Writing my blog earlier about anti-Rock sentiment in the WWE locker room over Dwayne Johnson headlining WrestleMania 28 got me thinking. What would the Miami main-event look like without the return of The Rock?
I thought it would be a fun idea to take a look at the current roster and come up with what this year’s WrestleMania headliner would have been without Dwayne Johnson. The WWE locker room doesn’t want an outsider coming in and taking the top spot. That’s fine, but the alternatives aren’t pretty.
I’ll give those disgruntled superstars what they want. I am not including outsiders in this list of potential headliners. I mean if they aren’t happy with The Rock, how could they be happy with Steve Austin, Brock Lesnar, Batista, or even Chris Jericho right? I did include guys like The Undertaker and Triple H since they aren’t necessarily outsiders.
So here you go! Five potential WrestleMania 28 main-events that wouldn’t have drawn anywhere close to what this year’s event will bring in thanks to The Rock.
John Cena vs. The Undertaker – I pegged this one last year right after WrestleMaia 27 when I tried taking a hand at predicting this year’s event. Of all potential headline matches on the roster, this is the only one that I feel would have a chance of bumping business.
This is fresh, there are a couple of intriguing storylines that could be written, and fans would have another opportunity to be polarized by two opposite babyfaces. I also think that this one could have the potential to tear the house down. It wouldn’t shock me to see this match at some point, yet I have a feeling we would be seeing it in March if The Rock was cooking elsewhere.
John Cena vs. CM Punk – There was big money here in this one that unfortunately got flushed down the drain when Punk returned after a mere two week absence back in the summer. If and this is a big if, the WWE kept Punk out until January, Cena was champion and he returned claiming rightful ownership of the WWE championship, there could have been something there. Unfortunately that didn’t happen.
Without The Rock, Punk would have made the most sense if the WWE was looking to elevate a young star such as they did last year with The Miz. The reality is that while Punk is over and selling merchandise, he hasn’t made a bit of difference to business. In other words, the difference here in a WrestleMania payoff between this and the current main-event could be a new house for some of the supporting talent.
John Cena vs. Randy Orton – Could they really do this one again? They certainly teased it in last year’s Royal Rumble and the crowd didn’t seem to care. If you are looking to take a match between the two biggest stars in the company, ala: Austin vs. The Rock from the Attitude Era, this would have been the way to go.
Even though it has been a while since these guys have locked up, it is still considered a stale feud by most fans. The overkill of matches from their last feud would have made it a difficult sell for a WrestleMania main-event. Would it have made sense? Yes, but I wouldn’t expect this one to wind up on TMZ.com or CNN as a top story the way Rock vs. Cena will.
John Cena vs. Triple H – I know, I know that some of you are already groaning. Triple H isn’t a full-timer, but he has certainly had a knack for sticking his nose into the ring (no pun intended) at just the right time to snag a big payoff. It may not have made the final cut, but I can almost guarantee you that this match would have at least been in consideration of taking the top WrestleMania 28 spot.
Personally, I wouldn’t have had any problem with it. As I have written about recently, I don’t think there is anyone better at selling a match in the WWE today than Hunter. By the time WrestleMania rolled around, I think he would have done a tremendous job of getting the WWE Universe pumped to see this WrestleMania rematch. While it certainly wouldn’t have done the kind of business that the event will do with The Rock, I think it could have had a real shot of doing more business than any other possible match on or off this list.
John Cena vs. Mark Henry – This isn’t necessarily a match that looks appealing on paper. However, Henry has done a fantastic job of turning himself into a money player over the last several months. Even his matches have gotten better. If Henry sustained that monster heel run he had a few months back, this one could have been a good bet to take the top spot.
So there you have it. I can’t think of anything else that could have made the list. So the next time one of these disgruntled WWE wrestlers start whining about The Rock taking their buddy’s spot, just remember how different the amount of zeroes would have looked on your WrestleMania payoff without him.