John Cena Comments On WWE Releases, Recalls It Being Commonplace Early In His Career

John Cena has commented on the mass exodus of talent and staff from WWE.

Over the past couple of years, WWE has released hundreds of employees, with layoffs, sadly, becoming an increasingly more frequent occurrence. Most recently, industry veterans such as William Regal, Samoa Joe, and Road Dogg were let go from their roles in NXT and at the Performace Center.

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Appearing on The Rich Eisen Show, John Cena shared his thoughts on the matter, noting how it was commonplace for bi-annual cuts when he first started with the company. Once the Ruthless Aggression Era caught fire, the roster was allowed to grow. Though he feels awful for everyone released, and understands that his perspective was shaped by the time in which he was brought in, he sees this as an abrupt shift back to the way things used to be.

"There's a lot to unpack here. When I started in the WWE, they had just absorbed WCW and ECW and also had two developmental territories and the rosters were abundant. When I started, there were releases twice a year and it created stakes for developmental talent and for talent to try and make a name for themselves. We just knew. We knew that on a calendar year, shortly after WrestleMania and either before or after the holidays, there would be cuts. There always were. That seemed to stop right around when we started to redefine ourselves, I'll say like the Ruthless Aggression style characters. Me, Brock (Lesnar), Randy (Orton), Dave (Batista). When those guys began to anchor in and develop the program going forward for the next peace and more and we started to expand our reach and have more programming, the talent roster started to get big. I think a lot of it, I'm not thinking for the WWE, this is just me posing a different perspective, I think a lot of it might have been defensive hiring because there was and still is a giant boom in sports entertainment. People are absorbing this content and people are making a name for themselves outside the WWE, it's no longer a one stop shop. With this flux of passionate people who love sports entertainment, people get a name for themselves outside of WWE. If the WWE feels that maybe they can be a fit in that world, they're going to try and give that person a shot. They are really bullish on continuing to hire new talent. The NXT Performance Center is, I don't want to say overwhelmed, but they are at max capacity. You have all these performers and a lot of them aren't getting a chance to perform. I think that's the real frustrating thing, both to WWE and the performer. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, it is a business. When I started in the WWE, I was fortunate enough to be at the show in Atlanta where Stone Cold Steve Austin was fired. That moment right there shot through me like a cannon because I got the impression that if they can fire Stone Cold Steve Austin, unless your name is Vince McMahon, everyone is replaceable.

A lot of the frustration from the audience out there is, they view sports entertainment like I do. I love watching matches and seeing potential in human beings and performers. I see potential in everybody, especially as people start to define a gimmick or personality. I love to be able to run with in conversations and see how far we can take it. There is only so many spots and only so much program. I understand, from a business standpoint, the amount of releases that had to happen if the company justifies, 'this is the move we're making, we want to carry less talent,' it has very little to do with profit loss margin. If the company strategy is to run on a lean roster, it doesn't matter, you run on a lean roster. If the company strategy is to run on a fat roster...I remember when we had stacks of performers and the stock price was $7. It was the directive that the company was given, to run on a talent heavy roster or a talent lean roster.

Obviously, this is a touchy subject and it's going to elicit perspective from everyone and everyone is entitled to their perspective. The sad thing here is people who have this gift aren't being allowed to use it and they are out of a job. That is the absolute saddest thing. People no longer work at a company they called home for a period of time. I feel for everybody who has go in that direction. All of us, myself included, our journey will eventually have an end. When you're in it, sometimes you don't have that perspective. I personally, from my early days in WWE, always had the perceptive that it could be over tomorrow for any and all of us because if they could fire Steve Austin, there is no way I am close to his ability, so they could fire me. That's just the culture I was brought up in and bi-annual cuts happened all the time. WWE went through such a long period of not releasing anybody. Now, they're getting back into that rhythm again and it's a very abrupt shift to somebody who is not familiar with that. My heart goes out to everybody who has to get that sad news. It's a tough conversation to have," Cena said.

During a recent interview, Cena said that although he isn't sure whether he'll be at WrestleMania 38, he isn't nearly done with WWE. You can find those comments here.

Cena's 'Peacemaker' series is set to premiere on Thursday, January 13, 2022, on HBO Max (USA) and Crave (Canada). You can watch the latest trailer for The Suicide Squad spin-off here.

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