The Rock has once again become the massive draw he always had been, with shows he is advertised to appear on, achieving markedly better ratings than a usual episode of WWE’s Monday Night Raw.
However, these appearances have been mightily sporadic for a man who proudly exclaimed that he would “never leave again”, with him only occasionally turning up on Raw and even fewer of those appearances being in person. And it is this reason that The Rock’s plan to come back, “…have the biggest match in history, then leave” has backfired. The Rock has in fact succeeded only in presenting Cena in a better light.
Recently we have been bombarded with video packages building their match at WrestleMania 28, but instead of showing The Rock preparing for this once in a lifetime match, they have simply shown a movie star working out.
In contrast to that, John Cena has been at every single Raw and PPV since the match was booked, promoting the fight and hyping what is sure to be an epic encounter.
I am the last person you would regard as a “Cena fan”. The last time I honestly enjoyed him consistently was back in the Thuganomics days. However, in recent weeks, Cena has been able to drag me back.
Two weeks ago on Monday Night Raw Cena delivered a promo unlike any he has in recent years (yes, his promos with Punk were excellent, but this was solo). He instilled such passion into every word, he made me feel as if he truly believed what he was saying. He delivered it in a way that he just doesn’t any more; with real humour and not relying on terrible gags or puns. Even in the 60 seconds he was out there for on Monday he hooked me more on this match than Dwayne talking about Chinese food ever could. It’s this investment in the match that not only makes me root for Cena in this match, but straight up dislike The Rock. It almost feels like The Rock just wants to come back for the glory and expects the match to build itself, without any real involvement on his part.
This worries me. When was the last time a big match was built by only one of the competitors showing up? A strong build can make the difference between a good match and an incredible one. What would the match between Punk and Cena at Money In The Bank 2011 have been without that legendary promo on that warm night in Vegas and those weeks of amazing back and forths?
The lack of build for this Cena/Rock main event is making it harder and harder to get excited for this match. Although there are four weeks left, this match has been booked since April 4 last year – having barely made any start on the build from The Rock’s perspective is simply unacceptable.
The disappointing thing is, The Rock has the potential to cut phenomenal promos. His initial return promo was fantastic and sparked interest in the WWE not seen in sometime. His promo at last November’s Survivor Series was classic Rock and he had the whole of Madison Square Garden eating out of the palm of his hand, but it seems now he just can’t be bothered. He feels that since he paid his dues long ago he gets a free pass not to put effort in
On Monday Night Raw this week, Rock started off decently, talking about how much this match means and how the electricity was giving him goose bumps, but within three minutes of that he turns it into a “who can chant about me cause I’m so amazing” contest. He then berates John Cena for fighting for people in the back because no one fought for him. It seems like Dwayne doesn’t realize that the WWE has changed drastically since he left and inserting “bitch” into every single breath he takes won’t change that.
Also who will forget those weeks of “Via Satellite” promos which were not only disrespectful (too busy to take time out of your movie schedule Dwayne?), but were also terrible.
My main problem with Dwayne’s hands-off approach with WrestleMania is the fact that Cena is actually putting time in. Yes, they show a video package of Cena working out with some FCW guys or traveling on the road which although a bit hit or miss they are at least genuine, and usually on the same night as a real life promo. Alternatively when it comes to The Rock we are shown him promoting his new movie, looking tough while working out and even at that, these are just lifted from his new, conveniently timed, DVD release. Even when WWE fans are given newly recorded footage, it always comes off as disingenuous. It is almost as if this isn’t a match between John Cena: the poster boy for the PG era versus The Rock: Attitude era legend; but instead John Cena versus Dwayne Johnson: movie star.
Yes, this match will probably sell a million PPVs regardless. Yes, the Sun Life Stadium will explode when The Rock’s music hits. Yes, no matter what era WWE is in, The Rock will be a massive draw, and yes, the match will probably be great.
Yet, after all the dust has settled and WrestleMania season is over, John Cena will still be around. And Dwayne Johnson will fly back to Hollywood only to “electrify” when Dwayne Johnson sees fit.