– Sports Illustrated has a new Q&A up with Hulk Hogan and John Cena to promote WrestleMania XXX. Below are some highlights:
When you look back at the early days of WrestleMania, are there any wrestlers who would fit in better today? Are there any differences in what it took to be in the main event back then compared to today?
John Cena: It’s tough to say. We always come up with these whimsical scenarios of “what if.” What if Hulk Hogan was in his prime right now or would John Cena survive the Attitude era or vice versa, how would a flipping the bird “Stone Cold” Steve Austin find success on a program that’s PG? I think ability is just rewarded, period. The people who have made it before would have been successful again because you can’t knock that drive, you can’t knock that hustle, and you certainly can’t knock that passion. This is certainly not an easy job, but if you love it, it’s very rewarding. So if you’re in it just for the money, it becomes old hat very quickly and you walk away. But for those who have had a wonderful career over a certain amount of time and have made an impression on the fans of the WWE, I think they would be successful no matter what.
Hulk Hogan: I think you have to have it in your blood. If you want to be a top guy, back then, if you’re not up at 5bam and working out with Hulk Hogan, then you’re not taking my spot. The shortest day I ever put in was a 14 hour day, so if you weren’t out there putting in 14 to 18 hour days, then you’re not going to take my spot. I think Cena has this down to a science. He works harder, trains harder and does everything with more intensity than anybody out there today. You have to be totally dedicated to make it to the top. This has to be the priority over friends, family and everything. The only thing that can be in your focus is being the top guy.
What do you think has been the biggest change to the wrestling business from WrestleMania I to WrestleMania XXX?
John Cena: To me, the one word answer is expansion. The first WrestleMania was held at Madison Square Garden, and if you wanted to watch it outside of the Garden, you had to watch it on closed-circuit television, which means you had to find it in a movie theater or a screen showing this event, and you had to watch it in that theater. Fast forward to WrestleMania III and you had pay-per-view, so if you weren’t in the Pontiac Silverdome, you paid your cable provider a fee and you were allowed to watch the event. But now, for WrestleMania XXX, the 30th anniversary of all this, WrestleMania can be watched on even more devices thanks to the forward thinking of the WWE Network. You can watch it on iPad, iPhone, any Android device, Xbox, PlayStation, you can stream it through any digital device anywhere you want and still experience WrestleMania. So expansion is giving us more eyeballs, and more eyeballs makes the event even more spectacular. All we need to do on our end is deliver with the most unbelievable pageantry and the most unbelievable show on the planet, and to us, that’s what we do on the regular.
Hulk Hogan: The biggest change to me is how the storylines just move so much quicker. It’s not like I could confront Andre The Giant this week then wait to fight him a year later. Now you start a feud and end it in 12 weeks just so you can have it air at the top of the hour and spike the ratings. Everything just moves at such a faster pace.
WrestleMania XXX is putting some of the younger stars like Bray Wyatt and Daniel Bryan in high profile matches. Do you see any of these guys as main event players in the next five to ten years?
Hulk Hogan: Well, John Cena is definitely not done, brother, and to me, he’s at the perfect time to pull a “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan on everybody. If he was to switch and take that hustle, loyalty and respect and tell everybody how he was running game on everybody the whole time, he’d have another ten years wide open without even looking back. So maybe in five years, it’s John Cena running the game on everybody. When I look around the roster, Daniel Bryan is on one hell of a roll right now, but he gets beat to death every night he goes out there. The big guys just go out and stomp on him. Can he handle that for five more years? I don’t know. It’s anybody’s game at this point.
John Cena: I think this is a very interesting time, and this is why I love WrestleMania XXX. If you look back at WrestleMania XX, all of the showcase matches had these up and coming talents like Randy Orton, Batista, Brock Lesnar and John Cena. These names became etched all these years later as the people who would be carrying WWE. This year, you have a flux of brand new superstars or superstars who are just waiting to make their impression once they get their opportunity. Bray Wyatt, The Shield, anyone involved in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal, and then, of course, you have Daniel Bryan. So if you ask me right now who is going to carry the WWE into the next decade, I don’t know, but I truly think that you will get your odds on favorite at WrestleMania XXX on April 6, and that’s one of the things that just makes this event so interesting. It will give you a little bit of insight into what’s to come for WWE.