Blog Entry

Wrestler as honorary starter raising eyebrows

Posted on: February 7, 2012 11:25 am
Edited on: February 7, 2012 5:22 pm
Posted by Pete Pistone

There are those who still liken NASCAR racing to professional wrestling.

Even three time series champion Tony Stewart has done it during one of his more infamous riffs a few years ago when things didn't go his way in the outcome of a race.

“I guess NASCAR thinks ’Hey, wrestling worked, and it was for the most part staged, so I guess it’s going to work in racing, too,”’ Stewart said in the wake of a 2007 race. “I can’t understand how long the fans are going to let NASCAR treat them like they’re stupid before the fans finally turn on NASCAR.

“I don’t know that they’ve run a fair race all year.”

Stewart later apologized for the remarks and those who know him understood some of what was said was done so in a combination of anger and humor.

However the connection does still get made by some and that will most certainly be reinforced with the announcement that WWE "Superstar" John Cena will be the honorary starter for this year's Daytona 500.

Cena has been involved in the sport before and has proclaimed being a big fan. The speedway no doubt is looking to generate buzz around the announcement and tap into the huge pro wrestling following that follows Cena and his WWE counterparts.

But there will still be more than a few people who feel it's the perfect marriage between the two "sports," likely to generate some bad publicity along the way.

Here's the official release from the speedway:

News Release

WWE Superstar John Cena will wave the green flag as Honorary Starter of the 54th annual Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, Feb. 26 at historic Daytona International Speedway.

Cena was invited to participate in this year’s big race by 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series runner-up Carl Edwards last night on WWE’s Monday Night Raw. Edwards got out of his official No. 99 Fastenal Ford and told Cena, “NASCAR asked me to come to Monday Night Raw and personally invite you to drop the green flag and officially start the Daytona 500 on February 26.” An appreciative John Cena enthusiastically accepted with an emphatic “Yes!”

“John Cena is the greatest Superstar in WWE today,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “We look forward to seeing him on the flag stand waving the green flag to start ‘The Great American Race’ and kick off the new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.”

Cena, who made his WWE debut in 2002, is a ten-time World Champion. He can be seen each week on the hit cable series Monday Night Raw on USA Network. The avid NASCAR fan will headline WrestleMania against The Rock at Sun Life Stadium in Miami on Sunday, April 1, 2012.

Cena’s success has led to starring roles in various Hollywood films. He recently starred in The Reunion from WWE Studios and alongside Patricia Clarkson and Danny Glover in the family drama Legendary. His first theatrical film was the 2006 action-thriller The Marine from Twentieth Century Fox. Always a fan favorite with kids, Cena played himself in Nickelodeon’s popular teen comedies Fred: The Movie and Fred 2: Night of the Living Fred. A popular talk show guest, Cena has appeared on The Today ShowThe Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Talk and many more.

Cena, like many NASCAR drivers, has a long standing relationship with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He is on pace to grant his 300th wish, making him the first celebrity wish granter ever to reach that lofty goal. The Make-A-Wish Foundation recently dedicated a room to WWE at the foundation’s headquarters in Phoenix, AZ, in honor of Cena’s unwavering dedication to children with life-threatening medical conditions.

Past Honorary Starters for the Daytona 500 include NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Richard Petty, actor Ashton Kutcher, comedian Whoopi Goldberg and singer Mariah Carey. 

More NASCAR coverage

Category: Auto Racing
Tags: John Cena, NASCAR

Since: Dec 12, 2010
Posted on: February 10, 2012 10:23 am

Wrestler as honorary starter raising eyebrows


Since: Mar 9, 2010
Posted on: February 9, 2012 10:52 am

Wrestler as honorary starter raising eyebrows

from one redneck to another. 


Since: May 25, 2007
Posted on: February 8, 2012 8:05 pm

Wrestler as honorary starter raising eyebrows

Is this what they pay this hack for? If he does not have any more original ideas for articles, I would suggest a coloring book, some crayolas and a full frontal lobotomy. Cena is certainly no worse than Whoopi Goldberg.

