With WrestleMania 29 in the books and The Rock’s future in professional wrestling up in the air at the moment, I thought it would be a good time as ever to discuss if The Rock’s return to the WWE was a success or a failure.
In my opinion Wrestlemania 27 was one of the worst WrestleMania’s of the last decade and that was due in large part to the The Miz/John Cena/The Rock storyline. The WWE Champion at the time, The Miz, was an after-thought to the main event match and the focus was more on John Cena’s interaction with the host of WrestleMania 27, The Rock. The feud between those two overshadowed the match itself and gave us one of the worst/anti-climatic WrestleMania finishes ever.
The night after WrestleMania 27 gave us our first official match for WrestleMania 28, The Rock vs. John Cena. It was an unprecedented move by the WWE to announce a WrestleMania match one year in advance and gave the creative team officially one year to build towards one of the biggest dream matches since The Rock battled Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 18. The WWE had struck “gold” by getting The Rock back in the ring to take on their top superstar.
Rock vs. Cena at WrestleMania 28 gave the “old” “attitude era” fans someone to represent them (The Rock), while the “new” and “younger” fans got someone to represent them (John Cena). Fans were pumped up when the match was announced and it already had fans planning a Miami vacation to attend the perceived historic event with the match fans have been dreaming to see for some time.
Once WrestleMania 28 season began and the WWE creative team began building towards the match, fans became very critical. The buildup wasn’t what fans expected, it’s quite possible they expected too much and they began looking for excuses as to why they believed it wasn’t being executed correctly (The Rock was restrained on his promos due to the “PG” rating, etc.). Still, despite all that, fans were eager to witness one of wrestling’s last “dream matches” at a WrestleMania event.
The match itself wasn’t anything special nor was it 5-star quality at the slightest. It was a decent match that had more memorable moments from the introductions and what happened immediately after The Rock won then what happened inside the ring. The majority of fans were disappointed as their expectations weren’t met in what they saw at WrestleMania 28.
Following WrestleMania 28, The Rock vowed to be crowned WWE Champion once again before riding off into the “movie sunset” until making an appearance at the “RAW 1000” episode. The Rock’s appearance catapulted then-WWE Champion CM Punk from “super” babyface to “super” heel and the seeds were planted as “The Great One” was announced to be the #1 contender for the WWE Championship at the 2013 Royal Rumble. It definitely appeared that in July 2012 the WWE would go forward with The Rock being WWE Champion yet again.
The Rock had a good series of matches with CM Punk at the Royal Rumble & Elimination Chamber, with many people, including myself, believing that the feud and matches with CM Punk surpassed anything he did with John Cena the last two years. The Rock was the WWE Champion once again as he headed into the company’s biggest show of the year while the #1 contender to his WWE Championship at WrestleMania 29 would be his old “once in a lifetime” friend, John Cena.
I was in support of The Rock/John Cena II at first but quickly letdown due to the lack of buildup to the match heading into WrestleMania 29. It was as if either superstar had very little interaction with one another and it didn’t help that The Rock did not appear for two straight weeks in the month of March, a crucial time for WrestleMania buildup. The buzz for the match at WrestleMania 29 was a far cry from what it was at WrestleMania 28 and it translated at the biggest show of the year just a month or so ago.
The match at WrestleMania 29 was by far a better match then the two had a year prior in Miami and while they had the crowd “in it” at times, I believe it wasn’t as compared to the electricity that it had in the Orange Bowl. John Cena finally got the victory over The Rock and that’s when all the real news started happening in-regards to The Rock’s most recent WWE run.
Nearly 18 hours after WrestleMania 29, the wrestling news world went crazy when it was learned that The Rock got injured in his match with John Cena and left New Jersey without WWE knowledge. It left the WWE creative team reportedly “scrambling” heading into one of their biggest RAW shows of the year and killing any interaction between The Rock & Brock Lesnar where they would’ve “planted the seeds” for a match at WrestleMania 30. The Rock later confirmed the latter of the two, while denying he did not leave New Jersey without the WWE’s knowledge.
During that same interview The Rock spoke about his questionable future in the world of professional wrestling and said there was a “possibility” he may have wrestled his last match at WrestleMania 29. Ending what could be his most recent run with the WWE.
So with that said, was The Rock’s most recent run a success or a failure? It was 100%…a success.
Now how could that be? I just blasted nearly everything The Rock had done with the WWE in the last two years. How would something like that translate into success?
First off, it’s not The Rock’s complete fault some of those storylines never panned out like the WWE may have thought. In my opinion The Rock actually saved WrestleMania 27 and The Miz/John Cena from being any worse then it truly was. It gave a “buzz” to the show that it didn’t have weeks leading into the event.
Second, The Rock vs. John Cena heading into WrestleMania 28 had all fans excited. It’s very rare nowadays that an entire majority of wrestling fans get excited for a match and don’t honestly know who will be the winner, Rock/Cena at WrestleMania 28 brought that. It also helps that there was a good “WrestleMania buzz” heading into the event as well.
Third, WrestleMania 29 was the highest grossest WrestleMania of All-Time. Now obviously that’s not all thanks to The Rock, but he certainly played a major role in it when his match main evented that card. Throughout the entire 2-year run for The Rock he helped the WWE make a lot of money and bring them some good “pop culture” notoriety.
In America we base success off of how much money you earn and have gained. The WWE earned AND gained a lot of money when The Rock was with the company the last two years. I honestly believe the figures they have had in the last two years deserve an amount of credit to The Rock. People aren’t spending money if they don’t care, so despite what the “internet” may tell us, fans were locked in.
The “pop culture” notoriety was also a big deal for the WWE as they were able to get “mainstream” attention. The Rock is a “machine” in Hollywood nowadays and people are clamoring to see him in a wrestling ring or on the silver screen. I’ll never forget how The Rock nearly “shut down” Twitter and various other social media outlets when he returned to the WWE in February 2011. All fans were genuinely pumped to have him back and to this day his return that night is one of my favorite YouTube wrestling videos to watch due to the amount of emotion/excitement that Anaheim crowd had that night.
You can’t deny that was not a “once in a lifetime moment” in professional wrestling history.
To me the facts state that The Rock’s 2-year run with the WWE was a successful one. Could it have been better? It most certainly could have but, the “would ya, could ya, should ya’s” are exactly that. Plus I believe it’s important for fans to appreciate everything The Rock has done the last two years because let’s be honest here, he didn’t have to come back in the first place.
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