“I’m just trying to make it through,” Cena joked on “Good Morning America” of his expected opening monologue. “ESPN is taking the steps to make sure I have viable replacements. [Golfer] Freddy Couples, [basketball player] Dirk Nowitzki and [retired baseball player] Pete Incaviglia are waiting in the wings.
“I’m just trying to not get the gong, as I’m the first WWE superstar to host the ESPYS. I know what a tremendous honor it is and I’m steady as a rock, but this is the hand I shoot with.”
Cena, 39, said he knows the pressure will certainly be on, but more than anything, “I just want to have fun. Even in the worst-case scenario, I’m going to have fun.”
He's also ready to take on the more serious aspects of the award show, however, with prestigious honors such as presenting the Pat Tillman Award.
“Sgt. Elizabeth Marks is receiving the Pat Tillman Award for service and she is an unbelievable story, an unbelievable para-athlete,” he explained. “She is a four-time gold medalist in this year’s Invictus Games. She has a wonderful story. She had a debilitating hip injury while she was deployed and came home to get fixed which was an unbelievable struggle. [She] found swimming as a way to motivate troops and then went over to England to compete in the 2014 Invictus Games where she contracted a respiratory disease and almost lost her life and there was a hospital in England that literally saved her life.
“It’s that devotion to service and devotion to community and devotion to people around her, through the channel of sport and service; that’s why we’re doing something special at the ESPYS,” he added.
Cena is also celebrating an accomplishment himself.
“Yesterday was my 14th year anniversary of WWE television,” he proudly said. “It’s been a long ride. It’s been a crazy ride. The ESPYS are just another stop along the road but it’s going to be a fun one. It is truly a great night. It’s fun, it’s sports, it’s entertainment, it’s inspirational, it’s moving. I think it’s something that any person can enjoy.”
The ESPY Awards air on ABC July 13 at 8 p.m. ET.