Big E Talks Mental Health; John Cena's Wrestling Future; Paul Wight on WWE-AEW Styles

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 17, 2021

Photo Credit: WWE.com

Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe.

Big E Discusses Overcoming Mental Health Struggles

Big E produced one of the most memorable moments in recent wrestling history Monday night when he cashed in his Money in the Bank contract to capture the WWE Championship with a win over Bobby Lashley.

The longtime member of The New Day has deserved a serious singles push for a while and the fact it has finally arrived led to a massive pop from the WWE Universe on Raw.

Yet, the 35-year-old Florida native explained on WWE's The Jump (via Brie Coder of Wrestling Inc.) it wasn't an easy road to the top of the card amid a long-term battle with depression:

"I can't say enough. I'm so incredibly humbled and appreciative. On our podcast, we had an episode about mental health. That was important for us to have that conversation, especially after the passing of [former WCW and TNA wrestler] Daffney. You know, I talked too about the fact that I'm someone who struggled with my mental health and with depression for a long time. And not seeing much value in myself to go from thinking about the juxtaposition of being 20 years old and really struggling and trying to find my way in the world, to now, where people around the world know who I am [and] find value in my work, and find joy in my work. It's a blessing. I'm grateful to have found purpose and passion."

Big E earned a lot of fan support during his journey through the WWE ranks, including stops in FCW and NXT, before making his debut on the main roster and eventually linking up with Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods to create one of the most successful tag-team groups in history.

Now he's one of the company's top champions and it wouldn't be a surprise if he receives an extended run at the main-event level heading toward next year's Royal Rumble, and potentially even beyond.

John Cena Says He Won't Wrestle Outside WWE

Cena recently returned to WWE for a brief run leading up to a SummerSlam match for the Universal Championship against Roman Reigns, which he lost.

The 13-time WWE champion, who now spends most of his time working as an actor, hinted toward another return to the squared circle in a goodbye message:

John Cena @JohnCena

Words cannot describe how appreciative I am that the <a href="https://twitter.com/WWEUniverse?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WWEUniverse</a> allowed me the opportunity to return and perform. Thank you staff, superstars, and most of all FANS for giving me an unforgettable summer at “home” with my “family”. The journey takes me away now but I’ll C U soon.

While it's always been assumed Cena will only wrestle in WWE, the recent trend of high-profile wrestlers departing the company and landing in AEW raised the intriguing possibly of the longtime face of WWE ending up in the rival promotion.

The 44-year-old Massachusetts shot down that idea during a Q&A session at the Florida SuperCon convention, per Brandon Ewing of E-Wrestling News.

"There's a whole like 'never say never' philosophy and I'm also that way in life because you never know what life will bring you. But, I can with certainty say no," Cena said about the potential of signing with another wrestling company.

It's not a surprise given his loyalty to WWE. Vince McMahon and Co. figure to bring him back for any key events that fit in his schedule in the years ahead.

Paul Wight Lauds AEW For Creative Freedom

Wight, best known as Big Show during his time in WWE, has a unique perspective after two decades in WWE and now serving in both an in-ring and broadcasting role for AEW.

He explained during an interview on the Adam's Apple YouTube channel (via Robert Gunier of Wrestling Inc.) he doesn't hold any ill will toward WWE and thinks "both products are amazing" despite their differences.

Wight noted the one thing working to AEW's advantage is the willingness to let performers have a little more creative freedom to build their gimmick:

"If you have a promo, you have a promo, and if you have a match, you have a match. There's not as much upper-level handling on what they want during the match and what they're trying to present for the extra property they own. Even for me, I'm doing Paul Wight but I've never had as much freedom as I do now in AEW doing this. Before, when I was in WWE as Big Show, it was a committee to get anything done."

That's even more important now that AEW has become a destination for wrestlers seeking more of that individuality they became accustomed to on the independent scene, whether it's CM Punk, Bryan Danielson or Adam Cole.

AEW has attracted a lot of attention with its marquee signings and now comes the tough part: retaining that viewership for the long haul. Letting wrestlers push boundaries and use their own vision in terms of character development should be helpful, especially in keeping the diehard wrestling fans.