As "Monday Night Raw" fans know, this Sunday is the biggest wrestling pay-per-view event of the year, WrestleMania XXVIII. In the first of a five-part Q&A with WWE superstars, John Cena talks about what the event means to him.
Q: My 11-year-old daughter, Hannah, is a huge fan of yours. Whenever I go to a WWE live event, there are kids wearing John Cena T-shirts everywhere. Why do you think you are so popular with kids?
A: I bring a lot of energy and passion to what I do. Plus, I've had some weird feats of superhuman strength! Seriously, I grew up a fan of Hulk Hogan, and I think I bring some of his best values to the ring ... the values of a superhero. Always do your best. Never give up. ... I think kids want to believe in that, and they should believe in that.
Q: You have been subtly pushing for a match with The Rock for years now, and it's finally here. Did you ever think it would happen?
A: People keep saying it has been a one-year build for WrestleMania, but I started calling out Rock in 2005 or 2006. ... I thought it was important to get The Rock involved with the company again. That his involvement could lift us to another level and would remind him of where he came from.
Q: What is your favorite WrestleMania moment?
A: Hulk Hogan slamming Andre the Giant. I remember watching WrestleMania with my family and friends on TV ... 93,000 people in the Silverdome. When Hogan picked up Andre, I got goosebumps.
Q: If you could transport any wrestler from history, in the prime of his career, to face you at next year’s WrestleMania, who would it be and why?
A: Well, it would be hard to top Dwayne this year, but I'd have to say Stone Cold Steve Austin. ... He is one of those guys who had a superhuman level of popularity, and I think we would match up well.
Q: When you get inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame one day, who is the first person you thank?
A: The idiots who voted for me! No, I'd have to thank Vince McMahon. Vince gave me the platform to do the things I'm doing. He gets so caught up in running a company every day that I think Vince forgets sometimes that he makes dreams come true. He gave me my dream life.
Q: Twenty years from now, when people are looking back on your career, what do you hope they say?
A: That they had a good time when watching me. ... Whether they cheered me or booed me, liked me or didn't like me, that they had a good time whenever they saw me.
If you want to know a little more about Cena and his match with The Rock at WrestleMania, be sure to watch an excellent preview building up the match, "Once in a Lifetime: The Rock vs. Cena," airing Monday at 8 p.m. on USA Network. A clip from the show is below:
-- Houston Mitchell
Photo: John Cena, left, confronts The Rock on an episode of "Monday Night Raw." Credit: WWE