At WrestleMania 39, John Cena returned to the ring and lost to Austin Theory in a United States Championship match.
During an interview on the Notsam Wrestling podcast, Cena revealed that he advised Theory to “fail” in order to move forward.
Cena gave the example of Roman Reigns’ babyface run as the ‘Face of WWE’ from 2015 to 2020. Cena told Theory that he’s going to need about 85 of Roman Reigns’ infamous “suffering succotash” promos to fail and eventually get a better understanding of the wrestling business.
Below is what the 16-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion said:
“To get him in a space to speak and have him not be able to craft what he wants to say is a young man trying to find his way. Fast forward to where he doesn’t have to say a f**king word. That’s a man who knows who he is. Period. Is he a different human being? Yes. Authentically, I believe what he’s doing. This is why I was just really trying to hammer this home with Theory.
It took Roman 10 years, 8 years at the top, pushed for 8 years for the light bulb to go off like, ‘I’m doing it my way. I will work with who they say, I will hit my times, but I’m going to be who I really am, and I’m gonna take these facets.’
Whether it was the pandemic that gave him his nuance, because he’s such a nuanced performer. He’s a film performer in live entertainment and I think maybe the absence of people not only allowed him to be more nuanced, but it killed the polarization. You can’t boo him just because you want to be on TV with your audience that night because there is no audience.
He’s really good. When you took away that thing that I built, that, ‘Okay, the company is pushing this guy? Go against him just to do the thing. But he’s really good. Forget it. It’s gonna be awesome. Chaos. We run the asylum.’ I love that, but it doesn’t help someone like Roman find confidence, and performing without an audience, in my mind. Like, you could just see a different human being.
Everyone was like, now they’re into it because he’s into it. I believe it. He doesn’t have to go out there and say suffering succotash anymore. He gives himself, so whatever they want, ‘Build this issue with this person.’ ‘I got it.’ He’s super self aware. He’s aware of others. His ring awareness, like, he’s always been incredibly athletic. He’s always been a sponge, but he’s a very intellectual individual as well. People don’t necessarily know that about him. He’s super smart and he just needed that perfect storm to get going.
So when I talk to somebody like Theory who’s got stars in his eyes, and at 25 thinks he’s got a long road in front of him, I’m like, ‘Man, you really need to start now, failing. Don’t just perform, fail, like a lot, and then one day, you’ll get it. You need to have like 85 suffering succotash moments.'”