It’s no secret that ESPN and WWE have become very fast friends over the last year. ESPN has regular interview segments with WWE superstars with Jonathan Coachman on SportsCenter, they’ve profiled NXT at length, been live on-site at SportsCenter and even delivered highlights, etc. etc. While ESPN may not present WWE as a sport on the same level as the NFL or NBA, they’ve certainly increased their coverage and attention paid to it exponentially in recent months.
Therefore, it would make sense that the ESPN-WWE relationship would flourish at the ESPYs with John Cena being named as host for this year’s ESPN-centric awards show.
The 2016 ESPYS Presented by Capital One will be hosted by WWE Superstar, actor and television host John Cena, who is best known as a 15-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion and record-setting Make-A-Wish granter. The ESPYS will be broadcast live on ABC Wednesday, July 13, at 8 p.m. ET from Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
Cena—who is the host and executive producer of American Grit, a new military-inspired competition series on FOX and has appeared in hit comedies Trainwreck and Sisters—will be joined by top athletes and celebrities to commemorate the past year in sports by recognizing major achievements, reliving unforgettable moments, and saluting the leading performers and performances. The ESPYS raise more than $1 million annually for The V Foundation, the charity founded by ESPN and the late basketball coach Jim Valvano to promote cancer research.
“It is truly an honor to be named host of The 2016 ESPYS,” said Cena. “Not only will the biggest names in sports and entertainment come together to recognize some of the most spectacular athletic performances of the year, but we’ll also raise funds for The V Foundation to further much-needed cancer research.”
As a WWE Superstar, actor, TV host and philanthropist, Cena devotes much of his time working on behalf of numerous charitable causes. He is Make-A-Wish’s most requested wish granter of all time and the only celebrity to grant 500 wishes. Cena is also committed to Susan G. Komen and its support of breast cancer research and awareness, and is a longtime supporter of the U.S. military, recently recognized by USO Metro as the recipient of their 2016 Legacy of Achievement Award.
“John is not only a superstar athlete and entertainer, but also a motivational force who inspires fans across the globe,” said executive producer Maura Mandt. “John approaches all of his endeavors with energy, enthusiasm and passion so we expect him to bring a new level of excitement to the night’s celebration.”
How great would it be to hear “Let’s go Cena! Cena sucks!” chants at the ESPYs? This will be the only thing I ever ask from the ESPYs.
The ESPYs themselves are made up awards by ESPN to get us to watch ESPN (well, technically ABC in this case) and talk about ESPN. No professional athlete ever dreams of growing up and winning an ESPY, but it is a great excuse for ESPN to brag about how important they are and how they’re able to be a bridge for the worlds of sports and entertainment. However, the ESPYs have made a wider impact in popular culture and society in the past couple years thanks to the Jimmy V Award and Arthur Ashe Courage Award being presented to the likes of Stuart Scott, Michael Sam, and Caitlyn Jenner respectively.
As for the award choice itself, Cena is part wrestler, part entertainer, part actor, part comedian and can probably pull off anything ESPN asks of him. In spite of whether passionate WWE fans like it or not, he’s the Hulk Hogan or Steve Austin of this generation. And if ESPN wants to deepen their relationship with WWE, he’s the natural choice. For those passionate wrestling fans, they can watch Cena host the ESPYs and curse under their breath that it could have been Damien Sandow.