One year ago fans were salivating over the prospect of seeing John Cena vs. The Rock. A year later and a few weeks out from WrestleMania 28, I think it is fair to ask whether this match is coming one year too late.
I remember a year ago how the WWE fans went nuts for The Rock whenever he would appear live on RAW. The Rock was a superstar, a megastar, and the fans treated him like a returning hero. One year later it appears that WWE fans have lost some of their enthusiasm for The People’s Champ at the worst possible time of his comeback.
[adinserter block=”2″]Maybe it was a bad night, maybe it was John Cena’s hometown, or maybe it was just too much of The Rock, but the reaction Dwayne Johnson got at Monday’s WWE RAW was stunning. For the first time since he returned to the WWE a year ago, the air came out of the balloon. Not only were the people not nearly as excited to see The Rock as previous audiences were, they even booed and mocked him. For a guy that has generally had WWE fans eating out of his hands, he is now going on two weeks where he has struggled to hold the crowd’s attention for an entire promo.
I started to think as I watched as to whether the WWE waited a year too late to book the biggest WrestleMania match of this generation? Not only did The Rock connect with the live audience on every appearance last year, he was a ratings draw. Fans who stopped watching pro wrestling years ago came back to see the return of the Great One. Now, The Rock is no more of a ratings mover than John Cena and that is a scary fact.
Now of course last year the WWE were already full speed ahead with The Miz vs. John Cena for WrestleMania 27. But the fans didn’t want to see it. The fans didn’t care about The Miz or Cena’s quest for the WWE championship. All they wanted to see is Cena and The Rock go nose-to-nose, promo-to-promo, People’s Elbow to Five Knuckle Shuffle and lock horns at WrestleMania. While a vast majority of fans are still interested in this match, it is not nearly the same as a year ago. Would anyone have really been that upset if they scrapped The Miz vs. John Cena last year in favor of The Rock vs. Cena?
So what happened? I think a lot of things happened. For one, The Rock started appearing more, marginalizing his impact on a week to week basis. Two, The Rock endorsed John Cena last year after WrestleMania, which in my opinion could be the biggest problem with the minimizing interest since last April. Three, he already wrestled! There is nothing special about seeing The Rock in a WWE ring at this point. Four, the WWE creative team have worked so hard to get John Cena over, that they have sacrificed the entirety of the match in order to do so.
This isn’t to say that these guys can’t bring them back. But with only a few weeks to go it will be difficult. RAW is in Philadelphia shortly, which is generally a real hot crowd. Maybe that passion on television can boost this match back up to the level it was a year ago? I don’t know what kind of angle they could do at this point other than completely turning one of these guys to heel to get lost fans back. At this point, it may be more about keeping the audience you have rather than bringing back the fans you lost.
[adinserter block=”1″]In closing it just goes to show you that whether you are a pro wrestling, boxing, or MMA promoter, you need to strike while the iron is hot. Whether you have The Rock, Steve Austin, Chuck Liddell, Hulk Hogan, or Manny Pacquiao at your disposal, a fickle audience will not wait one year for your Super Match. Unfortunately for the WWE, it looks like they are learning that the hard way.