John Cena was a major figure backstage during his stay as the number one star of WWE in the 2000s and had a say in the booking of the company overall.
Arn Anderson talked about Cena’s influence during the Arn Show recently and revealed a conversation he had with the 16-time World Champion on bringing in TNA stars.
Anderson pitched the idea of Cena fighting established stars like AJ Styles and Bobby Roode, but Cena turned it down. He felt that WWE should be making their own stars, instead of poaching them from a rival promotion.
“I sat John (Cena) down. I don’t remember the year, but I could feel that things were getting a little stale. WWE needed an influx of not just bodies and people coming from NXT, no knock on that, but seasoned veterans. People that were considered stars.”
“I sat John down and said, ‘You know John, there’s some guys with the other company and that we can steal and blend in to work with you.’ My conversation was that it was Bobby Roode, Cowboy (James Storm), and AJ Styles. I said, ‘These guys can go. I’m talking about talk shelf performers and they will freshen everything up.’”
“He looked me right in the eye and at this time John had 100% stroke, power, it was his call on everything that had to do with him. He said, ‘Why would we want those guys? We make our own stars.’”
“So yes, he was on my radar. AJ Styles was one of those rare talents that only come along every 20 years or so that can do it all. I knew that then. I know that now. It will be the same thing that, barring injury, a year from now. So yes, definitely on my radar. I was pushing for the three of those guys.”
WWE eventually ended up signing Roode and Styles much later. Both the stars joined in 2016, and John Cena had assumed a part-timer role by then.
Cena even wrestled Styles on multiple occasions, with Styles boasting of a clean win over the biggest star of recent times.