Come for the WWE Superstar, stay for the competition — that’s John Cena‘s message for fans who tune in to “American Grit” tonight.
“My goal is, people watch this and instantaneously forget about me,” the face of professional wrestling told TheWrap during a recent telephone interview.
Cena was drawn to the Fox reality show for two reasons: 1) The participation of high-ranking military members as coaches, “or cadres,” on the show; and 2) The fact that the biggest, strongest, fastest competitor will not necessarily win.
Oh, and it just so happens that the shooting took place while Cena was on a three-month hiatus due to shoulder surgery. Bonus.
That second of our aforementioned serious attractions is a lesson that plays out fairly early in the season, and an important message for competitors and viewers at home, Cena said.
“In ‘American Grit,’ you will go as far as you allow yourself to go,” he told TheWrap. “It is not gonna be one of those typical competition shows where you can manipulate folks. It is like basic training, you need to function as a team, you need to function as a unit, and the strongest unit will make it through this thing.”
Of course, being strong doesn’t hurt — so, between his body and will to win, Cena would walk away with this thing himself, yes?
“I like to think I’d fare well,” he said, touting more of the mental advantage he may possess: “I literally just don’t give up.”
On Episode 2, the reality of the reality show really sets in, as one of the contestants passes out during the final challenge — the grueling “circus.” (By the way, that moment is in the teaser, so we don’t want to hear about “spoilers.”)
Discussing the scary moment, Cena swore the show — which boasts team-based physical and mental challenges before one member from each losing team takes on the daunting gauntlet — is no more dangerous than other televised competitions or even sporting events.
Plus, the show seems prepared medically to handle the darkest moments. And also, their similarities to actual advanced military training — or even things the four leaders have seen on the battlefield — is what drew those serious cadres in the first place.
“I think when you involve such decorated members of the military — they won’t be involved unless there’s authenticity to it,” Cena said.
In some ways, Cena’s rehab experience while shooting wasn’t entirely different than the tone of the series. (He was expected to miss nine months due to injury, but the near-superhero was back in 90 days to drop a few dudes at “Wrestlemania 32” alongside old rival Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.)
“Therapy is trench warfare, and you take it one day at a time,” the host, who assures us he now feels “great.”
So, slowly but surely, Cena is coming back to the WWE ring — but he’s also totally down for more “American Grit,” should it get renewed. Cena doesn’t seem to have any hesitation about the show’s future.
“I think the mission statement of the show is phenomenal, I think the message is incredible, and I can’t wait to do a second season,” he concluded.
“American Grit” debuts tonight at 9/8c on Fox.