John Cena Says He Remains Vince McMahon’s Friend Despite Sexual Assault Suit: ‘I’m Going to Love the Person I Love’ | Audio

In his own comments, fellow WWE wrestler Randy Orton says “it f–king hurts my heart” what he’s read about his former boss

Two men in suits in a split of two photographs
John Cena and Vince McMahon (Photos by Getty Images)

Actor and onetime WWE wrestling star John Cena appeared on “The Howard Stern Show” this week ahead of the release of his Amazon Prime Video film “Ricky Stanicky” being released next month — and following WWE chairman Vince McMahon being sued last month for the sexual assault and trafficking of a former WWE employee, among numerous other allegations. Cena said that, despite those allegations, “I’ve openly said I love the guy, I’ve got a relationship with the guy, so that’s that.”

In a separate interview released Wednesday, WWE wrestler Randy Orton shared his own feelings on the McMahon news and the suit against him from Janel Grant. “F–k, I’m reading this sh-t. What you’ve seen and read, I’ve seen and read,” Orton told Sports Illustrated. “As far as commenting on that, it f–king hurts my heart.”

While Cena largely spoke in generalities, Howard Stern broached the topic of McMahon with him by talking about how he’s personally dealt with friends who have faced accusations.

“I have a couple of friends who have gotten into — ‘hot water,’ let’s call it,” Stern said. “And it’s so God damn confusing, because you love the guy. And at the same time, also, you don’t love what he’s being accused of, obviously. What do you do? How do you handle those situations? I mean, I don’t know how to handle them.”

Cena asked Stern what he’s done in the past.

“There are some people I no longer want to associate with,” Stern said. “And it’s almost not fair, because it’s not like they’ve been on trial. But there’s been accusations that are disturbing. So I go, ‘Can I be personal friends with this person?’ And some people, I can, because there are lines in my mind where things are drawn.

“But some people I can’t, because it’s too big a mountain to climb,” Stern continued. “In other words, ‘If any of this is true, I can’t know you. You know, I loved you, I love what you did for me, I love our friendship, but now that I know this about you, there’s no turning back. I have to do what I morally think is right. And unfortunately, it’s not to associate.’

Turning back to McMahon, Stern concluded, “But this is a guy who’s been so good to you, and so great in your career, I imagine it’s a mindf–k. And then when you get asked about, it’s like, it’s too complicated to even talk about.”

But Cena didn’t quite agree with that characterization by Stern. “I don’t think it’s complicated to talk about. I think it’s complicated to listen to,” Cena said. “And that’s kind of why I don’t necessarily put a lot of time and equity into it. Again, I think there’s still a long ways to go. I can say this: I am a big advocate of love, and friendship, and honesty, and communication. But in the same breath, I’m also a big advocate of accountability.”

“I think you explained it well,” Cena continued, “of if someone’s behavior lies so far outside your value system, that the balance shifts of like, ‘Man, I can’t operate in a world where this works’ — that’s the end result of being accountable.”

Despite being a self-described fan of accountability, he did not express sympathy for the woman who filed the suit or other women who McMahon has been revealed to have previously made payments of millions of dollars to. McMahon’s previous payments to women were brought to light in 2022 and involved an investigation by WWE’s board.

“So, right now, what I’m going to do is love the person I love, be their friend, and by that it means, ‘I love you. You’ve got a hill to climb,’” Cena told Stern. “And there’s the saying of, ‘you don’t know who your friends are until the s–t hits the fan,’ or ‘your back’s against the wall.’ That doesn’t make any of what’s going on any easier to swallow.

“But just telling somebody that ‘Hey, I love you — man, this is going to be a hill to climb — we’re going to see what happens,’” Cena said. “And that’s that. It sounds so cliche, but it has to be one day at a time. But at the same token, I’ve openly said I love the guy, I’ve got a relationship with the guy, so that’s that.”

Stern returned to discussing his own approach. “I say, I’m going to pick up the phone and call the guy. I don’t want to sit there and hide — I don’t want to be the kind of friend who then says, ‘Well I’m never going to address this again.’”

Cena added to what he’d said before, continuing, “My construct of trying to operate with honesty and communication, I think those are strong leads to handling any problem or any achievement. But the whole thing is super, super unfortunate. That’s really the thing that sucks. Because not only does it deal with an individual I love, it deals with an entity that I love, and is one that I speak highly of.”

The wrestler-turned-actor went on to speak about what the situation has made him feel about WWE as a company.

“And I want everyone to have the experience I had,” Cena said. “If you’re an employee at Disneyland, you want everybody to go to Disney and think it’s the greatest place on Earth. And when someone doesn’t, and when you find out that there may or may not have been things going on there — that this place I was speaking so great about, well, in some aspects, needed a lot of work.”

He went on to state that he wanted to both support McMahon and the WWE itself.

“That’s more than just, ‘How do I feel about this person?’” Cena said. “Now I shift to, ‘OK, am I doing all I can to make it better from the advice of, work as hard as you can, promote as hard as you can, is there anything I can do?’ So not only do I tell my friend I love them, I also switch to the entity and say, how can I help?”

You can listen to the entire segment in audio shared by journalist Brandon Thurston.

Orton shared his own thoughts on McMahon with Sports Illustrated as part of an interview promoting an A&E “Biography” special on him and his career.

“I’ve got to say this — I wouldn’t be where I am without Vince McMahon taking a chance on me a handful of times,” Orton told the outlet. “I would not be where I am today without Vince McMahon. But, f–k, I’m reading this sh-t. What you’ve seen and read, I’ve seen and read. As far as commenting on that, it f–king hurts my heart. It hurts my heart.”

Still, Orton praised current WWE President Nick Khan and Chief Content Creator Paul “Triple H” Levesque, stating that they are cultivating a safer culture at the wrestling institution.

“So much happened while I was out,” Orton said. “When I left, the old guard was still doing its thing. Vince was still around.”

He noted McMahon’s infamous behavior of constantly changing WWE show scripts. “TV’s were getting rewritten over and over again. The writers were being held up until all hours in the morning,” Orton said. “And all that changed.”

You can read the full interview with Orton at this link. The A&E bio of his life airs this Sunday.

Cena’s full interview with Stern is available from SiriusXM, but you can read several excerpts at this link, though video has not been made available of the portion of the interview discussing McMahon. Cena’s “Ricky Stanicky” comes out March 7 on Amazon’s Prime Video.

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