John Cena represented WWE as the face of the company longer than anybody had before him. While Hulk Hogan, ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, and The Rock were considered the three biggest megastars the company had produced, none of them enjoyed the decade-long tenure on top that Cena did. However, according to his former manager, none of it may have happened if it weren’t for a certain superstar.
John Cena had his break on the main roster in 2002 when he debuted on SmackDown to confront Kurt Angle. Although he fell short against the future Hall of Famer, it was the start of Cena’s journey from rookie to all-time great.
On the latest episode of UnSKripted, John Cena’s former manager Kenny Bolin revealed that his association with Rico Constantino from the OVW days helped him. He shockingly revealed that Vince McMahon didn’t like Cena at first and that was Rico who got Cena along with him and not the other way around:
“John Cena would not be the star he is if Rico [Constantino] did not bring him along the way he did. Both of them had the same amount of experience. Rico had what, 12 matches under his belt when he joined OVW? But Jimmy [Cornette] doesn’t say that John Cena brought Rico along, but that Rico brought Cena along and gave him the opportunity to get advanced to the WWE. Because Vince McMahon did not get it. Vince McMahon did not like Cena, and he didn’t get the gimmick. “
Bolin admitted that even Cena had no idea how close he was to getting fired when Rico was let go. However, it was ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, Danny Davis, and Jim Cornette who went to help them out, and it eventually led to Cena staying in the company:
“[John] Cena doesn’t even know how close he was to going when Rico went for 90 days. Rico had to go up through assistance, through myself, and Stephanie McMahon. ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin went to bat, along with Danny Davis and Jim Cornette. And they all went to Stephanie and said “You’re paying him for 90 days. Put him on the road. What you guys see, what ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin saw when he came down here, he loved Rico and Steve went to the meeting with Rico got 4-5 years out of his career out of that. “
Had Cena been fired, it would have changed the course of WWE history.
You can hear Bolin talk about it in the video below (23:18):
Who would have been the face of WWE if not John Cena?
In hindsight, John Cena turned out to be the best pick as WWE’s franchise player. His decade-long tenure on the top was unprecedented and is a feat that may never be replicated.
There’s a reason why he is considered the last star that WWE has ever created. If not for him, who would Vince McMahon have gone with as the top star of the company? The answer would have been Brock Lesnar before 2004, but given that The Beast Incarnate left within two years due to his inability to handle the road schedule, there would always be that gap.
The go-to answer is Randy Orton, who was once believed to be the successor to the throne that was left when The Rock and ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin quietly retired. However, it’s unlikely that he would have been able to maintain his babyface role for a decade the way Cena did. Even in Cena’s case, it took years after he transitioned into a part-timer for fans to realize how great a talent he truly was and is.
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