Veteran WWE Superstar John Cena appeared on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon on Thursday. Cena is in New York City for tonight’s WWE Super SmackDown on FOX episode, where he is advertised to team with The Street Profits against WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns and SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos, likely in the dark main event for the local crowd at Madison Square Garden. Cena joked about finishing in second place for his WWE SummerSlam match against Reigns, and was asked how the return came about.
“I had a month off and they [WWE] were like, ‘Hey, you wanna come to work?’ And I was like, ‘Do I?!’ And they said live audiences were back, and I love live audiences,” Cena said.
Fallon asked Cena how it felt to put his jorts back on and get in the ring. “There is no better feeling than being in front of a live audience,” Cena said. “there really isn’t, and I’m so grateful to have all of you here, I’m so grateful to be back with a live audience. There is no other energy like performing, or entertaining, or telling stories, or just shooting the shit in front of a live audience. So, thank you very much.”
Cena recalled the first time he wrestled in front of a live audience, noting that it was at a gym called LA Boxing in Orange County, California, with just seven people in the crowd. “And I was not good, so nothing’s really changed,” Cena joked.
Fallon asked if Cena felt nervous his first time out. “Oh man, I’m nervous behind the curtain, like I’m always nervous,” Cena said. “I think if you lose those nerves, if you lose that anticipatory excitement, like, ‘Oh, I don’t know how this is going to go…’ Like, you’ve got to move on, I think you’re done at that point. I think you should always have that energy.”
Fallon then revealed a photo of Cena as The Prototype, the gimmick he created in 1999 while training with Rick Bassman’s UPW (Ultimate Pro Wrestling) promotion in California. Cena would carry the gimmick into OVW when it was a WWE developmental territory. Fallon asked Cena to explain “The Prototype” name.
“So I was 50% man, 50% machine, and 100% awful. It was bad. It was bad, it was bad,” Cena declared.
Fallon then played the infamous “genetic lunchbox” promo Cena cut as The Prototype, while filming a UPW documentary for the Discovery Channel. You can see the promo at the end of this article. Fallon asked Cena what he remembers from the promo.
“That… so, that was done… there was a documentary crew following us around, and we usually have… and that was in Southern California, but when you learn your craft, part of that is impromptu promo class where they just put a bunch of people in a room and the job is to try to catch you off guard,” Cena recalled. “And everybody was kind of stumbling, and they just asked me to get up there and say something, so I came up with that on the spot and threw it out there, and they actually put it on TV, so that ‘genetic lunchbox’ monologue kind of kicked the whole thing off for me. So, I wouldn’t be anywhere if it wasn’t for a ‘peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the crust cut off.’ Weird story.”
Cena also discussed his new “Vacation Friends” movie, Tom Brady, and more. Cena also played a game of Facebreakers with Fallon, where they took turns throwing footballs at glass panels painted with their faces, with the first to smash his opponent being declared the winner.
You can see clips of both segments below, along with Cena’s promo as The Prototype, and footage from the UPW documentary: