Steve Lombardi, otherwise known in the ring as perennial WWE jobber The Brooklyn Brawler, quickly saw the potential in John Cena.
Appearing recently on Chris Jericho's Talk Is Jericho podcast, the Brawler shared an anecdote from the early 2000s -- back when Cena was known as The Prototype in Ohio Valley Wrestling -- and Lombardi was shooting promotional spots to air in local markets.
"I remember Cena came in the room and he didn't come in the room. He was standing around. He had a mohawk. He called himself The Prototype. And, I mean, he was just standing in the back and I said, 'why don't you come in here and cut a promo? I hear you can talk.' And he starting doing this interview and then he did it in reverse. And then he, like, rewind, kind of deal." Lombardi added, "I went to Vince. I said, 'Vince, we have a ringer.' He goes, 'Really?' And then, he [said], 'take him off the dark match and put him on Smackdown.''"
Lombardi spent more than three decades in WWE. While serving as an enhancement talent inside the squared circle, he played a major role behind the scenes as well before leaving the promotion this past summer.
During the podcast interview, Lombardi said he remained loyal to WWE, and noted that he was approached by an investigator regarding the current class action lawsuit by dozens of former WWE performers who say they suffered lasting damage over concussions and post-concussion syndrome. Lombardi said he would be willing to testify on WWE's behalf when or if the lawsuit goes to trial, describing the lawsuit as "frivolous" and "stupidity."
Credit to Wrestling Inc. for the transcript.