John Cena Says He’s Now A ‘Nostalgia Act’, Fan Reaction To ‘Summer Of Cena’ Caught Him By Surprise

John Cena is one of the most polarizing acts in professional wrestling history.

Former 16-time WWE World Champion John Cena recently appeared on The Pat McAfee Show and would admit that when he returned in 2021 for the 'Summer of Cena', he didn't get the consistent back-and-forth reaction that he would get when he was in the midst of his full-time WWE career.

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"I'm probably at the point where I could be deemed a nostalgia act, and you got to see it firsthand," said Cena. "Not to say that I didn't treat it very seriously and I love every single time I step on the canvas, but man, had you showed up a little before that, it wasn't the same reaction as it was for Summer Cena. Summer Cena, for me, I was caught by surprise every single arena I went to. It's usually a lot more, as Michael Cole would say, 'polarizing' than that. That was my first experience where the majority of the audience appreciate my presence there because normally, it's weird, you go out and try and play a character of virtue and people tell you to 'fuck off' and they'd really tell me that. That's an interesting combination and that's what makes WWE beautiful and the live audience so special. They decide how they feel about characters. You can be a virtuous character and built on hard work, loyalty, and respect and embody perseverance and the audience can choose, as a collective, 'this isn't what we're into right now, we prefer someone in gray or more flawed.' I'm glad you got to see the reaction, but it wasn't always like that. I'm grateful that it wasn't because it challenged me every night, if I'm going to play this virtuous character, I better do a damn good job because not only did they want to tell me to 'eff off,' they were waiting for me to slip up. The audience always kept me at my best and I'm thankful for that. It wasn't that I didn't want to get eaten alive. I'm as passionate as the people on the other side of the barrier. WWE is that weird zone where it isn't pure sport, it's not 'he who runs fastest wins,' It's a participation even with every person involved. If you're in section 313, you're still in the act and you know when the red light is on, all of us are on TV collectively and all of our voices are heard. I don't cater to (the television audience) a lot. My ethos has been, 'if everyone in the arena is having a good time, the audience at home is having a good time.' I always want the arena to be rocking. Everyone shows up with high energy."

Cena last appeared on WWE television in August 2021 when he lost to Roman Reigns in his bud to become a 17-time WWE World Champion. Following his defeat to Reigns, a returning Brock Lesnar would attack Cena, delivering multiple German suplexes and F-5's to the Massachusetts-native as the show went off-the-air.

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