What does your diet consist of?
A lot of meal replacements just due to time constraint. But I do eat. I eat well. I don’t really, I guess, like, steam my own food and cook my own food in advance. I enjoy food, but I just don’t make bad decisions. I stay away from fried foods [and] desserts, really.
What’s been your toughest injury to rehab from?
Just a basic elbow scope, believe it or not. I had reconstructive pectoral surgery, I had a cervical neck fusion, and a scope, and the scope was the toughest.
Neck fusion wasn’t the toughest?
No, it was the easiest. I walked out of the hospital that day. I went to TV that night. I did SmackDown that night.
What sorts of activities do you enjoy outside of the gym?
Between my schedule of WWE and this, I guess just relaxing. This [gym time] takes up all my time, between this and work.
You work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. How does it make you feel to know you’re giving these children such an uplifting experience when they need it most?
They make me feel just as good as whatever the reciprocating feeling is. I feel it’s the utmost sense of flattery to have somebody with one wish say, ‘I want to hang out with John Cena.’ If I were given one wish, I’d be the last on my list.
You and the WWE raised $1 million for the Susan G. Komen breast cancer awareness group. Where did you get the idea to align those organizations?
It seemed like all other sports were doing something like that. Maybe not necessarily Komen, but recognizing breast cancer awareness month, and I know we might have been last to the party, but we were certainly one of the most effective. Like you said, a million dollars in five weeks is pretty damn good.
You’ve often said the WWE Tribute to the Troops specials are the biggest shows of the year for you. Do you feel a special connection with the troops?
I like to think we stand for the same principles. Like you asked me what “Hustle, loyalty, respect” is: It’s just taking their principle and putting it into my own words. I admire the military. I guess in a world of villains and heroes, they’re my heroes. Their dedication, their commitment, their discipline, their code of ethics. So, I try to tip my cap to that as much as I can.
As a wrestler, how many days a week are you touring?
Many. Anywhere between four and six or seven, depending on the week. I’ve often publicized the busyness of our schedule, but that’s just to familiarize ignorant people with, Hey, we don’t just travel once a week. Or when people condescendingly talk about what we do. It would be like an NFL player having 300 games a year instead of 16. You know, they tried to expand the schedule to 18, and the union was up in arms. So, by advertising our schedule, it’s pretty much saying, Hey, I know we’re entertainment, that’s for sure, but to sell us short is just being ignorant.
Describe the pressure you feel being the industry’s franchise player.
I love it. I love it. Like I said, this is not a job to me—it’s my life. I’ve given up a normal life to live this life. It never gets to be too much. Even with the literally instant criticism of the Internet, I still welcome it all. It’s fantastic.
What’s kept you going strong for more than 10 years?
It’s obvious, I love the business. It’s not a matter of financial gain or loss. It’s a matter of passion, and everyone keeps asking me, “Well, when’s the transition coming?” There is no transition. If there’s a transition, it’s a lateral transition within this company to help mold the future of the company. I’ve been enamored of the business, and that’s not just in the ring. I love everything about it. Just the spontaneity of it all—I love it and I don’t want to be anywhere else.
Have you started having those conversations?
I still got a little gas in the tank. So, no. No, I ain’t there yet, I ain’t even close. I’m stronger now at 35 than I’ve ever been in my life, and healthier as well. It’s been proven that guys who want it as bad as you do can keep on going. It’s a matter of lifestyle choice. When I tell you I’ve literally sacrificed a normal life, I have. This is my focus: How do I stay as healthy as I can for this? As I’m getting older, I know that injuries will be more prevalent.
So how do you alter your lifestyle to prevent injury?
It’s not like I’m living as I did when I was 26. I want to do this, this is my main priority, so, in doing so, different workout, different rest, different pace.
I know a lot of guys play video games. I’m wondering what you do to unwind?
It’s on that table right over there.
And your greatest stress reliever?
Right here. [Points to the weights] If I’m angry, if anything is bothering me—you just saw [my workout]—it’s not a sculpting deal.
Are you looking forward to facing the Rock once more?
I’ve openly said it. I want a second shot. After losing at WrestleMania , I had a pretty much garbage 2012. That one really stung. I spent a year telling everybody I had to win that thing, and finishing second was…it was what it was.
Are there any adrenaline rushes you’d like to experience?
I don’t need to chase the thrill. I don’t need to chase adrenaline. I get it every single week. That is absolutely it.
Have you ever feared for your safety?
No. Not once. This is a public-eye business, and it’s almost like, the contact that’s involved, it’s a physical business. You’re going to get hurt. Your body is going to be more worn than someone who sits in a cubicle all day long. When I’m 55, I’ll be much more worn than John Q. Public, but I’ll have so many great memories. I get it. I get the end product of all this, and I’m not going to blame anyone. I know what I’m signing up for. I know the risks of travel complications, accidents, someone in the live audience.
But, I just figured, performing in front of the troops...
Performing in a war zone. No, you are briefed on the fact that it is a war zone. Things can go wrong. I’m still happy to be there, to go out there. I think if safety were an issue I just wouldn’t do it.
What motivates you?
This. Like I said, this doesn’t stop.