The Rock made his on-screen return to the WWE last year and revealed himself as the official host of Wrestlemania-27. While nearly 60 percent of the WWE fans happily accepted his return to the company, a few fans, including their vocal cord John Cena, had opinions of their own which were pretty different from the rest.
Now that we are a good one year ahead of his return, we still continue to witness the repetition of a few things which were very much talked about both on the forums and in WWE circles.
First things first, the most talked about issue is perhaps that of Rock's loyalty towards the business and how he just turns to the WWE for a payday.
Allow me to make my case.
The Rock debuted in the WWE in 1996 and gained mainstream popularity via the company. He became a household name, got an outlet for his talent and became popular enough to be approached by Hollywood.
From the short case I provided above, one would conclude that The Rock was/is a talented guy who, owing to his run with the WWE, got a podium to showcase his talent to the world. In a way, If The Rock became popular and reached heights he was meant to reach then it was because of the WWE.
Going by the aforementioned logic, one would say that The Rock should be grateful to the WWE. I could agree with that line of thought, but honestly speaking that does not mean that The Rock "owes" anything to the business.
While we continue to heap a lot of praise on the WWE for making Rock a star and call him a sellout, what we do forget is that The Rock has already given it back to the company in form of the highly popular "Attitude Era."
In the very "same" phrase of time where the WWE was acting as The Rock's podium to showcase his talent to the world, The Rock too was very much reciprocating the push that he got by providing us fans with some of the greatest WWE Television we will ever see.
So the question of "owing" anything to the WWE is moot. The Rock had already cleared all his debts with the business way before he left to make his career in Hollywood in 2002-03.
Secondly while we continue to call out The Rock for turning to the WWE for a payday, I say why not?
Its pretty simple, you are "worth" a million dollars, you have people following you worldwide, you sell tickets and make up for the fee you charge, then why won't you ask for the money you deserve?
Simply said, If The Rock asks for a certain sum of money then there is a very good chance that he makes up for it via his ability to sell tickets, merchandise etc.
He is not contributing in the ring, but that debate is very old. We all know that Superstars sell more than the Wrestlers.
If you want to calculate The Rock's worth to the company then do include his contribution made during the Attitude Era, which by the way is pretty priceless.
The Rock, as Stone Cold pointed out, is that big of a star that he can afford to go out and come back at any time he wants.
Moving to the next point, many say that The Rock left for greener pastures while The Rock says that acting was another of his passions.
In all honesty, both of the above statements are absolutely correct.
First of all, I don't see the point in blaming someone for opting to go for an option which will provide him/her the chance to make more money. Of course, respect always comes first in this world and even for me respect ranks way above money but that does not mean that each and every one of us is obligated to the do the same.
Case in point, you can either care about respect and forego the more financially stable job or you can be smart/shallow (depending on each individual's perception) and go for the financially stable option.
Secondly I don't see any point in blaming The Rock for following his passion (that is, one of the two alternatives at hand). One thing which this issue has brought out is perhaps the IWC's hypocrisy in the sense that when Jericho left for Fozzy, no one complained while The Rock got more flak than he deserved.
Of course Jericho came back earlier as compared to The Rock and wanted inspiration to strike, but still The Rock got more flak than he deserved.
So far I have basically supported The Rock. But the truth be told, I don't really support him totally either which brings some degree of legitimacy to what Cena has been saying.
Now I clearly pointed that The Rock does not owe the WWE anything and neither is he obligated to show up every week, but then at the same time seven years is a whole lot of time to show up at least once. I can never be convinced that in his seven year long absence there was not even one single day when he was not busy.
The Rock did not owe anything to the business, but it surely would have been in his best interest (as John Cena said) to show up, raise his eyebrow, say his catchphrases and leave. People can disagree all they want but when you truly love something and it was a huge part of your life some time ago, you should have at least showed up.
Its simple, suppose you have a friend who helped you through college with your math, you learned well and became a well respected Professor. While it is neither your duty nor your obligation to talk to him online or via phone call but you should have the courtesy to at least call him up at times and catch up with him.
Another place where The Rock lost my respect was where he was trying to distance himself from the business. I still remember an article I read in 2007 where "Dwayne Johnson" in response to a reporter's question/online interview said that "The Rock is Dead" and it is none other than Dwayne Johnson the actor who remains.
In fact his movie "Walking Tall" was the last movie in which he went by The Rock. Now again I will repeat my words, Dwayne Johnson wasn't obligated to continue using his name but for The Rock to continue to have my respect, I would have really appreciated had he stuck to his roots. Hence why while I will always respect The Rock for his talent, in person he could never regain that respect.
The Rock has now once again started going by his WWE name, but for that case, he can't have my respect.
Of course it won't matter to him, but then the fact that it doesn't matter to him doesn't matter to me either.
Moving forward to the second part of this article, I will now analyze this angle from what John Cena has been saying.
