During a recent appearance on the NotSam Wrestling podcast, John Cena recalled his WrestleMania feud with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in WWE, and the infamous promo segment where The Champ called out The Great One for writing his promo notes on his wrist.
You can check out some highlights from the interview below:
On calling out The Rock for his promo notes: “I’d like to think that I gave every chance to speak my best. The thing with our matchup, and the thing that some people might not have seen, was, it is supposed to be Michael Jordan, LeBron James, both in their prime. To do that, in this scenario, you do not have to elevate The Rock. He is, and always will be, in his own universe. I don’t have to give any more steam to that rocket. To make the billing the billing, you need to elevate John. I was punching from underneath, but still punching, and just looking for whatever. Once again, Dwayne was doing so many things, like he always does, he splits atoms and makes it work. All I was doing was WWE, that’s it, and laser-focused and realizing this is the opportunity of a lifetime and realizing that this isn’t Mike Tyson vs. Muhammad Ali, this Tyson vs. Peter McNeeley, and this isn’t going to draw money. So, eff it, here we go. Of course, there were ramifications and it led to some genuine emotions between the two of us.”
On working with The Rock for the feud: “When it all began to melt away was when we decided the path of the match the day before. Dwayne could see, not only how easy I was to work with, but how adamant I was. ‘These are great ideas, let’s do whatever. I want to make sure you’re comfortable. I can do this, but what do you think?’ Afterward, not in the performance, not being too smart or winking at the camera, being fully invested in the whole body of work, losing with humility and embarrassment, and staying there and being degraded and humiliated in front of a stadium to give Rock his moment. The moment the ice began to melt was right after, when the first thing I did was apologize to his mom and said, ‘Being in the business, I hope now you can understand that I just want to sell tickets. Sorry if I made you feel a certain way, it was not my intention. From my perspective, it was like a surprise party. If I told you the gig, maybe it would have ruined some stuff.’ She gave me a great hug, told me ‘thank you,’ and then next thing I did was say the exact same thing to Dwayne.”
On how gracious The Rock was to him: “He couldn’t have been more gracious. I know the build wasn’t easy on him. He has the world in the palm of his hand. To come back and be kicked in the nuts by some cheap shot king who is trying to make a name for himself, that sucks. He’s trying to give to the business. I get his perspective, ‘What the eff is this guy doing? I’m trying to do the business a favor here.’ Then I explained my perspective to him, and I couldn’t just be, ‘I’m authentic.’ I had to prove it out there. Prove my authenticity, and say, ‘I just wanted to pack the place and I wanted people to be interested. I did it the wrong way. We should have collaborated. We should have talked in hindsight. I should have asked you what’s the best way to make us equals. Instead, I did it myself and it created a huge space between us and that was my fault.’”