The Rock Vs. John Cena: The Build Towards WrestleMania 28's Main Event
Let me preface this by stating that I was not a fan of the announcement of WrestleMania 28’s Main Event a week after WrestleMania 27. I didn’t understand how the WWE was planning on hyping a main event for a full year when one of the participants was a part-time wrestler (at best). I get that the WWE wants to get people excited, drive up ticket sales and hope the buy rate is through the roof, but how much more hype are you going to get for WrestleMania? It’s already the biggest event of the wrestling year. That being said, they are really pushing this rivalry into overdrive and hoping it culminates with a massive main event spectacle at WM28 (and possibly beyond).
Let’s start with John Cena. Quite simply, his promo on Raw last week may have been the best of his career. He gave glimpses of his old “Doctor of Thuganomics” persona (which he had also hinted at during a previous segment with Eve Torres) which only added to the presentation. Cena has been consistent with his point that he is with the WWE wherever they need him, giving the fans their money’s worth and living, breathing and loving the business while the Rock is out in Hollywood trying to be a movie star. I love how Cena consistently refers to him as Dwayne Johnson, not The Rock. He stated last week that while The Rock was “The People’s Champion”, Dwayne is merely a “Champion with People” – insinuating that in order to even talk to him, you need to go through multiple handlers, agents, assistants and other hangers-on. Another point he made (which I completely agree with) is that while WM on April 1st will be huge, the bigger night will be on Monday, April 9th. Cena will be at Raw (wherever it may be), performing for and entertaining the crowd while Dwayne will be on some movie set “watching his stunt double do all the work”. Finally he pointed out that he will be fighting for the wrestlers in the back who sacrifice so much to live out a dream and who may be resentful of Dwayne since he can just come in whenever he feels like it and immediately be thrust into top billing. He finished the promo with “See ya next week movie star” and blew a kiss to the camera as he exited the ring.
The Rock showed up on last night’s Raw to offer his rebuttal. Predictably, the crowd erupted when he came out and remained hot throughout his promo. He began by pointing out that he was born and created in the WWE and without the wrestling industry and the fans, he would be nothing. He claims that Cena is simply taking things “too literally” when he said he would be back and that anyone with intelligence would realize that he didn’t mean every single week. Also, Rock loves that Cena runs him down while he’s not even in the building and doesn’t have a chance to answer. He then proceeded to drop a line about smacking Cena in the face with a piece of kung pao chicken and proceeded to call Cena a kung pao bitch (which predictably the audience immediately began chanting). Rock claimed that while Cena is fighting for the guys in the back, Rock will be fighting for the WWE universe and the fans. He will continue to innovate and trail blaze a path through all of entertainment (nice cheap pop since they were in Portland) and then led the crowd into multiple anti-Cena chants (including Fruity Pebbles, Lady Parts and Missing Balls).
This led Cena to make an appearance to get a little face time with The Great One. He proceeds to let Dwayne know that he will not only run him down when he’s not there but he will run him down to his face. Cena claims that Rock is an egotistical SOB who wouldn’t care if the WWE closed tomorrow and who can’t even cut a promo without having notes written on his arm (Rock clearly had notes written on his arm and hand that were seen throughout his speech). He ends it by saying he will beat the hell of The Rock at WM and says that Rock should “continue trending”. Rock finished up by saying he and Dwayne is the same person and they were both going to beat Cena’s candy ass at WM.
So far I think both guys have done a fantastic job in hyping this match. You can tell they are really into the promos and I think they may have some legitimate heat building up. Cena clearly touched a nerve by pointing out Rock’s promo notes on his arm. I’m sure Cena is also tired of The Rock coming up with new and inventive ways for the crowd to taunt him (even if some of them don’t make any sense at all). Rock knows his strengths – he can cut a promo with the best ever. He comes up with sayings that are tailor made for the audience to turn into a chant (Fruity Pebbles, etc.). He also knows that all he has to do is show up and the crowd will hang on his every word and cheer for him nonstop, which I’m sure, also grates on Cena’s nerves. I have a feeling these promos are just going to get better – anytime you have one of the top promo guys in his generation (Cena) vs. one of the top promo guys of all time (Rock), you have unlimited heights. I look forward to seeing how they plan on one-upping each other for the next month.
I’m still skeptical of the overall plan that WWE has put into motion. Obviously, I understand the business decision to bring in a “name” guy to push the needle. However, they did the same thing for Survivor Series (when Rock came back for a tag match with Cena) and the buy rate was horrible. As I mentioned before, I don’t know how much difference it will make since WrestleMania will already do great numbers. And now they have already stated that The Rock will be at WM 29 in New Jersey, so the possibility of another Cena/Rock showdown could be in the works. How will that affect the numbers?
Personally I find myself siding with Cena in this feud. Yes he has gotten stale and “true” wrestling fans get tired of the whole Super-Cena character, but he is making valid and true points about Rock. For a guy who claims to love the business and be in it for the fans, why would Dwayne abandon everyone he loves to go and make mediocre movies? Why should he be out of the spotlight for 9 months, make 2 appearances and be immediately placed in the top draw for the biggest show of the year? Why would anyone believe The Rock has “come home” and “will always be a part of WWE” when he will be back on a movie set immediately after WrestleMania? It will be interesting to see how much this feud escalates in the next month (and possibly longer) and how good the match will actually be when it comes to fruition. The WWE certainly has put a lot of faith in these two to carry the show. I look forward to seeing how it all plays out.
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