First and foremost, his thoughts are pretty much resonated by me. Of course I don't agree with him when he feels/makes it appear that The Rock has an obligation but for respect's sake, The Rock should have held true to his roots.
One thing that I have learned about John Cena from this feud is that John Cena is an opportunist. Now before you hurl stones at me, allow me to explain.
Before The Rock made his return to the company around an year ago, John Cena was generally accepted as the most must-see WWE Superstar. The Rock's promo in which he both criticized Cena and showed the fans how he is way above Cena when it comes to entertaining the fans, he also singled out Cena as his biggest enemy.
Now while most of the wrestlers/superstars like Dolph Ziggler and The Miz were busy criticizing The Rock for just walking in like that and getting a major chunk of the spotlight, John Cena realized that he had no other place to go.
Had Cena ignored to be The Rock's biggest foe, obviously someone else would have been given that opportunity and Cena might have been place a rung below The Rock's new rival.
Secondly feuding with The Rock would ensure that Cena had nothing to lose. For one, Cena already was the number one star before The Rock came up. Now when The Rock returned, Cena became second most must see superstar.
Now even if he lost out to The Rock in terms of in ring skills, promo skills etc he would still have maintained status quo. Let's not forget the fact that regardless of his performance against The Rock he would have been marketed to the tee.
Moving over to what he has been saying about The Rock. I have already made my opinions clear about that but looking at things from Cena's perspective, does it really matter what he says as long as he is able to successfully get the crowd talking about it?
Last year The Miz was in optimal position when he was thrown in the mix. For one he was generally accepted as the lesser of the three superstars and hence there were no high hopes from him. He had nothing to lose and he would also get a lot of marketing.
Now that optimal position is occupied by John Cena. There is a very good chance that Cena wants to fight The Rock because he actually wants to fight the great one and not because of any other reason but what this rivalry has done for him is that it has cemented his place among the current veterans and future legends of the business.
One more thing that I learned from this rivalry is perhaps the fact that Cena is a very strong individual who beliefs in himself enough to go and mess with the most popular and most liked WWE Superstar in the present day world.
On the contrary what I noticed from a lot of other talents who moaned about The Rock was perhaps the fact that they saw him as too much of a challenge and hence did not step up to the plate.
Why do you think that John Cena and CM Punk are the only two guys who have taken non-scripted jabs at The Rock which would at least force him to respond to them?
Dolph Ziggler is a great talent and he did rant a bit around April-May last year but got no response from The Rock. Quite frankly he missed the mark there because he didn't quite manage to tick him off like Punk and Cena did. The effort of his part was a bit less.
John Cena feeds of people's reactions, both positive and negative. And what is the worse that can come at Wrestlemania? He loses to The Rock and gets massively booed, but at least that keeps his ship afloat and keeps him popular for years to come.
A reader on one of the wrestling forums described Cena's move of revealing the Rock's wrist notes as desperate. Well from my perspective it was smart because in a cut throat business you can't care about the other guy at all times.
None of the legends did and none of the future superstars will.
One place where I really appreciate Cena is that he has really been able to get the crowd talking. His opinion might be centered around one point which is both perceived as wrong and right by the fans but at the end of the day, he is leaving an impact on their minds.
Furthermore, currently the logical choice is to have Cena win. Of course Cena winning won't turn all fans in his favor but that will be a feather in his cap which is priceless.
We can sit here and talk about who is genuine and who is not and continue to dissect every eerie detail (like myself) but the truth is that those who dare, will dare and do business. In this case The Rock and John Cena.
Who knows maybe Rock and Cena are actually friendly backstage and are not each other's biggest enemies. Us fans have been fooled again and I am glad that we are because had we known everything, we would have not been able to enjoy a history making one year long build up to a match at Wrestlemania.
One has to realize that for once it is Cena going against Cena, In the sense that John Cena for the first time in years is in a situation where he is facing someone who is popular than him. So for the wrestlers who constantly complain about the amount of push that these guys receive, they should sit back and try to see how John Cena (the generally accepted most must see WWE Superstar before The Rock came in) tackled The Great One.
One thing that I learned from The Rock and the young wrestlers should also learn from is that it is not "what" you say, it is "how" you say it. His speech and promo work has been excellent in this rivalry. So while John Cena has been doing the hard work and pressurizing on every important detail, The Rock has been doing the smart work when it comes to cutting promos. There's no replacement to hard work but wrestlers should learn that at times smart work works as well.
As for the WWE, they should learn how competition creates better television. John Cena's work between the time his rivalry with Randy Orton ended (2009) to his rivalry with The Miz was pretty stale and bland. But off late he has been cutting some of his better promos. WWE should understand the need to push stars equally and not just work on increasing Cena's popularity.
To sum my long analysis up, I would like to thank John Cena and The Rock for successfully selling this rivalry to us and would like to congratulate these two individuals for having continued the age old tradition of pro-wrestling in spite of the social networking and spoiler websites staring down at them.
That is what "I" learned from this rivalry, do let me know what you learned via the comment section below. Thanks