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John Cena Reflects On The First Time He Wrestled In Front Of People And His Love Of Live Crowds

John Cena in a grey suit with a white shirt and black tie sitting for an interview on The Tonight Show.

Popular wrestler turned actor John Cena stopped by The Tonight Show this week to hype up his new movie Vacation Friends. During the appearance, he touched on a variety of topics including his love for performing in front of live audiences. As part of the conversation, Jimmy Fallon asked the longtime WWE star if he remembered the first time he wrestled in front of fans. He, of course, does, and not surprisingly, it was not the most well-attended match of his career.

You don’t just go from nowhere to main eventing WrestleMania. You have to work your way up there, and in the case of Cena, working his way up apparently started at LA Boxing in Orange County. But there’s something about the live crowd that gets people hooked, and John Cena has clearly never lost that connection. He touched on that rush and the nerves that come with it. You can check out a portion of his quote below from his Tonight Show appearance

(My first match) was in a gym called LA Boxing in Orange County and seven people were there. I was not good. So, nothing’s really changed... I’m nervous behind the curtain. I’m always nervous. I think if you lose those nerves, if you lose that anticipatory excitement, you gotta move on. You should always have that energy.

John Cena has been on such a role lately. His turn in The Suicide Squad was widely praised by fans and critics this summer and is leading to a forthcoming spinoff series about his character Peacemaker. His most recent movie, Vacation Friends, isn’t exactly The Hangover 1 but is getting a lot of better-than-expected reviews and his return to wrestling was very widely praised by fans.

Cena has mostly been away from the squared circle over the past few years as he’s grown his movie career, but he returned to do a month or so long program with wrestling’s top heel Roman Reigns. Their work was very well received, as was their ultimate match at SummerSlam where Cena came in “second place,” as he put it. Still, professional wrestling is less about winning and more about putting on a good show, and he certainly did that. Plus, you can always tell in live wrestling whether the crowd wants you there or not, and Cena got some tremendous pops from the crowd. As such, it seems very likely we’ll see him back wrestling for WWE at some point in the near to mid future.

Beyond his uncertain wrestling future and the upcoming Peacemaker TV series, Cena has a few exciting projects in the works. He’s set to star opposite action legend Jackie Chan in Snafu, which is about special forces officers escorting citizens in Baghdad through the Highway of Death. After that, he can be seen in Argylle, an upcoming spy thriller from director Matthew Vaughn with Henry Cavill, Bryce Dallas Howard, Samuel L Jackson, Bryan Cranston and Sam Rockwell and then finally he’s attached to The Janson Directive in the lead role as a Navy SEAL and prisoner of war.

Mack Rawden

Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, the NBA and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.