– Prior to last Monday’s Raw in Los Angeles, Steve Austin recorded a podcast with John Cena, and below are some of the highlights from their hour-long chat:
** Cena challenged the WWE locker room to be creative about ideas for their characters and unafraid of rejection.
“It’s not that what we have isn’t good. I think we have a locker room full of very, very talented Superstars. But, I also think we have a locker room full of Superstars who are fearful for their employment. And, they’re not willing to take that one step,” Cena said.
“I don’t get a mad at a lot nowadays. What really frustrates me is when I see a guy with all of the tools or next to all of the tools who is afraid to take that leap of faith.”
** Cena denied that he “hogs the spotlight” or impedes the breakout of new stars, saying that he wants to work alongside wrestlers to create multiple stars for the crowd to engage with.
“I’ve been able to look at this product objectively. I take myself out of the equation,” Cena said. “I think a lot of the reason the reactions (pro/against Cena) are the way they are is because for quite a few years, WWE didn’t step up to the plate and correctly build new Superstars and correctly provide new main event talent,” Cena said.
“I wish – and right now I’m very excited – we are on the cusp of getting a true All-Star line-up for the first time in a long time. I think you’ll see that (the chants) go away. And I’m objectively looking at it because when you have one dude and you’re trying to make Superstars off that dude, a majority of the audience only recognizes that one guy. It’s why when you have a feud with Daniel Bryan or The Rock, you don’t hear the ‘Let’s Go Cena / Cena Sucks’ as much. It’s cheer for one guy, boo the other guy. But, when it’s a one-man party out there, often times, the crowd gets attached to the one man.”
** Cena also discussed WWE’s management techniques and said their methods can hurt wrestler’s confidence and create a “walking on eggshells” feeling in the locker room.
“A lot of this business is false motivation. They’ll pat you on the butt and go, ‘Oh, good match.’ Right when you come through Gorilla. I wish there was more motivational reinforcement,” Cena said, referring to Austin’s speech to him several years ago to never settle and strive to make WWE’s business better.
“It’s just lack of confidence. The amazing thing is a lot of these guys are so confident once they’re in that box and the bell rings doing their thing. I’ve talked to a lot of guys – they have such great personalities.”
** Cena also confirmed WWE is moving toward a more wrestling-heavy product, rather than talk-based. He attributed this to the company making moves to expand internationally, and on that front noted he is learning Mandarin to help WWE expand in China.
** Regarding his personal health, Cena said:
“I’m doing the best I can. I feel great. I’ll be turning 37 in April,” Cena said. “In your plea for longevity, you can’t be young in the ring all the time. So, I still feel as if I can keep up with anyone who comes through the door. I have a certain amount of stuff I do on a television basis, but every once in a while, I try to do some stuff that’s unique.”
** Cena said the three-hour Raw shows were tough for the roster and called it ambitious:
“I really think the optimum time – my window is two-and-a-half hours. Where even if it’s two-and-a-half balls to the wall, people want more and they want to come back… It’s a stretch. I think the Creative department and the Superstars are doing the best they damn well can to carry those three hours. And, it’s going to be a transition.”
** Cena also talked up the emphasis of “crowd noise” and crowd involvement as a barometer of whether something has worked or not, citing his encouragement of the “Let’s Go Cena / Cena Sucks” chants and not shying away from “cat-calling” fans, such as at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view last month.
“As a professional, when all those chants have nothing to do with you, through all that, there were undeniable moments where people regained interest in what we were doing,” Cena said about his match with Randy Orton at the Royal Rumble
“sometimes it’s best to let them (the fans) be the star of the show.”
** Other notes included:
Cena saying the worst form of crowd response is seeing people going to the concession stand or getting a t-shirt during one of his segments as it means they are dis-interested.
Noting that his hit match with Antonio Cesaro was helped by the pair spending some time working together at the Performance Center when Cena was filming a Muscle & Fitness cover for WrestleMania season.
Saying that he likes to get to know wrestlers outside of the business if WWE is ready to elevate them to main event level.
Emphasizing the importance of the new Performance Center and developing new talent, Cena said, “With the fall of WCW, we have hit the point where we can no longer draw. We can no longer pick from certain promotions or even the competition. We have to develop our own.”
[ LISTEN TO Steve Austin’s full chat with John Cena HERE ]
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