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How I would’ve booked The Rock vs. John Cena Day 1 to WWE WrestleMania 28 – Inside The Wheelhouse

John Cena vs. The RockIt was a match that was scheduled the day after Wrestlemania 27. For the first time ever the WWE had 364 days to build one match, a dream match, on their biggest stage and at their biggest event. But for some reason the longest possible build for any Wrestlemania match in history hasn’t really connected on the level of build that it could have ever reached.

Go back to the day after Wrestlemania 27 when the match itself was officially signed. Up until that point both wrestlers made it clear that they did not like one another at all. Perfect, that’s what fans like to see two wrestlers, whether they are heel or face that does not like one another; it connects emotion to the angle. Hell the night before the match was officially announced The Rock had cost John Cena the WWE Championship in the main event of Wrestlemania 27.

How does the WWE follow up that angle to further the build to John Cena vs. The Rock at Wrestlemania 28, a match that would take place 364 days from then? With the both of them saying they “respect one another” and shaking hands, because you know, that’s how I would embrace the guy who made me lose the WWE Championship on the Super Bowl of Wrestling events in its main event match. Right off the bat that beginning angle to kick off the match made no sense to me; why isn’t John Cena trying to get revenge on The Rock for making him lose the WWE Championship!?

So there you go, the match is signed and we have our first match for Wrestlemania 27 basically an entire calendar year away. It’s something different to see in the wrestling industry, especially today but the main point of interest was how would they follow it up and make the match seem interesting?

They followed it up with a small little backstage vignette moment during The Rock’s “Birthday” celebration edition of RAW in his hometown of Miami. I get it, you want to get ratings but I’d rather see maybe John Cena giving The Rock an “attitude adjustment” on his birthday rather then Pitbull rapping to one of his songs or the Miami Heat dancers doing a dance. Wouldn’t that have made sense from a wrestling standpoint? John Cena’s “gift” to The Rock, in his hometown, could’ve been a nice “surprise” attitude adjustment that left The Rock reeling in the ring to end the show.

Is it a heel move by John Cena to do that? Yes. But wasn’t The Rock giving Cena the “rock bottom” at Wrestlemania considered a heel move by Cena’s fan base? Of course it was. You can’t have the two faces do a build-up of backstage vignettes and handshakes; it just doesn’t add any emotion to the angle at all.

Then we are welcomed to what many may call the “Summer of Punk II” where CM Punk was catapulted to the top of the WWE by cutting a now famous promo on a Monday Night RAW on June 27th, 2011. A promo that called out The Rock from being “via satellite” all the time and not really caring about the wrestling world anymore. Even when Punk cut that promo there was no real follow up to anything Punk was saying, The Rock released a YouTube video that briefly mentioned it and that was it. For the entire month there was no interaction between The Rock of John Cena.

To me, spending an entire summer with very little interaction aside from some tweets on their twitter accounts about one another was not doing the match any justice. On the night of the “Money in the Bank PPV” I would’ve done whatever I could to make sure you could fly The Rock from wherever he was filming a movie to Chicago to cost John Cena the WWE Championship and have CM Punk leave the WWE at the time with the gold. I believe that would’ve been absolute money because it would show that The Rock had so much hatred for John Cena that he would cost the company the championship and the entire Chicago crowd & wrestling world would’ve ate it completely up.

Wrestling fans love twists, that’s why the CM Punk angle during the summer was so hot at the time. Because you did not know where the angle was going to turn next, having The Rock cost John Cena the championship against a guy who publicly bashed him in his now famous promo and make the WWE lose their most prized possession would’ve made wrestling fans heads explode. But they didn’t do that and for an entire season of wrestling there was no interaction between The Rock and John Cena worth noting.

As 2011 started to enter the fall word got out that The Rock would be making his in-ring return at Survivor Series 2011 in Madison Square Garden and that he would be teaming with John Cena. It finally appeared that they would be getting somewhere with this angle being that Wrestlemania was about 6-9 months away. The WWE advertised The Rock was going to wrestle, got their tickets sold and that was just about it. The Rock looked terrific in the ring but the moments of building the match once again made John Cena look incredibly weak.

After being pushed by The Rock to get into the ring and celebrate so Cena could hear how much MSG hates him, he was met in the ring with a Rock Bottom. So once again, there was no fight from John Cena when he had The Rock right where he wanted him. The RAW prior to the Survivor Series was the same thing, no fight against one another and it had The Rock show up Cena yet again.

How is someone supposed to get hyped for the Wrestlemania 28 match if John Cena continues to not get physical at all with The Rock? He clearly has a tough time verbally sparring with The Rock so at least him getting physical may even out the odds. And the finish of the Survivor Series 2011 pay-per-view made John Cena look like he was incredibly dumb and weak after he followed up getting rock bottomed by rolling out of the ring hurt. You need to have some sort of back & forth action between the two wrestlers.

Instead of The Rock outsmarting John Cena I would’ve had Cena do the attitude adjustment to The Rock to piss off the entire MSG crowd, at least while the cameras were still rolling. If you wanted the fans to go home happy when the camera are off have The Rock exact his revenge but when you are building towards an epic Wrestlemania 28 match you need to have both guys get over on the other. It just makes basic booking sense to me.

The WWE then followed up Survivor Series 2011 by doing nothing at all between the two. From the day after Survivor Series to the Royal Rumble there was no build-up between the two at all that made me get ready for this Wrestlemania 28 match. Some people have referred to this time as an all-time low in the feud.

I’m sure The Rock & the WWE could have come up with something to just even remind wrestling fans about this match but they did not. I remember reading shortly after the match was announced that there would be a huge push on social networking sites but in the grand scheme of things there really wasn’t that much push on the social network. Even The Rock doing something “via satellite” would’ve helped during December or January, but there was nothing and many fans were left having to remember there was a match between the two in April.

When the match was originally announced I loved the idea of an entire year of build-up for one match at the biggest WWE event of the year. I really felt like the WWE was going to pull it off and be able to do it with such huge wrestlers like The Rock and John Cena. But when you look at all the months prior to now the match has maybe had like a total of 3-4 weeks build-up, I hope that come Wrestlemania season the WWE turns it up and delivers on this dream match.

For more on this topic join us for the Thursday February 23rd edition of “The Still Real to Us Show” and download the show at www.wheelhouseradio.com or www.wrestlechat.net.

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You can follow “The Champ Jeff Peck” on Twitter at www.twitter.com/therealjeffpeck you can also follow Wheelhouse Radio on twitter at www.twitter.com/thewheelhouse and you can e-mail them @ [email protected]


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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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