John Cena admits to being 'short-sighted and selfish' when feuding with Dwayne Johnson
John Cena is opening up about how he nearly ruined his friendship with Dwayne Johnson.
The actor and pro wrestler, who engaged in a lengthy WWE rivalry with The Rock in 2012 and 2013, said that he and Johnson have largely remained good friends except for "one little patch" where he "really messed up."
"I got selfish and me — living WWE at the point and not having any concept of growth or someone else's perspective — I took Dwayne's comments [about the business] as not genuine," he explained on Thursday's episode of Happy Sad Confused. "My view was if you love something, be there everyday. Like, what a hypocrite I am, because I still love WWE and I can't go all the time. And I just didn't see that. I was so selfish."
The Peacemaker star noted that he had Johnson's number at the time of their WWE entanglement and should have discussed his issues with the star privately instead of dragging their drama into the public eye.
"Instead of going like, 'Hey man, I'd like to try to do this thing to hook you back in and maybe we can collaborate and really make it big,' I was just like, 'Eff this, I'm calling this dude out. This is a moment. You gave me an opening. I'm going to kick the door in,'" he recalled. "And I was diligent and I understand why he got upset."
Cena said that Johnson, alongside fellow wrestlers like Dave Bautista, had been working to change "the perception of the industry" and make it "okay to be in WWE," but that he simply didn't see it back then.
"These guys are breaking down barriers, shattering ceilings, and on top of that, just transcending the art form," he said. "I just got selfish and wanted a main event marquee match because it would better what I thought was the business. That was short-sighted and selfish. It worked! But it worked at the cost of two people who communicated and almost put it in jeopardy. There was a moment where there was a lot of bad vibes between us and rightfully so."
While they made some "great TV" together, Cena said it very nearly came "at the cost of our friendship, which I would like to say now is in a really good place."
Part of rekindling their bond was Cena admitting that he was partly at fault. "I knew exactly what I was doing, and I also knew that I had to punch up to his level," he said. "He came in a league of his own and to make sure that it's Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali, I've gotta be Mike Tyson. And Rock was like Ali and I was some scrub like Glass Joe from Punch-Out!!. I had to punch my way up."
He explained that, in any match, it's paramount that you're able to "trust your performer" no matter what "issues" you have with each other. "It's all in good fun and it's all for the business, but you're supposed to have trust with each other," Cena stressed. "And I violated his trust."
Michael Loccisano/Getty; Pablo Cuadra/WireImage John Cena; Dwayne Johnson
Things changed after Cena "came second" in the pair's WrestleMania XXVIII match at Miami's Sun Life Stadium in 2012.
"The first thing I did was I went to Dwayne's mom and I gave her a big hug and I said, 'I know you were brought up in this business, I hope you can understand my perspective, because I said some bad things to make you feel bad about me, and I said some bad things about your son. And I hope with what you just saw in our performance you understand that my goal was simply to sell tickets and do business.' She forgave me right there."
He then immediately went to Johnson's dressing room to similarly share his viewpoint on the fight. However, it wasn't until he began to prepare for their second match at WrestleMania 29 the following year that Cena realized it didn't need to be so negative.
"Not only did I hope he [understood] my perspective but, a year later, I knew that my perspective was wrong," Cena said. "And yes, it worked. And yes, we sold tickets, and yes, people loved it and they chose sides and it was a real polarizing event. We could've done it working together and playing nice, and that's my fault."
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