When the less-than-stellar rating came in for the March 5 episode of RAW, many had to wonder if "The Great One" still had his undeniable connection with the audience.
While he's still shown the ability to hold the fans' emotions in the palm of his hand inside an arena, a 3.1 rating indicates that The Rock is no longer the sure-fire business hit he was in 1999-2001.
This past week's number is even more disappointing when one takes into account that last year's March 7 edition of RAW garnered a 3.92 rating—a difference of nearly one million viewers.
Given the fact that in March 2011, The Rock was, like this year, a key component of the WrestleMania hype train, why is it that his pull with the fan base has seemingly weakened so much?
According to The Wrestling Observer Newsletter (via 411Mania.com), it's a question being asked by the majority of WWE officials and performers:
After last week's Raw featuring the Rock's live return did a 3.1 rating, a lot of people were talking about what that might mean. The rating has a lot of people talking since the Rock's return was heavily hyped and didn't have a lot of pay-off. People were expecting a much higher number.
Undoubtedly, backstage personnel have to be stumped by the ratings revelation, because if The Rock can't shore up business, then who can?
But in order to arrive at the root of the problem, they should be asking themselves what has changed over the last year.
On the surface, The Rock is an even bigger household name today, has yet to oversaturate his marketing potential and is in the final gear of his feud with John Cena.
However, instead of heating up like it should be, the WWE's business has been cooling down to alarming levels.
Who's to blame?
Is it the creative team, which has booked The Rock to cut 30-minute promos about practically nothing and look inferior face-to-face with John Cena? Surely, the message that "The Brahma Bull" is all sizzle and no steak could have tired the fans' patience.
On the flip side, could it be Dwayne Johnson himself who is at fault? Could it be that he hasn't been "bringing it" to the level he used to during his peak years?
Or more realistically, could it be that today's younger fans have trouble identifying with his character? After all, one had to be around during the Attitude Era to "get" The Rock's transformation from blue chipper to "The People's Champion."