WWE Chairman Vince McMahon (75) is still in control of nearly every aspect of the company. For this reason, his first impression of a superstar could make or break their career.
McMahon is usually detail-oriented when meeting someone for the first time. He gives a lot of importance to physical appearance. For example, he hired legendary WWE commentator Michael Cole because he liked his height. Cole recalled how McMahon's first impression of him changed his life:
"Mr. McMahon loves that (being short) because it makes the wrestlers look even bigger!’ That’s the first time ever being a little guy is a win. I went home, they called a few weeks later, said ‘hey you got the job,’” Cole said on The Boomer in the Morning podcast
Just as the Chairman gave Michael Cole a job, he was about to take away another from a young John Cena. WWE history could have changed because Cena's appearance when he first joined WWE did not impress his boss.
Between those who earned the Chairman's acceptance and others who could not impress the boss, let's check out Vince McMahon's first impression of five WWE Superstars.
#5. WWE Legend John Cena
John Cena's confrontation with Kurt Angle on his SmackDown debut remains a memorable moment in WWE history almost 20 years later. Despite being much less experienced than the American Gold Medalist, Cena showcased his ruthless aggression well.
Every WWE fan had his first impression of the new kid on the block back then. Chances are none of those impressions were as shocking as Vince McMahon's.
The Chairman laid his eyes on Cena for the first time as he walked by backstage. Cena was standing with Bruce Prichard when McMahon saw him and called him "a walking, talking steroid billboard":
“We were in Los Angeles at Staples Arena and I will never forget it. Cena comes back, signs his contract, his tests come back, he’s clean as a whistle, and Vince walks up to me and says ‘get that walking, talking steroid billboard out of our backstage!’ I’m like ‘who?’ — ‘That guy!’ and he’s pointing out Cena. I’m like: ‘Vince, we just signed him.'” Prichard said on his podcast "Something To Wrestle".
Cena's first gimmick did not click well with fans. The turning point of Cena's career was adopting The Doctor of Thuganomics persona. From there, Cena eventually became the face of WWE for many years.
"Vince McMahon to me is more than anyone could realize. He's a close friend, a mentor, a father figure. He means a tremendous amount to me. I don't know if I'll ever be able to conceptualize how much I love him and how much he means to me," Cena said to Bleacher Report.
The last time John Cena wrestled in WWE was at WrestleMania 36 where he lost to The Fiend Bray Wyatt in a Firefly Fun House match.