Ring Rust Radio: We’ve seen the mainstream success of WWE Superstars like The Rock and Batista when crossing over into other mediums. Was American Grit just a passion project or are you hoping it leads to bigger opportunities in mainstream media?
John Cena: Anything you do in entertainment, you don’t just want to just do it and leave it out there with no rhyme or reason behind it. That’s just not a smart business move. The great thing about American Grit is that it runs parallel with the WWE. You want to talk about passion projects, WWE is my life and it is my passion. When something like American Grit comes along that I helped create from the very first conversation into fruition of airing the first episode, it becomes a passion project. If you look at what I do on WWE television, essentially what I’m doing on American Grit is very close and runs a fine line between the two shows. So essentially, I get to do what I love in WWE and in American Grit. I don’t just see it as something like I’ll just put this out there and hope for the best. I hope it brings more and better business opportunities, I hope it brings more brand awareness, I hope we can do more and I hope it establishes a better relationship with Fox. There are just so many things I can talk about with this show and I can see how it could be used as a vehicle, but right now I just want a bunch of folks to watch episode two and we’ll see where it goes.
Ring Rust Radio: American Grit is a physically demanding show and injuries are almost inevitable. You have suffered through several injuries in your career, so what did you tell contestants suffering through pain and can you provide any update on the current status of your shoulder injury and a possible return date?
John Cena: I’m feeling pretty damn good, man. I’m like a relief pitcher in the bullpen just waiting for that phone call. I’m ready to go, and I’m just waiting for the manager to ring the phone and I’ll answer it. I’ll go throw on the old Superman outfit and show up where they need me to and do what they need me to do. As far as my condition, that’s where I’m at. As far as me educating the competitors about taking care of themselves, I think that would just be assumed from what you do. The great thing about American Grit, and this was by design, if you watch a lot of these competition shows, some of the feats they have to accomplish have so much into them that it’s almost unrelatable to the audience at home. They’re just so over produced. In episode one, we had folks carry a log. Then we had them run an obstacle course and that’s something you could definitely find on your local obstacle run. Then we had him hold a rope and this is all by design because I want every person who watches this to see, feel, relate and compare. I want people to feel what they’re going through, to think they can relate to that, they’ve had to do something like that before in their life, and how would they do if they were in their shoes. I think we did a really good job about not thinking over the head of the audience and go for uber spectacular things that people have no idea what it feels like to do or can’t conceptualize. So these things being basic, everyone has an understanding of the toll it can take on a body. Injuries happen in anything that’s active. Hell, you can get hurt crossing the street, but I think competitors have a general better awareness in American Grit because it’s all stuff that people are genuinely familiar with.
Ring Rust Radio: What was the most rewarding experience for you while filming American Grit and you think we could see a special episode with WWE superstars in the future?
John Cena: I think the possibilities of the show are limitless, I really do because of what it is based on. You will be put in a certain area of the earth, you will work with the team as best you can, and at one point or another your resolve will be tested. Any single human being can fit in that category. I really think the possibilities of this are endless. I think it would be unbelievable television if they did a WWE version of American Grit. The thing that I’ve learned the most and that I’m most proud of with the show is all the good that happens within it honestly. I remember when we filmed the final, and I’m walking away saying to myself either America is going to be ready for this or they’re not because it is just unlike anything you see on television. There is no voting, the backstabbing manipulation is a waste of breath because it is not necessarily about the biggest or strongest. Competitors are immediately downsized and they will just have to ante up and do their best. There are no unholy alliances because it doesn’t move you forward at all. It is on your team and how well you function as a team and you as an individual when you are called to face the circus as we call it on American Grit. You just know you will have to get to a point where you extend beyond yourself. For people that have to bow out, it’s disappointing. For people that can survive the circus, the bond made between teammates, the bond between cadres, and looking inside themselves is worth it. Goldie for example, she said and I quote, “Thank you for believing in me.” It was so great and moments like that make me happy. That’s what I really love most about the show. I don’t know, there’s so much dark stuff on television right now, and like I said I don’t know how America Grit will take but I watch it and I love it. I just hope everybody at home feels as good about American Grit as they watch it as well
Ring Rust Radio: You’ve mastered performing in front of large audiences, but was there any pressure or nerves on your end hosting American Grit?
John Cena: Absolutely. You put your heart and soul into something that you want it to be so good and you know you have something more than just a television show. Like I said, it speaks volumes about how the military can function in regular society and it has good moral fiber. When something can hit this well on multiple platforms you want it to do so well. You do everything you can and that’s what I’m talking to you guys right now because I believe in the show. Of course you get nervous when it airs. You get nervous of public opinion, but I’ve learned a lot in my long and strenuous career in WWE. I certainly had my shares of hits, but I’ve had my share of misses to go with them. You do the best that you can, you promote your product the best you can and then there’s a point where it’s just out of your hands.