Speaking with our own Louis Dangoor, Big E said that Cena has always been someone who has looked out for him behind-the-scenes, with Cena even donating to the 'Our Heros Rock' Kickstarter that Big E launched:
"He’s done a lot over the years to be helpful, to give me advice, or to offer me a place to train, and I appreciate that. He contributes to our Kick Starter for ‘Our Heros Rock’, contributed a lot of money to it, so I always appreciate that he’s someone who has looked out for me."
Big E was really first seen by WWE fans in the build-up to The Rock and John Cena's match at WrestleMania XXVIII, when the 2021 men's Money in the Bank winner was seen training a documentary at Cena's gym.
Big E told us that Cena told him if he hit a personal best in the gym, that he'd make sure the clip made it into the documentary, something that Big E thinks was huge for him at the time:
"During that time I was in FCW, when we shot that video, no one knew who I was. So I put 575lbs on the bar, which was a personal record, and he was like ‘if you hit this, I’ll make sure that it’s in the doc’. It’s not like NXT where people were watching it, in FCW we were in local Florida cable TV, very very tiny audience. It was cool for me to think that millions of people probably are going to watch this doc. It was cool to be a part of the build up to Cena vs. Rock."
Big E also spoke to us about being transformed into a fan when John Cena returned at Money in the Bank earlier this month, revealing that he went back and listened to the pop Cena got from the crowd several times.
Interestingly, Big E said that he isn't envious of the fact that John Cena, who is a part-timer and hasn't wrestled a televised match for WWE since January 2019, is coming in and 'taking his spot':
"I didn’t know that he was coming out. I was like 30 seconds late, I missed the very beginning, so I went back and watched that pop, and I stopped being a wrestler, a performer, a fellow WWE Superstar, and I just became a fan. I just kept watching that over and over again, because that’s one of the loudest and best pops I’ve heard since I’ve been signed here, that’s an all-timer. That’s an incredible pop. It’s cool to see that buzz again. I can compartmentalise enough to not always, I can see someone do well and shine without being envious and like ‘that’s my spot’ or ‘that’s where I should be’. I can take a step back and say ‘man, that’s just a really cool moment".
The former Intercontinental Champion also spoke about his excitement at the prospect of Cena and Roman Reigns going one-on-one at SummerSlam, noting that he is excited to see what the pair can do on in promo battles together:
"I think what makes it cooler too, that it’s not just Cena coming back and standing in the ring to cut a promo and go away, but Roman has been on such a tear right now and he’s had such an incredible run. To see what feels like two titans, like is this going to be a passing of the torch moment, or is this going to be a ‘no kid it’s not your time moment’? I think that’s the interesting part, and I’m just really looking forward to their promo stuff, man. I vividly remember Cena saying ‘hey, the reason I’m still here is because you won’t do your job, you can’t do your job’. The whole thing about ‘hey, you know how to cut a promo?’ Those are fighting words in a very very real way. I’m just intrigued to see them go back-and-forth, I almost wish we had a little more time with their build-up just to see. Those two are going to do something pretty cool I think."
You can watch Friday Night SmackDown, which will feature the fallout from Big E's Money in the Bank win and John Cena's WWE return, every week live in the UK on BT Sport.News Now - Sport News