Traditionally, Wrestlemania is the biggest day or days on WWE’s calendar. It isn’t just the wrestlers who make the event so big and spectacular, it is also the celebrities that the company brings in. From the likes of Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Liberace…there is no shortage of celebrity appearances that appear on the grand stage. Some not only appear on the show, they also interact with the wrestlers. Case in point, Lawrence Taylor, Bad Bunny and Floyd Mayweather Jr have all entered the squared circle to actually compete. In 2003, a young up and coming wrestler named John Cena was booked in his very first ‘Mania to appear alongside two of rap’s biggest names…it never happened.
For weeks, leading up to Wrestlemania XIX in Seattle, Washington…WWE heavily advertised a “Rap Battle” would take place. It would feature a ‘rookie’ of sorts in John Cena, making his Wrestlemania debut challenging rappers Fabolous and Jay Z to a war of lyrical words. At the time, Cena was using a rapper gimmick that was slowly gaining popularity with fans. The self proclaimed ‘Doctor of Thuganomics’ started to have a following in WWE. For weeks, Cena would talk down to his opponents, putting them down in rap form.
It only seemed natural that WWE would capitalize on his growing popularity by pitting him in a legitimate rap battle with Jay Z and Fabolous and putting it front and center on WWE’s biggest show of the year. Win or lose, the segment was going to do wonders for Cena’s character and gimmick. Alas, it never went down, as both Fabolous and Jay Z were no shows.
According to Cena, Jay Z and his wife Beyonce had “other commitments” and pulled out of Wrestlemania XIX a couple of weeks before. As for Fabolous, Cena stated that he pulled out of the event the day of the show. Apparently, Fabolous received an invitation to perform at a Spring Break concert and decided to ditch Wrestlemania. While that may be true, it was reported that Fabolous was arrested 6 days prior to ‘Mania in New York City on a gun possession charge. He was released from jail after paying $2,500 on bail the next day. Regardless, Fabolous no showing Wrestlemania really angered Cena the most.
Years later, Fabolous went on Twitter to state he wasn’t even asked by WWE to appear. He wrote:
“I don’t remember anyone hitting me to battle John Cena
but he can’t C me lol“
While Jay Z never said what his other commitments were that day, he did go on Lebron James podcast and state that he considers Wrestlemania to be “bigger than the Super Bowl.” Whatever the true reasons for Fabolous and Jay Z not attending, WWE went ahead with the segment anyway. In place of the two rappers, were cardboard cutouts of them. Unfortunately for Cena, the rap battle did not take place on the main show as previously planned, but on the pre show that aired on Sunday Night Heat.
John Cena took out his anger and frustration that night on the cardboard cutouts. His Wrestlemania 19 rap went as follows…
Yo, I asked hip hop for a simple MC
They said they’d send me 2; Fabolous and Jay-Z
But these gangsters didn’t wanna come up and be on TV
I’ma tell all of y’all why they wouldn’t battle with me
Yo man, it’s Jay-Z man
I’m fully focused, Rocafella man
I’ve got my girlfriend man
I don’t need to come to Seattle, I’m the king of New York
All I need in this life of sin, is me and my girlfriend
[As John Cena:]
Okay then Bonnie, where the hell is Clyde at?
He ducked me like a bitch for a little battle rap
What you want me to do man, call out your fiancé?
I’d have better competition battle rapping with Beyonce
He’s the king of New York, I’m a kid from the cellar
Only way he stays hard is by rocking another fella
Sorry that I didn’t have that much time to diss you
I’m focused on Fabolous, he’s my real issue
Dude, you need to stick to doing Reebok commercials
He showed up and tapped out after hearing me in rehearsal
They didn’t arrest you for your guns, it’s because your raps suck
Cops charged him with illegally possessing two nuts
Trade your throwback shirts for a skirt, you little whiner
And hike up your skirt, I can see your man-gina
You wanna black ball me? Well at least I got a ballsack
If they lived at the sperm bank, they couldn’t get their cum back
They talk about their ice, and all the girls loving you
The only Bush he’s seen is by watching George W
I’m a main event player, these fools is in the background
I take over you, and then I take over Smackdown
They could do a show in their living room and still not sell out
This is the WWE, get the F out
Yo, it’s John Cena
Thuganomics hot as hell
He’s just a bad idea, like the XFL
I main event Wrestlemania 20
You see me, you out of luck
You don’t like what I’m saying?
Well I just don’t give a
The Cena rap did not go over too well with Vince McMahon. It was the line that said “He’s just a bad idea, like the XFL,” that got McMahon heated and summoned writer Dave Lagana to his office. According to Lagana, McMahon questioned him on that particular line, as the failure of the XFL was still a deep wound to Vince’s ego. McMahon would go on to say, ‘From now on, I need to know everything he’s (John Cena) gonna say.’
Despite the rap battle not going as planned, John Cena said that his first Wrestlemania appearance was a great experience and is in awe of how big the event has become since then. While the solo rap battle probably did nothing to advance Cena’s career, he still found a way to become one of the company’s biggest, most successful superstars.