Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending An Evening with John Cena. That’s right, the man himself sat down and discussed his life and career for about two hours in a small auditorium.
Now before I get to the actual show, I want to make special mention to the crowd. I was surprised to see such a wide range of people from different backgrounds. I was expecting more kids but then again, the man has been around for 15 years so there would have been a lot of older wrestling fans who have seen him from the beginning. For me, wrestling is something I don’t readily admit to watching, I call it a guilty pleasure, so to see people my age, and older, come out in public to see John Cena (a very polarising figure as well) was quite comforting.
He began with his trademark music. He had a suit on so he replaced the usual song and dance with a casual wave, which is fair enough. Then for the first half he proceeded to discuss his early life and from there wrestling and entertainment. The standout moment to me was when he talked about why his Thuganomics character worked, for the simple reason that he was being himself. He was a lone wolf in a pack of sheep (I think that may be a Game of Thrones quote), and wasn’t afraid to roll with this rapper character when everyone else was being told how to act.
He was asked a few tough questions – none more so than how he felt about Chris Benoit being wiped from wrestling history. There was a shocked murmur among the crowd, and I couldn’t believe it was even brought up. If you don’t know about it, you can google it, but it seemed like the question-asker just wanted to stir the pot. Cena’s answer was honest, while showing just how much a company man he is. He basically said he disagreed when indiscretions are swept under the rug, in any sport, and everyone is responsible for their actions. He was a gentleman with all his responses, even when he didn’t have to be.
He was asked how he felt about Brock Lesnar squashing him (beating him easily), and was ridiculously modest about it. To beat John Cena, you generally go through a monster match, but Lesnar beat him convincingly which propelled his in-ring presence to astronomical heights. It must feel pretty good to be able to be “that guy”, but all Cena said was how he learned from it and only made him try harder. Never give up – it seems like he really believes what he preaches.
For me personally, he’s certainly someone I can look up to. If you can be yourself 24/7 and be successful, well you’re doing it right. I’ve always found issue with being myself, feeling like the round peg in a square hole, but in the past year things have been going great and I’ve seen I can be myself and good things can happen. This isn’t the direct result of Cena (I don’t follow him religiously), but to just hear him talk about his experiences inspires me to keep aiming for better and never settle for less.
They say you shouldn’t meet your heroes but I can’t imagine anyone being unhappy they met this guy. Maybe one day I’ll get to but this Q&A was still pretty good.