John Cena Talks His Start in Pro Wrestling, Vince McMahon’s First Words to Him, Who Did He Get the AA From?, American Grit and More

Nick Paglino
john cena

(Photo by FOX via Getty Images)

As noted, John Cena will be appearing on “Centerstage with Michael Kay” tomorrow night, and the interview airs on the YES Network in New York City at 11pm EST.

The YES Network is available nationally on DirecTV, Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-Verse, and also throughout the country on a variety of cable systems. To learn more about the YES Network’s availability beyond its home-team footprint (which consists of all of New York State and Connecticut, north and central New Jersey, and northeastern Pennsylvania), click here.

The following interview highlights have been issued:

Getting his start in the business:

“It (Ultimate Pro Wrestling’s Ultimate University) was… in Orange County, in Southern California. At the time, sports entertainment was truly at its zenith. It was the Monday Night Wars. There were two companies competing against each other, so it was really, really shock television every week. Like, “Wow, what are these guys gonna do next?”, so the eyes of the world really focused in on these two companies battling it out, and in turn it spawned imitation. There were a lot of companies that were trying to do the same thing, and this (Ultimate Pro Wrestling) was a company in Southern California, trying to put together a name for itself and, it was a company that offered training, and through training is the way that I got started, and you can’t have a finish if you don’t have a start, so I’m forever thankful to Ultimate Pro Wrestling.”

After Cena’s WWF Superstars debut against Mike Richardson in 2000, he bought 86 pair of boots and 128 pair of tights so he could look the part:

“William Regal is a wrestler from the U.K. and a very certifiable technician. He has a certain style that only few can be fluent in, and he just makes things look effortless. So, I have this debut match, and then I come back, I say, “Mr. Regal, how was it?” And he has a very dry, British sense of humor. And his response was, “Well, lad, if you just get a set of boots and tights, at least you’ll look like a wrestler.” So, here I am, thinking, “Well, (all) I need is boots and tights and I’m good.” When he was really saying, “Jesus, at least look the part.” He was honest, but in the same token, I didn’t take his advice. I just thought, like, “I just need boots and tights and I’m good.” So, I went out and bought 86 pairs of boots and like 128 pairs of tights. And I vowed to never wear the same thing twice.”

Vince McMahon’s first words about Cena:

“I got to meet Vince McMahon in Chicago in 2002, which is where I made my (mainstage, WWE television) debut, and it was the night of my debut, and my debut shouldn’t have even happened. Kurt Angle was supposed to wrestle a fellow named TheUndertaker that night, and The Undertaker actually could not make the show. He was extremely ill and didn’t show up, and they needed a replacement, and somebody threw my name out there because it would just be like a single match and it would do more for Kurt Angle than anybody else and Vince said “Okay,” so they brought me in to see Vince, and I had a long, horrible, badly-dyed mop haircut at the time. And my first meeting with Vince McMahon went something like this: I was shoved into a room and someone over my shoulder said, “What do you think?” And he (McMahon) turns around and goes, “Cut his hair.” That was my first meeting with my boss. I love him. I admire him as a human being. I think he’s … just a wonderful example of hard work paying off. To this day he does not need to show up. He is always hands on. He always shows up. His drive is incomparable.”

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