Cena rises above hate in, out of ring
TIM BAINES - Ottawa Sun
|NASCAR driver Joey Logano poses with WWE star John Cena in the garage area prior to the start of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP)
While John Cena and The Rock continue their verbal sparring, maybe getting lost in the storyline was the push for Cena to capture hatred — to turn against his fans, turn against what he stood for.
The agitators obviously weren't reading his shirt — Rise Above Hate.
"In a verbal sense and an athletic sense, this is a reactive business," said Cena. "It's one of those deals, remember, when Steve Austin was flipping everyone off, doing all of those things considered evil things, he became the ultimate cool guy.
"On the flip side of things, although I can handle business when I need to, I really make conscious choices to do the right thing. There's still a giant portion of the audience associated to the Attitude era that I believe thinks I am a bad guy.
"But I'm not a bad guy. I generate so much hatred just because of the way I act. I look at Tim Tebow as a good example. People couldn't stop saying his name. He's such a standup guy. People don't believe it because it's almost too good to be true. And he generates that hatred.
"I have fun with this business. I love every second of it. I love to be right there in the middle of the hunt. At the end of the day, it's not my job to force people in any direction. I just go out there and see what happens. You can analyze character development all day, but with the current state of affairs, there is no need or rationale for me to deviate from what I'm doing."
Make no mistake about it, Cena is a good guy. He's become a Make-A-Wish icon.
"Families are getting one wish," said Cena. "I often try to put myself in those shoes and I can't do it. There are so many things I want to be a part of, but to have a family or child say: 'I would like to meet John Cena or like to attend a WWE event, that's my one wish.' You cannot not be happy about that."
As one of the faces of WWE, Cena has become a poster boy, an image WWE would be reluctant to crush.
"I don't think it's necessarily important for the kids to look up to me," said Cena. "I think it's important for them to look up to someone. In present day and age, sometimes I am that someone. As long as you're the someone, you need to make conscious decisions about who's watching you. I have very good estimation on our audience, especially the ones that follow me. I try to handle myself accordingly."
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Tim Baines is the Sports Editor for the Ottawa Sun and can be emailed at Tim.firstname.lastname@example.org.