John Cena is challenging the WWE roster to step outside their comfort zone
Cena knows that things today don't work quite the same way they used to with the extra scripting in both promos and matches. But Cena believes the roster can still do more when it comes to listening to the audience when they are in the ring.
"Here's a message to all the talent out there; be brave enough to fail. Go out there with an open mind and open ears and entertain your audience. That's a way to bring that performance back. Here's the drawback; it's not going to be as surgical. It's not going to be as precise of intricate. And the audience has shown that they enjoy that. I'm speaking as a dinosaur but I do have a perception of the current landscape. Social media keeps us on a short attention span, we want the best and we want it now. We don't want anything to be off one step. We want it to look perfect. But, if you have the other skill in your back pocket, it wouldn't hurt. Roman is completely capable of doing something like that. Seth Rollins (as well). I've wrestled with a lot of the guys by that method. So I know they can do it. But I don't know if they can do it," said Cena on WWE After The Bell.
Cena then reflected on a couple of times in his career when he changed a match on the fly because of something the audience was doing.
"Some performers work for the sound rather than being there, listening to the sound and adapting to the environment. When you empower the audience, our biggest star of the actual product, when you empower them, they'll put you on the wave. Then you just have to reign them in, to the confines of the story. You can't go out there and turn yourself heel or change a finish. I've had fights happen in the audience where we've stopped and looked at the fight and woven into the storyline. I had some dude marry a girl in the audience and we stopped. It was on TV, we stopped, I addressed the marriage, and I turned around and got clocked. The heel took the heat," he recalled. "The beach ball deal. Love when stuff like that happens. I know it's not good for television, but I think it is because you involve the audience. 'Cesaro, go get the damn ball.' 'I can't, it's in the fifth row.' 'I don't care, go get it.' Moments like that where you stop, get out of your self-absorbed bubble and you look at the massive energy going around, 'what are they really entertained by?' They're entertained by a ball and not by me. They're all entertained by the ball, we have to do something with the ball. They're all doing the wave. So, I'm gonna do the wave. I'm gonna orchestrate the wave. if they boo me, hit me. If they cheer me, hit me. Just acknowledging the fact that they're giving you something. I think a lot of guys and gals get nervous, 'What I'm doing isn't good enough. I'm going to do something faster.' What a way for (the crowd) to be like, 'Forget it. I gave you my energy and you threw it away.'"
He finished by saying, "That's why you can't get anybody to try it because it's stupidly simple. I'm not a good wrestler, everybody knows this, as far as technical ability. Unorthodox is the label I like to keep sacred because it still makes me sound like I know what I'm doing. I'm one of those guys that's brave enough to be foolishly simple and start at the most simple story."
Cena was critical of the WWE roster throughout the interview, saying he wasn't sure WWE can produce a frontman to lead things into a new era. You can find his full comments by clicking here.
If you use any of the quotes above, please give a h/t and link back to Fightful for the transcription.