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John Cena comments on why WWE has been releasing so much talent

John Cena continued his media tour on The Rich Eisen Show to promote Peacemaker on HBO Max. Cena was asked about “weird stuff” and “weird releases” going on in WWE lately.

Cena said, “There’s a lot to unpack. When I started at WWE, the WWE had just absorbed WCW and ECW and also had two developmental territories and the rosters were abundant, is probably a good word. When I started in the WWE there were releases twice a year and it created stakes for developmental talent and it created stakes for talent to try to make a name for themselves. We just knew that on a calendar year shortly after WrestleMania and either before or after the holidays there would be cuts. That seemed to stop right around when we began to redefine ourselves [with] our Ruthless Aggression style of characters. Me, Brock, Randy, Dave.”

Cena continued, “When those guys began to anchor in and develop a program going forward into the next decade and more and we started to expand our reach, we started to have more programming, the talent roster started to get big.”

Cena said that these are his thoughts and he’s not thinking for WWE. He added, “I think a lot of it might have been a little slightly defensive hiring becuase there was and still is a giant boom right now in sports entertainment. People are absorbing this content, they are engaging. People are making a name for themselves outside of the WWE. It’s no longer a one-stop shop. I think with its flux of passionate people who love sports entertainment, people do get a name for themselves outside of WWE and if the WWE feels that maybe they can be a fit in that world, they’re gonna try to give that person a shot.”

“They’re also really bullish on continuing to hire new talent. The WWE Performance Center… they’re at max capacity so you have all of these performers and a lot of them aren’t getting a chance to perform. I think that’s the real frustrating thing both to the WWE and the performer. Unfortunately at the end of the day, it is a business. I remember when I started in the WWE, I want to use the word fortunate. I was fortunate enough to be at the show at Atlanta where Stone Cold Steve Austin was fired (Note from Austin walked out and he was not fired). That moment right there it shot through me like a cannon because I got the impression that if they could fire Stone Cold Steve Austin, unless your name was Vince McMahon, everyone was replaceable.

“I think a lot of the frustration from the audience out there, they view sports entertainment like I do. I love watching matches, I love seeing potential in human beings. I love seeing potential in performers and I see potential in everybody especially when people begin to define what they would call a gimmick or a personality. I love to be able to try to run with them on conversations to see how far we can take it. But there is only so many spots, there is only so much programming. I understand from a business standpoint the amount of releases that have had to happen. If the company justifies that hey this is the move we’re making, we wanna carry less talent, it has very little to do with profit loss margin. If the company strategy is to run on a lean roster, it doesn’t matter, you run on a lean roster. If the company strategy is to run on a fat roster, I remember when we had stacks of performers and the stock price was 7 bucks. It’s just the directive that the company was given to run on a talent heavy roster or a talent lean roster.”

“Obviously, it’s a touchy subject and it’s gonna elicit perspective from everyone and everyone certainly is entitled to their perspective. I think the sad thing is people who have this gift aren’t being allowed to use it and people are out of a job. That is the absolute saddest thing that people can no longer work at a company that they called home for a period of time. I feel for everybody who’s had to go in that direction. All of us, myself included, our journey will eventually have an end. When you’re in it, sometimes you don’t have that perspective. I personally from my early days in WWE always had the perspective that it could be over tomorrow for any and all of us because if they can fire Steve Austin, there’s no way I’m even close to his ability, and that means they can fire me. But that’s just the culture I was brought up in. I was brought up in bi-annual cuts and it happened all the time and I just think WWE went through such a long period of not releasing anybody and now they’re kind of getting back to the rhythm again that it is a very abrupt shift to somebody who is not familiar with that. My heart goes out to everybody who has to get that sad news because that’s a tough conversation to have.”

If you use any portion of the quotes from this article please credit The Rich Eisen Show with a h/t to for the transcription

You can listen to Cena’s talk about the WWE releases in the video below:

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