The strange way John Cena ended up in wrestling
It goes without saying that wrestling has a culture all on its own. The stars are similar to any of our other beloved celebs — they just wear more elaborate costumes and put on a different kind of show. Over the years, there have many been many legends of the trade, including The Undertaker, Hulk Hogan, Triple H, Chyna, and many more. Included on the long list of big names is John Cena.
Although his career path has drastically changed over the years, the Massachusetts native has not lost his core fanbase. Since the late ’90s, Cena has been a hero for many wrestling fans, young and old. In a September 2020 interview with Wrestling News, the former WWE champion reflected, “I have a very young audience in WWE. A lot of kids, a lot of families, and as my in-ring career is not as active, it’s not over, but it’s not as active. I wanted to continue to send messaging to those younger viewers because so many times parents have said ‘your ‘Never Give Up’ words have helped my son or daughter.'”
So, how did the “you can’t see me” star get to the wonderful world of WWE? Well, it was actually a wild ride.
John Cena was a jack of all trades, but not actually good at them
Before he became a professional wrestler, and decades before he became the motivational speaker known in 2020, John Cena took on a slew of career paths. The former WWE champ shared his original career choice with Men’s Journal. In an interview, Cena confessed that he wanted to be a football player. However, during his collegiate years at Springfield College, he quickly learned he wasn’t the right size.
Even with his impeccable physique on his 6’1″ frame, the star revealed, “I was way too small.” Yikes. At 21 years old, he then attempted to become a cop. In 2016, Cena told ABC News, “I took the California Highway Patrol exam and didn’t pass, so I tried to be a cop and failed.” From there, the performer tried his hand at limo driving (but wasn’t good at it at all), competitive pizza eating, and even aimed to enlist in the Armed Forces as a Marine.
Even after all of these, the unlikeliest of jobs landed him right in front of his destiny.
John Cena found wrestling while cleaning toilets
After the whirlwind of odd jobs, and still financially broke, John Cena landed a job as a janitor/receptionist at a gym in California. “I used to work at Gold’s Fitness. I would work the front desk,” the former campion explained to ABC News. “I was the mayor. I knew everybody… That was a time when like attitude was at zenith like 1999, 2000. So I mean everybody watched [wrestling], but so did I. And we would just talk about ‘Raw.’ And this kid was like, ‘You know I’m training to be a wrestler? Would you want to do that?'”
Cena continued, “I was already up to my eyeballs in debt, but I leveraged every credit card I had… paid a promoter out in southern California, and learned the trade. Had we never had that conversation, I would have probably been honorably discharged or medically discharged from the Marines.”
In a more pessimistic tone, the soon-to-be author added, “I knew I was never going to have a real job,” which ultimately became true.
John Cena didn't impress Vince McMahon at first
John Cena signed his development deal with the WWE, but even then, he wasn’t exactly the best. In fact, wrestling promoter and executive Vince McMahon — who Cena had to impress — was not impressed at all by the young upstart.
“Kurt Angle was supposed to wrestle a fellow named The Undertaker that night, and The Undertaker actually could not make the show,” the star explained in a 2016 interview with Centerstage with Michael Kay (per Wrestle Zone). “He was extremely ill and didn’t show up, and they needed a replacement, and somebody threw my name out there because it would just be like a single match and it would do more for Kurt Angle than anybody else and Vince said ‘Okay.'”
Cena continued, “So they brought me in to see Vince, and I had a long, horrible, badly-dyed mop haircut at the time. And my first meeting with Vince McMahon went something like this: I was shoved into a room and someone over my shoulder said, ‘What do you think?’ And he [McMahon] turns around and goes, ‘Cut his hair.’ That was my first meeting with my boss.”” And the rest, as they say, is history.
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