NEW ORLEANS — For WWE performers, being part of the WrestleMania card is truly a pinnacle of their careers. Indeed, the company has coined the term “WrestleMania moment” to define a memorable event taking place on the big night that will go down in history as a defining moment in the Superstar or Diva’s career. SLAM! Wrestling sat down with Rey Mysterio, Divas Champion AJ Lee and John Cena to talk about their WrestleMania moments.
Asked to define his, Mysterio points to his World Heavyweight Championship title win at WrestleMania 22.
“I think that one broke barriers,” he explained. “(After that), the smaller weight division was accepted into the heavyweight championship title reign (terrain). After I became World Heavyweight Champion, any WWE Superstar that was the equivalent to my height and weight was probably thinking, ‘If Rey can do it, why can’t I?'”
The parallels of his moment to Daniel Bryan’s, who, as a smaller member of the roster, has a chance to compete for the title this year, are not lost on Mysterio. So he naturally feels a special kinship to Bryan in that regard. Asked whether he thinks Bryan can pull it off, Mysterio was straight to the point. “Oh, yeah.”
In terms of future potential moments, Mysterio realizes that the potential for those at this stage of his career are dwindling. On Sunday, he’ll be part of the Andre the Giant Battle Royal. But after that, it appears he’ll be taking on a less than full-time schedule.
“My plan is to be back, but definitely not full-time,” he confirmed. “I don’t think my body can hold up to go back to performing four nights in a row. But if I can maintain myself, be on Raw, be on Smackdown, and maybe do pay-per-views, and every now and then live events, I think I can hold up for another three to five years. After that, I would stay in the business only if my son or my daughter would love to be a part of it. Otherwise, when my time comes, it will be me hanging up the towel and living off of my memories.”
AJ Lee, on the other hand, is hoping to have the first of many WrestleMania moments this weekend. Though she has appeared on the card for the past couple of years, this year’s will be the first time she actually will be in a match.
“Oh my gosh,” she fretted over the thought. “(Actually, I’ve been trying to not let it) sink in that much, that I get to go from being on the sidelines to walking in as champ against everyone on our roster. That’s kind of a huge switch and very heavy, and if I think about it too much I’m going to hyperventilate. But I’m very proud to represent our Divas going into it. I think everyone’s going to have a great time.”
Helping inspire her is the thought of Lita being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame the night before her match.
“In the past two years, it’s been Trish Stratus and Lita that have been inducted. That’s different (from the other women that have been inducted), because those are the girls that the current roster watched, they’re very relevant to us. It makes it seem attainable. That fix, six, seven years ago, they were where we are today. I hope to be that person some day.”
A definite future Hall of Famer, who has had a number of WrestleMania moments already in his career, is John Cena. But that doesn’t mean he’s not hoping to have another one this year when he squares off against Bray Wyatt.
“Every time I’m out there,” he stressed, “I do the best I can. I don’t think anyone is going to say that they didn’t see the best of John Cena on Sunday night, win, lose, or draw. I will truly do my best to give my best.”
Even though Cena does that every night, however, there are still fans that don’t see, to appreciate his efforts, booing him at every turn, despite him being a heroic character. But Cena doesn’t let that detract him, since he knows that his fans — primarily the younger members of the WWE Universe — appreciate his efforts, and those are the ones to whom he wants to be true.
“Nowadays,” he observed, “people always seem to want to be uber-cool, to be really on the cutting edge of everything. And a lot of times, that doesn’t make the greatest impression on our younger fans — and we have a lot of kids and a lot of families in our audience. I feel I can inspire those kids and those fans best by being me.”
“I got to where I am by working my butt off, and by being loyal to those who support me. In the SuperDome, you’ll see that half of the fans — well, I hope half the fans — will like me, and half of them will hate me. It’s because I have a value system, and I’m not trying to be the most edgy cool guy. I’m trying to help the kids out there. Because he may be going through a tough time, and it may be as simple as him looking down at a wristband and saying, ‘My guy John Cena says never give up. I’m going to get through this.’ That, to me, is worth the boos, it’s worth all the criticism, that’s worth everything.”
In terms of whether his fans can expect a WrestleMania moment from him this year, Cena predicts that the show itself will be a major moment, not only for the individual performers, but for the company as a whole.
“I think people will look back in 10, 15 years, and realize that this one was as historic as WrestleMania I,” he predicted. “You have a flux of new, promising Superstars that will be making their WrestleMania debut. It’s also the first one that will be broadcast live on the WWE Network — that in itself will make history. Fifteen years from now, when you’re watching me on (your mobile device) and interviewing me at the same time, you’ll say, ‘Remember that day in New Orleans when we just made history?’ Sunday will be a big day — not just for us, but also a big day for everyone in the WWE Universe.”
Bob Kapur didn’t exactly tower over Rey Mysterio, but it was one of the rare times he was in the same area code as a WWE wrestler as far as height goes. Growth tips welcome at [email protected].