You’re only 35, and WWE tends to shift the focus away from guys at around the age of 40. How do you react to that?
My goal is to do the best I can for this company—no matter what the circumstance. That’s it. And I’ve made a pact to myself that—you can tell when you’re a step behind somebody—when I become a step behind, it’s time to go.
Any idea how many more years?
No, it’s when I’m just not as good as everyone.
Are you targeting Ric Flair’s record of 16 world titles?
No, and I know the group of folks you speak of, who don’t necessarily think so kindly of me, are certainly going to want to find the tallest tree in the land if that ever happens. I’d like to stop at 13, but hold on to it longer than Bruno [Sammartino]. How’s that?
What’s been your favorite career rivalry?
My all-time favorite is the Rock. Absolutely. He tends to bring out the best in everyone. And that’s, I guess, thinking about it in retrospect, that’s why I admire him so much. Whether I personally like him or not is irrelevant. He brings out the best in everyone.
If you could face anyone in their prime, past or present, who would it be?
Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson. Thank God he’s in his prime. I think he looks much better this year than he ever has. He truly seems focused.
What words of advice would the 2013 John Cena give to the 2002 John Cena?
Start training for the future earlier. [Laughs] Had I only taken care of myself a little bit better. I went through a phase where I just thought I was bulletproof and didn’t take proper care of myself. But, I absolutely regret nothing. I’m glad everything has happened the way it’s happened. If you don’t learn from your mistakes, then they become regrets. But, I’m glad I make them because I can learn from them all.
Did you ever envision becoming such a mainstream star, and do you think it’s changed you in any way?
No and no. I think it’s something that I enjoy doing so much, and that’s apparent. I may be a little smarter in a business sense, but I’d like to think I’m the same person. I hang out with a lot of the people I did when I was in high school, when I was in college, and I have a strong unit of people around me, whether it be friends or family, and if my head gets too big, they will definitely check me immediately.
What’s the hardest thing you do every day of your life?
Find time to accomplish everything.
What is your greatest career accomplishment thus far?
Just being as involved as I am in all of this. Like I said, I’m one of the many guys who will go out there and say that they love it, but I genuinely do love it. And, I think that’s apparent in how I live my life.
You’ve always been a leader. Have you ever thought about politics?
No, not at all. Not at all. Not once.
What would you do if you weren’t a wrestler?
I would be teaching somewhere—most likely either U.S. History or physical education, and I would be coaching football. Either that or I’d be a Marine. I’d be involved somehow in the armed services.
Any more movies planned?
No. Things come and they go, but I’ve been close in a lot of stuff and, to be quite honest, it comes down to, well, would you be willing to take time off to shoot the movie? And my answer is always no—it really has to be an unbelievably inviting scenario, because they’re asking me to take time off from what I love. And, the great thing about doing all the WWE Films stuff , or even the little stuff I did with, like, Fred: The Movie, is that they accommodated my schedule so I could film lm and still perform. I just don’t want to be away from this.
How about another CD?
I’ve been thinking of somehow doing like a 10th anniversary remastering of You Can’t See Me, ’cause I still have about 70 tracks that have never seen the light of day.
What are some of the differences between working with a guy like the Rock or CM Punk?
To me, it’s all the same. I think the one thing that Dwayne carries with him is that aura of being the best, so you need to be on your game at all times. But, you certainly do with Punk, as well, because he’ll cut you up in many diff event ways. [Laughs]
What’s going to make WrestleMania 29 stand out for you?
For me, personally, I love the fact that it’s in New York and New Jersey. That is literally home field for the WWE. And, to be quite honest, when you get close to that Times Square location, it becomes the center of the world. I’m really happy about that—just to be, if you trace the lineage of the company, literally in the backyard of the WWE. They used to talk about Madison Square Garden or maybe Shea Stadium. And now it’s MetLife Stadium. And it’s bigger, it’s better, it’s more entertaining. That holds a lot of weight with me, personally. Like I said, I’m obsessed with the performance side as well as the business side, and to see the business thriving after all these years is really, really cool.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Show up to work on time. Outwork the other guy.
What final thoughts or advice would you like to share with the Men’s Fitness readers?
Fitness is goal oriented. Stay committed to your goals. I often commercialize the phrase, “Never give up.” If you want to achieve a certain level of fitness, whether it be endurance, strength, or appearance, you have to be committed and truly never give up.
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