PWTorch editor Wade Keller presents a special Thursday Flagship edition of the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast featuring a WrestleMania 36 Preview with ex-WWE Creative Team member and professional stand-up comedian Matt McCarthy.
(Search “wade keller” to subscribe in podcast app or CLICK HERE to subscribe in Apple Podcasts.)
WWE top star John Cena continues to branch out beyond WWE by appearing at speaking engagements, such as a “Fast Company” conference Wednesday in Los Angeles.
Cena stressed “authenticity” as the driving force of his mission to grow WWE’s business. He also talked about wanting to turn heel, but not pushing for it because that’s not what his character is about. Cena also sent a message to the locker room to listen to the fans, not themselves.
“Authenticity” is also a driving force for many WWE fans resenting Cena’s character through the years, feeling like he portrays a goodie-two-shoes, product of the WWE machine without the in-ring skills to back up his main event status compounded by his history of “poopy jokes” promos.
“The reason that everybody wants to attach themselves to being authentic [is] because the word ‘authentic’ means, pardon my French, you give a s—. But ‘authentic’ is thrown around as ‘think outside the box’ and all the other b.s. we hear,” Cena said in a chat with Co.Create Editor Eric Alt at the conference, transcribed by FastCoCreate.com.
“When I (came to WWE) in 2002, it was more like the Jerry Springer show and now it’s really a good family program. So I’ve had to change the tools in my toolbox and adapt to my surroundings yet stay authentic to myself. My experiences in the wrestling ring have set me up for what I’m trying to do outside.”
Included in Cena’s experiences are deciding that he is an adult male within the 18-49 demographic that routinely boos his character at WWE shows, but he’s not going to change his character because it’s “authentic” to another segment of the audience.
“As a 39-year-old adult, I certainly would love to be a bad guy or to push the limits of the broadcast, but that is not my job. My job is to work for a company that produces PG television and do the best I can. In redefining my brand, I’m looking for opportunities outside of the WWE because I realize I have to play within certain goalposts,” Cena said.
To that end, Cena said he wants to see the WWE locker room listen to the audience more, instead of wrestling for themselves.
“A lot of our guys, because they want to put on what they think is a good performance for themselves, totally ignore the most valuable tool in the toolbox and that is the paying consumer,” Cena said. “When you empower the audience to be a part of the show it is a tool in your toolbox that you must not ignore.”
Cena also talked about diving deeper into the behind-the-scenes aspect of WWE, not just wanting to show up, wrestle, and leave. He said that drives his “authentic” connection to WWE, which leads to a passionate connection to all aspects of the business.
“I know WWE half-a-billion social followers. I know our business model to drive more people toward the network. I know our t-shirt sales. I know our consumer fan base. I know our attendance for live events. I know we’re not deep enough business-wise in China so I’m doing what I can to get us into China,” Cena said.
“I’m not just a dude who laces his shoes up and slides into the ring – I love the brand. And if I’m not active in the brand physically, I will be active in the brand mentally. And I do not align myself with properties that I don’t feel that passionate about. To me, that’s what being authentic is all about.”