Just today, the WWE legend John Cena discussed WWE’s growth into China to international members of the media at press event in Shanghai.
The spoke for 2 minutes in Mandarin.
I love this.
I just had to write about this.
Now, the last time I spoke about something similar was when Mark Zuckerberg spoke in complete Chinese for an hour long press conference in China.
I was very impressed by this and did a video on how good his Mandarin was.
It attracted some negative comments. People said called him a “pasty white man” and made fun of his Chinese. That’s completely against the positive attitude I want to bring to the picture and they’ve been banned from commenting.
Mark clearly had spent a very large amount of time working with teachers and his wife to learn the language. He was clearly a very intelligent man to pick this language up at his age.
Although the enunciation and tone of words was often off, I was incredibly impressed by his understanding of the words, the vocabulary, how the words worked together, and his grammar.
He wasn’t perfect but it was impressive that he had made such an effort.
Chinese isn’t an easy language.
More importantly, it was clear that like many others, Mark Zuckerberg had recognized China as an important country and superpower in the world. He really made a point to do what he could.
Today, a video went viral with John Cena giving a 2 minutes speech about WWE in China.
In the last year, the internet has made John Cena into a well known internet meme. This running joke has spread through the internet like wildfire to sites like Reddit and Vine.
Cena has definitely upped his game. I don’t know if he leveraged the meme or was already hustling, but he transitioned his career as a wrestler to a couple movie roles this year similar to what The Rock did inthe past.
When I saw this video, I was impressed.
John Cena was clearly taking things seriously. He recognized the importance of China and the importance of growth of the WWE business.
Most people in America who know of WWE think of it as a form of fake wrestling on TV that’s been around for decades. I sure did. I didn’t really know why so many people watched it when they knew it was faked wrestling for entertainment.
What people don’t know is that it’s a legitimate business that makes 600 million a year in revenue (that’s before profit though). Their revenue is also rising on a quarterly and annually basis even today.
John Cena is right to take this serious.
How Was John Cena’s Mandarin Chinese?
For 2 minutes, Cena definitely spoke for a shorter time than Zuckerberg.
Having said that, it didn’t take me long to tell that he understood the meaning of every single one of the words he spoke. Based on his gestures, intonation, and body language, it was easy to tell this was the case.
That part really impressed me. The way he was talking was similar to Zuckerberg. It really did feel like he was speaking each word with understanding and intention behind it and it showed in his body language.
In certain ways, he was more fluent than Zuckerberg because Zuck had to pause to think of what to say next. But that’s because Mark had to answer questions for an hour and incorporate more complex sentences while Cena had memorized a script.
Even though it was a memorized script, I was still impressed because it definitely seemed like he wasn’t just blindly repeating words with no indication of their structure or meaning.
Can he speak proper Chinese? Does his proficiency expand much beyond his script here? I don’t know.
I do know that this was an awesome effort that he put into doing this.
He definitely didn’t have to. Most people at his age would have closed off his mind to believing they were young enough to even attempt it. I find that especially inspiring because recently, I saw an interview of Taylor Swift saying she was too old to properly learn another language.
And Taylor’s much younger than Cena!
I think it’s really cool that Cena did this and it was clear that he really wanted to help talk WWE to China. He said in his speech that he spoke in Chinese to better facilitate that process.
Is This A Good Move?
Now, we can debate to death whether this is a good move.
Is WWE being overeager by branching out to China? Why not take a closer to home target? They aren’t a massive multi-billion dollar company yet to go too crazy.
Was this a good business move? From personal experience, I know that China has a very different culture than the USA. There are definitely similarities in terms of capitalism nowadays, but still many differences.
Would they really accept WWE?
I don’t know.
We can also debate until the cows come home whether or not he should have done this.
While it’s cool, if the language isn’t very proficient, it can definitely start working less effectively. I’ve seen this occur in beauty pageants like Miss Universe: They ask a Spanish-speaker a question and they really want to answer in English. But, their English is so broken that the complexity and amazingness of the answer is lost.
My own personal opinion is that John Cena was right to speak in Chinese for a short 2 minute speech. It’s more courteous and respectful. For a longer hour long speech, I wouldn’t advise against it even if you could.
What I can say is that I am definitely impressed by what has happened here.
I could be wrong based on such little information as a 2 minute video, but it seems that John Cena may just be like Mark Zuckerberg compared to me: He has a larger vocabulary, understanding of sentence structure and grammar, but lacks the feel for native intonation of different words.
As a Chinese American, it really does remind me that there shouldn’t be excuses if I want to learn Chinese. I’ve definitely dropped the ball and lost a lot of my knowledge of it over the years since Chinese school. But it’s definitely an interesting skill to consider mastering for international business now that China is a superpower.