On episode 28 of the Playback podcast, 16-time world champion John Cena talked about the film, The Wrestler, premature deaths in pro wrestling, and the upcoming Vince McMahon biopic, Pandemonium.
On the subject of The Wrestler, Cena said he loved the film as well as lead actor Mickey Rourke’s portrayal of an aged indie wrestler. ‘The Franchise’ described the film as an excellent depiction of an 80s star who attempts to relive past glory and it can be applied to any number of fields such as entertainment and sports.
“I thought it was wonderful and everyone always asks me about that so cautiously, like, ‘what do you think of The Wrestler?’ I loved it because I thought the film could have been called The Ball Player [or] The Rockstar. The story could have been anything. It was about the life and a guy who was so entrenched in the life that he couldn’t let go. And that happened a lot to 80s superstars. You get caught up in this whirlwind and it is, man. And this is just for us, you leave on Friday [and] you get back on Tuesday. You leave Friday and you get back Tuesday again and it’s constant. You just get institutionalized. For the guys in the 80s, you had even more, sometimes double-shots, you do a show at 11 [am] and you do a show at 7 [pm]. You’re gone 41 days, and then, you’re home for 10 [days]. Then, you’re gone for another 41. Like, that is a lifestyle, man. It happens in entertainment all the time. It happens in athletics all the time.”
Cena continued, “and I thought they took our genre and they used it so wonderfully. And man, what a wonderful performance Mickey did and just, it was real, man. It was just a great depiction of how someone can’t get rid of the rush and they still want that one last try. Do you know what? It’s gone. It’s gone.”
With respect to premature deaths in pro wrestling, Cena professed that it all comes down to personal choice and there are a lot of performers who go on the road and leave the pro wrestling business unscathed.
“I think it all comes down to personal choice. You look at choices in the entertainment industry, there are great entertainers that we lose too soon all because it comes down to personal choice, so it’s not necessarily the life. There are a lot of guys that did all those dates on the road and they’re fine. And there are a lot of guys who lived like there was no tomorrow and guess what: when you do that there’s no tomorrow. Like, that stuff catches up with you plain and simple, so it’s again, not [relegated] to a profession.”
Moreover, Cena claimed that WWE looks after talent like family even though they are all independent contractors.
“What I admire about the WWE nowadays is that even though the way we are set up, as independent contractors, they take care of us as if we are family. They offer financial assistance, onsite healthcare if you get injured. We get injury pay now. They offer secondary education. They offer a second language program. The depth that they go to make sure we are protected is… they don’t need to do that and they do it anyway. It’s a great testament to how much they care about their current talent and talent of life after the [pro wrestling] business.”
According to Cena, he would love to play McMahon in the upcoming film about the life of WWE’s Chairman. ‘The Leader Of The Cenation’ said whoever gets the role will be given an interesting challenge because McMahon is truly unique.
“That script is amazing! That is something that I read in one sitting and, like, man, I need to be a part of this movie.” Cena admitted, “man, I don’t want to get myself in hot water with him, but I’d love to. I’d love to. I just love the story. The words jump off the page. I certainly know and admire the man. He’s literally one of my heroes. He has been a friend, a father, a mentor. Whoever does that, they have a wonderfully crafted challenge in front of them because he is one-of-a-kind.”
Cena went on to say that actor Tom Hardy would be a fantastic choice for the part of McMahon.
“I think [Tom Hardy] would be a fantastic choice. I don’t know if he has final say. I think the people making the movie do, but that’s a fantastic choice. Vince is just so unique, man. I can’t wait to see the movie. They already have my ticket money.”
Check out the podcast here. If you use any of the quotes that appear in this article, please credit Playback with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.