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When you listen to John Cena answer questions in an interview, it’s almost impossible to not feel pumped and patriotic. That’s because that’s exactly how WWE Superstar and actor Cena, who is now the host and executive producer of American Grit, wants you to feel. He’s that proud of our armed forces and he’s that dedicated to making whatever he touches a success.

In a recent press conference, Cena talked about the background of the show and his military admiration. “I’ve never made it a secret that I support our armed forces, and my patriotism in the 15 years that I’ve been involved with WWE has also never been a secret,” he says. “I’m not one to rest on my accomplishments, so I consistently ask myself how I can do more. This show originally was birthed as an entirely philanthropic idea. But, we thought it was a better idea and a better concept to make it a competition show which showcased the leadership skills of the US military. It is military leaders teaching civilians, untrained civilians how to function as the most efficient team as they can.”

American Grit is a 10-episode competition series on FOX, airing every Thursday at 9 p.m. EST. The premise is simple: Sixteen of the country’s toughest men and women are split into four teams as they work together to face a variety of military-grade and survival-themed challenges. The mentors are known as “The Cadre,” and include Rorke Denver, Noah Galloway, Tawanda “Tee” Hanible and Nick “The Reaper” Irving, who represent the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.

American Grit, John Cena
AMERICAN GRIT: L-R: Noah Galloway, Nick “The Reaper” Irving, John Cena™, Tawanda “Tee” Hanible and Rorke Denver | Michael Lavine/FOX Photo

The competition is already a few weeks in, and Cena is impressed with what he’s seen. “It’s all about digging deep and finding something inside yourself that you didn’t know you had.”

John Cena – Not Just WWE

Cena, 39, knows a little about digging deep. He’s a 15-time WWE World Champion, but he’s extended his career beyond the squared circle. In 2015, Cena appeared with Amy Schumer in Judd Apatow’s “Trainwreck,” and with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in “Sisters.”  Vanity Fair named Cena one of the “Top 10 Most Surprising Stars of the Summer,” and Esquire called him America’s “Funniest Professional Wrestler.” On television, he has appeared in many television shows, including “PSYCH” and “Saturday Night Live.”

“My mission statement has always been the same,” says Cena. “It was the same when I set foot in WWE. How can I extend the WWE brand as large as I possibly can? And after close to 15 years of consistently competing every single day, I don’t want to say I’ve exhausted that resource, but it’s also time to take opportunities elsewhere when they could possibly broaden the outreach of the brand.”

His goal has also been to change the perception of WWE Superstars. “We are damn good entertainers, so good that the general populous who does not know the product thinks that’s all we can do, and that’s how well we do it,” he says. “They think we’re just oh, just this big crazy guy who does X, Y, and Z. No. We understand what we do and we do it extremely well, and opportunities like this, opportunities like the Today Show have been wonderful places to showcase different facets of what goes into performing in the WWE. How I’d love to be talking to you about Season 10 of American Grit, because I love, I truly love what the show stands for.”

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