Since: Jun 12, 2008
Posted on: February 8, 2012 2:23 pm

Wrestler as honorary starter raising eyebrows

He is a hack

Since: Mar 19, 2009
Posted on: February 8, 2012 1:00 pm

Wrestler as honorary starter raising eyebrows

Pistone is a hack.  I'm guessing that he's too busy dreaming about Danica to put out a decent NASCAR story.

Since: Aug 30, 2011
Posted on: February 7, 2012 11:06 pm

Wrestler as honorary starter raising eyebrows

Probably only raised your eyebrows Pisstone. You are the biggest drama queen and the worst racing fan I have ever known, you never have anything good to say and you are always trying to stir a pot that doesnt exsist. I could care less about wrestling and I could care less about NASCARs "phantom" caution flags, nobody cares, if anything we like the excitement of bunching up the field, a race is a race and it will always be a race no matter what you try and say!

Since: Nov 25, 2011
Posted on: February 7, 2012 10:11 pm

Wrestler as honorary starter raising eyebrows

The wrestling comparisions started years ago. I live in the south, where there are only 2 sports: wrasslin' and racin'. LOL.

“I can’t understand how long the fans are going to let NASCAR treat them like they’re stupid before the fans finally turn on NASCAR."

Tony said that in 2007. I won't dispute that statement now, because it's the truth. Maybe Tony is psychic?

NASCAR can use any means necessary to fill seats, but there's only one thing that will to bring me back to the track:

Great racing ON the track. 


Since: Nov 20, 2007
Posted on: February 7, 2012 9:19 pm

Wrestler as honorary starter raising eyebrows

Not a big deal that he will be the man with the Green Flag in hand at the start of the Daytona 500.  Surely this is a huge deal to him and congrats to him for getting the gig.  Leave it to Pete Pistone to make a huge mountain out of a teeny teeny molehill. 

Also really nice to see Pete use Tony's quotes from 2007, sort of comparing racing to wrestling, without any context at all.  This was from the Phoenix night spring race and Tony was indeed pissed about 4 of the 6 cautions being for debris.  Especially the last caution with hardly any race to go.  That's when Jeff Gordon got by him and won the race.  Another part of Tony's quote that Mr. Pistone chose not to use was this(closely paraphrased): "if they (NASCAR) believe that officiating races this way is good for the sport, then they are wrong."  This was indeed his opinion that running races with so many debris cautions is not the way to go.  He also added this into his comments: "it's almost if they (NASCAR) are playing God." 

Nothing personal Pete, but even I, as a Tony fan know that he was dead serious in his comments after the race.  He wasn't trying to be humourous.  But to associate one part of his "quotes" without any context makes it simply look like Tony just blasted NASCAR as trying to emulate pro wrestling for absolutely no reason, but just to say it.  Bad reporting there Petey-boy.  Using select quotes for your agenda is just insulting to smart people that know the whole story, but instead you're attempting to lead the sheep that you hope to herd to your point of view.

On a final note, this is the race in which Jeff Gordon won his 76th race and tied the great Dale Earnhardt in career wins.  It was a touching moment when he drove around the track with the 3 flag flying in his hands.  Sad was the fan response, as they threw beer cans at his car as he drove by.  The next week, Gordon won his 77th career race at Talladega and the fan response was much the same.

P.S.---I don't like debris cautions either, especially unseen debris and I was very glad when Tony spoke up after that race. 

Since: Dec 23, 2008
Posted on: February 7, 2012 4:45 pm

Wrestler as Honorary Starter raising eyebrows

Who cares. NASCAR is in trouble with the lost of a fan base over the years. It always seems that no matter what they do (or anyone for that matter). someone will have a problem. You can't please everyone all the time. I think asking the President would have created a bigger fuss.

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