As weird as it may seem, we might be living through the sunset of the careers of both Kurt Angle and John Cena. Angle is about to go into the WWE Hall of Fame and be mostly a non-wrestler going forward, while Cena is spending more and more time in ventures outside WWE, and doesn’t really have anything else to do or accomplish once he gets his 17th world title reign.
The two wrestlers’ careers will always be linked, in part because Cena’s WWE main roster debut was answering an Angle open challenge and VERY SUBTLY kicking off the Ruthless Aggression era.
Angle was recently the subject of a Reddit AMA over on r/SquaredCircle, and he said that he actually made a point of putting Cena through his paces and testing him out a bit in that match. In his estimation, Cena passed the test.
“I really liked John. I talked to him and I had heard from some promoters out west that he had everything that it took to be a top tier guy. He had the look, he could wrestle. He was a little robotic in the beginning. You know, he didn’t have the magic touch. He wasn’t one of those guys where everything looked solid. His punches were a little weak at the beginning and I’m not sure if they even got better. I watch Cena now and he has had consistently some of the best matches in the last seven or eight years. He has seriously outgrown some of the, I guess, the theory that he can’t work. He can work. He can wrestle.
“But, at the beginning, I was told that this guy had it all. When I wrestled him, did I think he was going to be as big as he was? No. But I also didn’t know that he had such an incredible business mind. Literally, three months in from when he started, he was meeting with Vince McMahon on different merchandise ideas. He came up with that belt, the spinning belt. He just had, he was prepared. I have never seen anybody who came to the company be more prepared than John Cena. He was set from a wrestling standpoint, from a character standpoint, from a business standpoint, and when he started doing the rapper thing, he just took off. And rightfully so. He was one of the most prepared individuals I had ever seen.
“About the match, I just wanted to teach John a lesson. I literally tried to get him tired in that match. If you ever watch it, it’s twelve minutes of non-stop movement. I made him hustle. I made him earn the respect that he deserves, and he knows it. But he didn’t get tired! He’s one of the few guys that kept up with me in that ring. I tested him and he passed with flying colors! (laughs)”
And that little boy whom nobody liked … grew up to be John Cena.