John Cena made a top-class debut in WWE by facing Kurt Angle on SmackDown, however he has now revealed that the match only came about because the company had “no other options”.
The debut took place in June 2002 when Kurt Angle was issuing open challenges, and led to Cena’s much fabled “Ruthless Aggression” promo.
Even though the Olympic gold medallist would go on to win the match, it was far closer than anyone would consider against a debuting star and there is also plenty of footage of Cena getting a handshake from The Undertaker after the match.
Cena recently attended a ComicCon in Florida, where he discussed that the first appearance came about by luck rather than judgement, and that wasn’t the only moment in his career it was like that.
It’s surreal and it all happened so fast [match with Kurt Angle and shaking hands with The Undertaker]. It wasn’t even supposed to happen. I was thrown in there last minute because they had no other options.
That’s like the story of my life by the way. I was just — all my opportunities came when either James Gunn was sick or nobody showed up to wrestle or they didn’t have anybody else to bet on. I’ve never been — even for Peacemaker, I know James had Batista in mind for it. That’s okay. I think yet another lesson here is don’t ever be ashamed with how opportunity finds you. Be ready and knock it out of the park.
So it was all surreal, it was all like a blur but I remember I was ready to wrestle Kurt and he brought, technically the best out of me and forced me — he tried to run me ragged but I hung in there with him and yes, they filmed backstage moments of other superstars shaking hands there because it was genuine. Everybody was like, ‘Yo, good job’ because when you see a new guy in the locker room, the jury is still out and it worked. So even Kurt himself came up and thanked me and everybody was great and after that I sucked but for that one moment… but it was all such a [whirlwind]. It was crazy.
With thanks to POST Wrestling for the transcription.