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John Cena pitches pitches London as venue

BusinessJohn Cena pitches pitches London as venue

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Dwayne ”The Rock” Johnson and John Cena in action during WrestleMania XXVIII at Sun Life Stadium on April 1, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Ron Elkman | sports Imagery | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images

Wrestling legend John Cena surprised fans with a pitch to hold WWE’s largest live event Westlemania, the so-called “Super Bowl of wrestling” that has never taken place outside of North America, in London.

WWE brought its premium live event called Money in the Bank to London’s O2 arena on Saturday, in its second major event in the U.K. in the last year.

Cena, a 16-time world champion in WWE and now Hollywood movie star, shocked fans with an appearance at Money in the Bank, after a near three-month absence.

The crowd erupted as his tell-tale entrance music hit, but Cena arrived not to fight — but to pitch to hold Wrestlemania in London.

“It’s not up to me, it’s up to the decision makers. They don’t necessarily know how to feel about London,” Cena told the packed O2 arena which booed at the suggestion.

“They think this is kind of a hostile environment,” Cena said, to which the crowd replied with a louder chorus of boos.

“They think that sometimes you guys are a distraction. They even think that you guys try to take over the show,” Cena said, to which the crowd cheered loudly in agreement.

“You see that? They don’t know what they’re talking about. You are the voice. You are the heartbeat. You are not trying to take over the show. You are the show,” Cena said.

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“So I am here to try to bring Wrestlemania to London.”

The fans erupted in cheers once more.

“Take a moment right now, let them see, let them feel, let them hear what WrestleMania is going to sound like in London,” Cena added.

‘Never say never’

Wrestlemania is WWE’s biggest live event and has never taken place outside of North America. This year’s edition was held in California.

However, the WWE has looked to do more of its premium live events, which happen roughly once a month, outside of the U.S. This year alone, WWE has held such events in Canada, Saudi Arabia, Puerto Rico and the U.K.

The WWE creative process is carefully scripted. It’s unclear if Cena went off-script in his comments about London and Wrestlemania. However, the WWE is pushing into international markets and if indeed the comments were planned, it’s significant that Cena was chosen to deliver them, given his important status in the history of the company.

Paul “Triple H” Levesque, chief content officer at the WWE, on Saturday said that Cena had put him in an “unenviable” position regarding his bid to make the U.K. the location of Wrestlemania. However, he did not shut the door on the possibility.

“So never say never for any of it. The intent is there. It is a lot more difficult than it appears, but the intent is there. And if there  is a way to get a lot of these international events done, we’re hell bent on doing them,” Levesque said.

Talk of WWE’s premier live event in the U.K. comes at an interesting time for the WWE, which is currently in the process of merging with UFC. Meanwhile, its startup rival AEW is hosting the ‘All In’ live event at Wembley stadium in the U.K. in August — a bigger venue than the O2 arena where WWE held Money in the Bank.

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Last week, AEW CEO Tony Khan told CNBC that, so far, AEW has sold 65,000 tickets for the event, for nearly $9 million.

CEO of wrestling start-up AEW on the impact of the WWE-UFC merger

“It’s the biggest wrestling event ever in Europe and in the history of pro wrestling only a couple of the biggest WrestleMania shows stand alongside AEW All In as the biggest revenue wrestling shows in the history of the business. And that show is still a few months away,” Khan told CNBC.

AEW is WWE’s closest rival and has poached some of the WWE’s top talent over the past few years.

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