John Cena on Nickelodeon Conquest Plans, From ‘TMNT’ Villain to Hosting ‘Kids’ Choice Awards’

“When you really enjoy the things you do, you find the time for them,” Cena tells TheWrap as he transforms into Baron Draxum on “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”

Last Updated: January 11, 2018 @ 9:08 AM

You can see John Cena all over Nickelodeon this year.

The WWE Superstar has been named the voice of a new villain on the network’s animated series, “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” will host the 2018 “Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards” for a second time, and the host of Nick’s new competition series “Keep It Spotless.”

Phew! And somehow he still finds time to dominate the WWE squared circle and star in Hollywood movies like “Fernando” and “The Blocker.”

“Busy is good,” Cena (whose WWE catchphrase is “you can’t see me,” in case you didn’t get the joke above),  told TheWrap while promoting all of his Nickelodeon endeavors.

“These are all things that I love and when you really enjoy the things you do, you find the time for them,” he explained. “It comes down to juggling a lot of things — sometimes doing it by the minute — and knowing you can’t be everywhere at once.”

But even one of the hardest working stars in entertainment — lagging only behind fellow WWE star-turned-action hero Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson — has to make some sacrifices. “I love my WWE family and the time in the ring but a lot of these projects are taking away from the full-time commitment of the WWE schedule,” Cena said. “So I’ve had to have a long talk with myself and say, ‘hey, you’re not exactly going to be out there 360 days a year if you want to do all this new stuff.’

“That was a difficult conversation with myself to have but so many good things have come out of it and I am still able to go back and have a bunch of fun there as well. It is just a matter of trying to adapt to the new surroundings,” he added.

Find out what it’s like to be the latest “TMNT” nemesis, why Cena likes being slimed, and what the hell “Keep It Spotless” is all about in the Q&A below.

TheWrap: What was the best thing about voicing a villain on such a cult product as “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”? 
John Cena: I’ve kind of fell in love with voicing characters — as it really is so magical when you see the work of the animator and your voice come together. This is especially fun as I get to be a bad guy, which is not normal for me, so I was really drawn to being a villain, especially with the iconic “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” brand and Nickelodeon.

TheWrap: Is Baron Draxum totally new to the “TMNT” world?
Cena: 
It is a new character — the universe is kind of being redesigned and I think the audience is going to love it. It will be a new version of the main villain of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

TheWrap: How involved were you in his evolution? 
Cena: I was shown artwork very early on (which was awesome), then began to talk details with the writing team and came up with little nuances to help get the best look that we could for the Baron. I am really happy with the end product.

TheWrap: Draxum is described as an “alchemist warrior mutant who seeks to turn all of humanity into mutants” — can give us any other teasers to explain that?
Cena: 
He is certainly a mutant and all of the villains have a shred of truth to them. He believes what he is doing is for the sake of good, but ends up doing bad as his views are skewed a little bit. I love the fact that he is overly logical and the Turtles are very whimsical, so the interactions with him and them is really funny.

TheWrap: Everyone has a favorite TMNT — who is yours?
Cena:
I am a Michelangelo fan, he likes to eat carbs [pizza] and can get away with it!

TheWrap: We saw you get smothered slime hosting the “Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards” last year — what made you want to do it again?
Cena: The show is amazing, and the audience is amazing and the show is built for the audience. It is unlike any other awards show, but is very similar to a WWE event, as it’s about the audience having as much fun as they can. As for the sliming, there is nothing bad about it, I have been slimed multiple times.

TheWrap: You pledged to slim now-fiancee Nikki Bella when we spoke last year, how did that go?
Cena:
In the moment of truth, I kind of backed away and aired on the side of caution as I would have had to deal with the wrath afterwards! This year, I honestly just want to slime anyone who doesn’t want to be slimed. The thing that everybody gets worked up about is they don’t want to get messy, but that means they’re in the wrong place… “Kids’ Choice” is all about letting loose, having fun and getting messy. If you check those reservations at the door when you walk in, you’ll have a great time. Anyone who thinks they’re too cool for school needs to be slimed.

TheWrap: And now you’re also hosting competition series, “Keep it Spotless”  — what is that all about?
Cena
: “Keep it Spotless” originates from the “Kids’ Choice Awards,” where contestants compete in a series of physical and paint-filled challenges … if anyone makes it through 100 percent spotless then they are truly gifted. It is set up to be messy and it is meant to be fun, so brings out all those elements.

TheWrap: There seems to be a natural crossover between the Nickelodeon and WWE audiences — does that make it easier to juggle both?
Cena: There is an amazing crossover appeal between WWE with Nickelodeon — and the way Nickelodeon views its brand. Each of their shows has a smile incorporated in it and our mission statement in WWE is to put smiles on people’s faces, so not only is there a giant crossover audience, but also the same ideology.

You can’t be afraid to be able to laugh at yourself, and I am certainly ready, willing and able to do that at a moment’s notice.

TheWrap: And then you have raunchy adult comedies like “The Blocker,” which has a very different audience, does that ever create a conflict?
Cena: 
That is the beauty about being able to create stuff. If you read things and like it, you can do it. I liked ‘The Blocker” a lot when I read it but that is an R-rated comedy, and won’t crossover to the Nickelodeon audience. I am very fortunate to be asked to be able to do a show with Nickelodeon, then you can go do an R-rated comedy, and then do things like read the news on the ‘Today’ show. I am very aware of the perspective of all that and happy I can do all of those things.

“Nickelodeon’s 2018 Kids’ Choice Awards” airs live on March 24, from 8-9:30 p.m. (ET/PT) and Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles premieres in late 2018.