his take on the evolving aspects of the wrestling industry.

John Cena reflected on the differences between himself in 2002 and 2024. He identified common traits like gratitude, grit, perseverance, and humility, but noted huge distinctions. 

The younger version lacked self-worth and wisdom. Cena recalled a specific missed opportunity in 2002 when he faced Kurt Angle under the theme of "Ruthless Aggression." He admitted not fully embracing the gimmick and not understanding the essence of the wrestling business at that time. 

His career, just like that of every wrestler, has certain moments he might not fondly remember. However, Cena is a wrestler with many more positive memories from that period, which he recalls with joy. John Cena is a wrestler just like any other who perhaps didn't make the best use of certain moments, but it can all be attributed to the fact that he wasn't particularly experienced.

Cena contrasted his approach then with his current appreciation for the diverse personalities in NXT. He encouraged aspiring wrestlers to focus not just on moves but also on making the audience believe in their characters. 

John Cena on whether he is an actor or a wrestler and the heel role

At one point in his career, Cena decided to take a different path and become an actor. This surprised many, but they eventually realized that he is someone who can adapt to anything. Cena had a desire to try his luck in Hollywood, and it seems like he made a good decision. Reporters were curious if this outstanding wrestler sees himself as an actor or still a wrestler. Cena was honest, emphasizing that he has never stopped being a part of the wrestling scene.

“I don’t think I’ll ever not be a member of the WWE family first. So, to answer that question in my perspective, the switch has never happened. You know me. I always speak fondly of WWE in my time and experience there. I can’t tell you how much the audience has made me the man I am today. Having to deal with all the polarizing audiences, we’ve seen a lot of performers not be able to do that and to have to do that for so long, it teaches you about you and you really go through a journey of self-worth. So I don’t think I’ll ever not be WWE family first.”- he continued.

John Cena
John Cena© Michael Loccisano/Getty Images Entertainment

John Cena almost became a heel in a wrestling storyline; Cena Rock 1. He prepared for it by creating a new song, gear, and a different character. However, he changed his mind because being a 'bad guy' meant doing things that went against his positive image, like showing up less and being untrustworthy. Cena was willing to stop selling merchandise and doing charity work to fully commit to the heel role, but he realized it might not be the right choice for him.

He always knew what was best for him and often wanted to go a certain way that many didn't believe in. In most cases, he made the right choice and is happy with it.

John Cena