Source: Adam Graham / The Detroit News
John Cena was once professional wrestling’s answer to Eminem. The WWE champ first gained notoriety earlier this decade with a white rapper gimmick that would find him “freestyling” rhymes against his opponents.
But Cena eventually dropped the rapper shtick — after recording an album of rap songs, 2005’s “You Can’t See Me,” that is — and went on to do white rappers everywhere a service by beating up Kevin Federline in a WWE ring.
Before putting on his WWE Championship belt on the line against Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 23 on April 1 in Detroit, Cena talked to The Detroit News last month in Bakersfield, Calif., about his love of the Big III — that’s WrestleMania III — as well as the Big 3, yo.
When did you know you were going to become a professional wrestler?
The moment I was completely hooked on wrestling, believe it or not, was WrestleMania III in Detroit, where Hulk Hogan slammed Andre the Giant. As a very impressionable young boy, if that didn’t make an impact, there’s not much more you can do.
Did you watch it live?
That was the first one they put on Pay Per View. My family, being a bunch of huge wrestling fans, we made it an event very similar to a Super Bowl party. And watching it with the whole family in the living room for the first time, it was awesome.
What are your hobbies outside of the ring?
Believe it or not, in direct correlation with the Motor City of Detroit, I’m a huge car guy. Not just a car guy, but an old-school American-muscle guy. I’m a big fan of the Big 3, and even the little one, being American Motors.
Do you have a big collection?
I’ve got enough to keep me in trouble. But they’re all old, they’re all original, and they’re all good quality Detroit muscle.
What is your dream match-up?
I tell you what, if I could have any possible scenario, I think what everybody’s going to be seeing on April 1. I think John Cena vs. “The Heart Break Kid” Shawn Michaels is something that a lot of people thought they wouldn’t see, because I’ll be honest with you, we’re two guys that actually get along pretty well, and kind of always have.
Do you have any routines you go through before a big match?
If I can pinpoint my religion directly, I guess it would be superstition. I always put a lucky penny in my shoe. I always wear my lucky dog tags out to the ring before every match. I always knock on wood. I have one — this gets crazy — I have one vitamin C cough drop. And that’s about it.
Which shoe do you put the penny in?
Always the left shoe, always face up, too.
Complete this sentence: It if weren’t for ______, I wouldn’t be here today.
If it weren’t for Vincent Kennedy McMahon, I wouldn’t be here today. None of us would.