Is Rock vs. Cena the match we really want to see at WrestleMania XXVIII?
On the night after WrestleMania XXVII, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson showed up on Monday night RAW to have an encounter with John Cena, who he screwed over for the WWE Championship the night before. During the exchange that followed Cena challenged him to a match headlining next year’s WrestleMania in Rock’s hometown of Miami, Florida, and The Rock accepted. As a fan of “The Great One”, I am ecstatic that he will be an active participant in the buildup towards Mania XXVIII. He is without a doubt one of my favorite performers of all time. You’d be hard pressed to name many wrestlers who have combined his unique blend of athletic and in-ring skills with his top notch promo and mic abilities. Many believe he is the greatest “talker” in the history of sports entertainment, and his ability to verbally run down his opponents with words is legendary (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngB-mNOyjDI).
The Rock hasn’t competed in a match since 2004, and on paper his pending battle with Cena makes a great deal of sense. WrestleMania XXVIII should do huge numbers in terms of pay-per view buys, as The Rock is either the 2nd or 3rd biggest box office draw in WWE history. Cena, the current company golden boy, is not only the WWE’s top current merchandise seller but also a hero to an entire generation of wrestling fans (i.e. the under 10 year olds) in a similar mode to the 1980’s “say your prayers/ eat your vitamins” Hulk Hogan. Cena has been taking digs at The Rock for years for turning his back on the wrestling business, spending all his time making movies, and further distancing himself from his wrestling moniker by referring to himself as Dwayne instead of The Rock (sidebar: One has to wonder if Cena’s jabs at Rock throughout the years were of his own doing or a slow feud build concocted by Vinny Mac). With the setting of the next WrestleMania in Rock’s hometown, Rock vs. Cena has a chance to have that rare big match feel that we have seen very few times since the Rock vs. Hogan, “Icon vs. Icon” match of WrestleMania X8. Though not the prettiest match due to Hogan’s age and in-ring limitations, it was nonetheless memorable to anyone who watched it due to the wild emotional swings of the crowd, the uncertainty of who would end up victorious, and by the fact you truly believed you were watching a rare moment in the history of the business. While it will be hard for Rock/Cena to approach the level of Rock/Hogan, it definitely has a chance to be one of the more memorable encounters in recent memory.
Despite these elements, if Rock is only coming back for this one match (unless he competes in this year’s Survivor Series which is the current rumor), is a contest against John Cena at Mania XXVIII what we really want to see? Maybe I am just sick of Cena being branded as the “top guy” for all these years. I know he is a great ambassador for the WWE, kids love him, and his in-ring ability is better than most people give him credit for. Still, I am sure the WWE booking team could think of a better matchup for The Rock. My worry is we might never see him again in the squared circle, and if this is the case I personally think there are better opponents WWE could find for him to make the likely last match of his career memorable.
Here are a few that opponents that I would rather see The Rock paired up with for his possible last hurrah:
5. Chris Jericho: Although “the best in the world at what he does” is currently on hiatus from the WWE, he could easily find his way back to build a nice storyline with Rock for Mania. The two are friends outside of wrestling and love working together (for more details read Jericho’s book “Undisputed”), and Jericho has been beating WWE audiences over the head for years about how he beat Rock and Austin in the same night to become the first Undisputed champ in WWE history, which could be a possible jumping off point. The two are both money in the ring and would surely put on a hell of a match.
4. CM Punk: The hottest thing going in the WWE right now, he has recently taken shots at Rock for being a long-time kiss ass of Vince McMahon and for being put in the main event at Mania XXVIII despite not being an active wrestler. Punk feels the top spot should be his, Rock says he draws more PPV buys in one night than Punk has in his entire life…storyline go!
3. Shawn Michaels: HBK is a retired, but given the opportunity to headline Mania against Rock might be enough to coax him out of retirement. These two have never met in the ring, so it would be a dream matchup for wrestling fans. Given Michael’s skills in the ring it would certainly be a show-stealing classic, and a storyline could be built off of the real-life animosity the two had in the late 90’s with HBK/HHH trying to hold down The Rock from his inevitable greatness.
2. Undertaker: Undertaker and Rock have never met in a Mania setting. An angle could be built on Rock saying the only thing he has left to accomplish in the business is ending the streak, or that it is the only reason he is coming back, etc.
1. Stone Cold: It would be a huge stretch for Stone Cold to come back for another match, but a 4th Mania contest featuring the two men who saved the WWE in the late 90’s from the WCW would be great. Another match between the top box office draws in company history would likely sell off the charts, and it would bring in the casual fans who fondly remember their Mania XV, Mania X-Seven, and Mania XIX encounters.
While all of these potential contests are long shots, plans seemingly change in the WWE on a daily basis and hopefully one of these matches takes place instead of the Rock/Cena meeting. This might be the last time we see the iconic Rock participant in a WWE event; I just hope it’s the match we all want to see.Follow us on Twitter:@PACsSports