John Cena: The Thing That Got Me Beat Up As A Teenager Got Me Over In WWE
Cena has always loved hip-hop culture
John Cena has recalled how his love for hip-hop culture used to get him beaten up as a kid, but ultimately led to him connecting with the WWE audience.
Cena has reflected on his early days with WWE in the past, talking about how he was close to being fired before the creative team discovered his ability to free-style rap on an overseas tour.
Offering further details in an interview with Buzzfeed, Cena said: "The toughest thing for anyone in entertainment is to somehow find a way to captivate an audience. You have to create a personality for yourself and invest in that personality, and hope that people get it. And my character was The Prototype – half man, half machine, and 100% f**king rotten. It was so bad, but I was invested in it and it was enough to catch the eye of a scout to send me to Kentucky, so I got to be an understudy of one of their prominent performers, and then I made it to WWE and the first thing they said was drop The Prototype, cut your hair, and be a good guy.
“So, I debuted as John Cena – the most stale, un-entertaining character you could imagine, and was just about to be fired after a year and a half of me trying to connect with the audience, and on what was supposed to be one of my last tours… when we go overseas we all travel together, and in the back of the bus people were freestyle battling, and I remember, I just went back and joined in, and in the front of the bus, the WWE Creative department.
"A few people were like, ‘Hey, how did you remember all that?’ I’m like, ‘Well, the concept behind freestyle rap is, you just kinda think on your feet,’ And they’re like, ‘Well, would you want to do that on TV?’ Yes I would, and it really gave me a chance to invest in my costuming, mannerisms, delivery, personality. I’m not the most technically proficient guy, I’m not the biggest aerial performer, but I really love the make-believe aspect, really genuinely do, and the story-telling aspect.”
"And being the rap guy, I bought in, all in. I mean, like, I did rap battles in the parking lots of arenas, and they’d bring in rappers for me to have freestyle battles with, and I didn’t win them all, I did get burned, did get scorched, and there were some that I would win, and it was fun, and interactive.
"Imagine this, the one thing that I got my ass kicked for as a teenager, dressing different and embracing hip-hop culture, was the catalyst to me connecting with a global WWE audience."