John Cena recently spoke with The Wrap to promote Nickelodeon's new "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" show. Cena will be hosting the show, which premieres on Monday, June 10.
Regarding a return to regular in-ring competition for WWE any time soon, Cena said it depends on other offers that he's recently received. Cena also said he doesn't believe WWE needs him right now, at least not as much as they used to.
"That literally depends on the immediate future. There's a few opportunities that have been set in front of me," Cena said. "If they work out — and I hope they work out — they'll be wonderful challenges in life and for me to grow as a person, so I'll more than likely take them. It doesn't mean that my heart doesn't lie with WWE. I've often said that if I'm doing something like ['Fifth Grader'] then it's impossible to do something like that."
He continued, "I'm older now. I just turned 42, I watch WWE on a regular basis and the talent is getting faster and more precise. I think I would have left the WWE high and dry, so to speak, [but] now they have so much talent and so many definable Superstars. There was a time when I could genuinely say, from a financial standpoint, they needed me — that time is up."
Cena was asked about Vince McMahon's recent comments made during the WWE Q1 2019 earnings call, where the company blamed lower numbers on Superstar absences. Cena said WWE is developing talents at a faster rate than they were when Cena started, and he believes the future is bright for WWE. Cena added that WWE does not need him, but he needs them and he loves them.
"I only got a chance to be on television because Brock Lesnar left, Steve Austin left, Dwayne Johnson left, Mick Foley got hurt, Triple H got hurt, the Undertaker got hurt," Cena said. "[McMahon's] class of the Attitude Era changed and they had to rely on new people. In doing that, they took a tremendous financial hit up front, but in the longterm it ended up going strong for a decade and a half."
"[WWE is] certainly in a better place now than they were in let's say 2003, and I know Vince will say on a quarterly call that he needs his stars, but he's also aware that he's developing them at a more rapid rate than he did when I started," he said. "So I think the future is tremendously bright for WWE. The WWE does not need me. I need it and I love it, and I love every single moment I'm associated with it. But I felt it the first time this year at WrestleMania: I took a step back and looked at everything and (realized) it is such a powerful machine."
Cena said he still "talks all the time" with Vince, but he also seems very interested in keeping a strong relationship with the WWE fans. Cena said the fans are dedicated and they demand excellence.
"I've made it a promise never to shortchange the WWE consumer," Cena said. "They are dedicated, they demand excellence and if I can't keep up with the speed of the show then I'd coach, I'd go down to the Performance Center often and speak to the students. I live in Tampa, which is close to Orlando. I am not saying 'I'm doing this and leaving you guys behind.' I'm having a talk with the man in the mirror and saying I might be a step slower and I am not sure it is right for me to go on. You always want to walk away at the right time and never want the courtesy clap from the audience."
He continued, "I don't want to go out there and think I can perform like I'm 30, because I can't. It's something I've seen a few instances of and I'm going to try everything in my power not to do that. I am not sick of it, I am just trying to have that realistic conversation that not many people in sports or entertainment — or sports-entertainment — have, they want to hold on to that flame as long as they can. I would much rather leave a lasting impression for what I did then try to milk the system for selfish gain."