It's difficult to imagine where the WWE would have gone over these last 15 years without John Cena, a 16-time World Champion who was the face of professional wrestling for over a decade.
Cena started out his career as a lower/mid-card talent before finally getting his big chance. 14 years ago, Cena morphed into a main event superstar when he defeated John Bradshaw Layfield at WrestleMania 21 to become the new WWE Champion - and he hasn't looked back.
Again, where would the WWE be today without Cena? Well, the future Hall of Famer revealed a surprising secret in a recent interview with Uproxx: He was almost fired by the WWE before emerging as a main event star.
"I was about to be fired. I was in a Becky Lynch-type scenario where I was forgotten and I was about to be let go and I took a chance on myself. I took a chance on redefining my character and it worked and I’ve never stopped...the audience began to make noise. And I connected with the audience and the rest is history.
And that’s what’s wonderful about WWE. It truly is an enterprise system for any performer to connect with the audience. And once they connect with the audience, it doesn’t matter if they’re male or female...
You become a centerpiece of our entertainment and I think that’s the most fascinating thing about what we do. It truly is go out there and connect and then see what happens."
Indeed, Lynch finds herself in the same situation as Cena. Despite plenty of popularity among WWE fans, The Irish Lass Kicker didn't receive much attention in the spotlight for two years. WWE brought up NXT talents like Alexa Bliss, Nia Jax, Sasha Banks and Bayley, and Lynch became a bit of an afterthought in the women's division.
But ever since Lynch pulled off a heel turn at SummerSlam - where she attacked Charlotte Flair - "The Man" has become the biggest thing in WWE. Fans began giving Lynch the ultra babyface treatment, and there simply isn't a superstar with a bigger following and fan base right now.
Both Cena and Lynch had to work their ways up the ladder. There was little room in the spotlight, few championship matches and only a handful of feuds with the top superstars. Now, Cena is on his way to the WWE Hall of Fame, and he'll be remembered as the face of the Ruthless Aggression Era. For Lynch, she only remains the best thing in the WWE right now, and there are no signs of it changing.
What This Means
Cena has spread a great deal of inspirational messages throughout his wrestling career, but this might be the finest of them all. From being underused and nearly fired to the top of the wrestling world for a decade? You may never hear such a story like that in the wrestling industry again.