WWE: Why the Rock vs. Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 29 Would Make a Great Story
A major story of late has been Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson not categorically denying that his WrestleMania 29 match (it is already confirmed he will have a match of some sort) will be against returning former WWE, NFL and UFC star Brock Lesnar.
Johnson implied it is possible, and a Lesnar return has been pondered by WWE fans ever since Lesnar's UFC retirement - he seems done with NFL and UFC, leaving him in need of some kind of revenue-maker.
A one-off WrestleMania match would be logical, and there are very few men of the calibre required to participate in a match against Lesnar. The only other choices being suggested are The Undertaker and Steve Austin. Austin's not even with WWE right now, and personally I think Lesnar's heavy-handed style would be a danger for Taker's aging body.
At present, as the fight is just being speculated about, debate is focussed on whether it would be good or bad booking by WWE.
Supporters have pointed towards Lesnar's MMA credentials, as it is always great at improving public perception of professional wrestling when "real" athletes are involved (Kurt Angle and Mark Henry are the best known examples of this).
Both Lesnar and Rock remain huge stars and draws in their own right, and are young enough that they can "still go" (question marks remain over Steve Austin's physical condition, and if the rumoured return of Shawn Michaels occurs next year, it will mark a full three years since his last match).
Detractors, in turn, look at how both men are no longer active, regular wrestlers, and would not be putting over a deserving star who could do with the help, and are undeserving of the honour themselves.
Recent Raw ratings and the Survivor Series buyrate has shown that The Rock is not the goldmine of commercial appeal he once was, while Lesnar left UFC having lost his previous two matches, taking significantly away from his standing as a formidable opponent.
It should be noted that "Brock vs. Rock" has happened before, when both men were active wrestlers, at SummerSlam 2002.
However, I think the area fans have ignored is just how much promo material the two men's real lives result in.
We're meant to be in the "Reality Era," right?
WWE seems not as focused on that idea as much as it was, so maybe not.
Personally, I still think the Awesome Truth conspiracy angle should have concluded with a fight against The Undertaker, the man who epitomises all that is hard to credibly believe about pro-wrestling.
My slightly insane, unpopular ideas aside, it is still something they can market and make use of.
WWE has tried so hard to market The Rock as having a dual identity as "Dwayne Johnson," so things are already set up nicely.
Let's at things the king of in-ring promos, The Rock, might want to comment on about Lesnar:
* Brock Lesnar lost his last two UFC matches - he is a loser. Meanwhile, The Rock has become a huge star.
* Brock abandoned WWE, while WWE supported The Rock's movie career while he was an active wrestler.
* The Rock earned his stripes with WWE, wrestling full time from 1996-2003. Brock's career was far shorter (2002-2004).
* Brock bad-mouthed WWE after he left, while The Rock remained loyal to the company, remaining semi-regularly on WWE television in 2004, making one-off appearances in 2007, 2008 and 2009, involved semi-regularly since 2011
Now, let us look at Lesnar, and what he can say about The Rock:
* At least Lesnar was honest with fans about how he felt about WWE. The Rock has been doing his best to convince people he is still the People's Champion. John Cena, CM Punk and a significant portion of the WWE Universe do not believe him.
* Lesnar went on to competitive sport. The Rock went into acting - he became "fake"
* The Rock has starred in some pretty poor movies (a point Cena has been unable to really do much work on because of his own movie career).
* The Rock is significantly older than Lesnar - with WM28 being touted as the "end of an era." Lesnar could suggest the Attitude Era is over, and that means so too is Rock's time. Lesnar is one of the few post-Attitude era men able to claim being a true legend of the WWE (by my count, there is him, Orton and Cena, with Batista just beneath the three men in terms of popularity).
* Lesnar won their last encounter, and also took away The Rock's "youngest-ever WWE champion" accolade.
* Lesnar did it all in a few years. When he left, he was at the top of the mountain - The Rock took forever to achieve that which he coveted most (beating Austin at WrestleMania).
Interestingly, both men beat Hulk Hogan in 2002 - the match with Rock was seen as the biggest match of all time when it happened.
I'd be interested to see how he'd react if Lenar points out he did it the very same year, but on regular WWE television, because for him the match was about beating Hogan, not doing it on WrestleMania under the bright lights and big audience.
That is just one example of the sort of information that could trickle out during promos.
There is a ton of ammunition for both men, who represent the pinnacle of achievement in sports (Lesnar) and entertainment (Rock).
One gives the people what they want, the other is more proven in competitive events. That's a fascinating combination.
A collision between reality (Lesnar) and "phony pretend sports" (Rock).
We could even see the king of sports-entertainment (Vince McMahon) feuding with Lesnar's manager, Paul Heyman, too.
McMahon has always tried to push the "entertainment" side of WWE first, so to have him champion a Hollywood star with a fast mouth would be logical, while Heyman's history as the man who put ECW on the map - a much more brutal form of wrestling, often at the time suspected of being more "real" than WWE (remember the rumours that ECW wrestlers sometimes died in matches?!).
Heyman and McMahon have a far more interesting, complex history than Lesnar and Rock do with each other, and any excuse to see that revisited would be intriguing.
McMahon would need a champion though, as he is too old for this to result in a match in which he actually participates.
Just listen to the WWE '12 trailer featuring Lesnar, which specifically references the match against The Rock - it seems almost intentional, setting up a feud of this kind.
There is gold here in terms of promo material. Something The Rock can make great use of, and something the less-skilled Lesnar could use to make the feud easier to sell.
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