Return of the Rock: The People's Champion's WWE Schedule Revealed
SEScoops has a fairly detailed list of appearances in an article, which I subsequently cross-checked with a number of other major sources to confirm. The list does not include every appearance included on WWE's own list however, presumably because WWE keeps announcing more appearances by The Rock every day, making it hard to keep track.
I have combined the two lists to create this more complete set of appearances and scouted the internet for any additional ones.
The Rock's WWE Schedule (as of December 27th, 2012)
- January 7th Tampa, Florida (Raw)
- January 11th Miami, Florida (SmackDown)
- January 21st San Jose, California (Raw)
- January 25th Sacramento, California (SmackDown)
- January 27th Phoenix, Arizona (Royal Rumble)
- January 28th Las Vegas, Nevada (Raw)
- February 17th New Orleans, Louisiana (Elimination Chamber)
- February 18th Lafayette, Louisiana (Raw)
- April 7th East Rutherford, New Jersey (WrestleMania XXIX)
SmackDown is of course taped on a Tuesday despite going out on a Friday. The dates listed above are when the shows will be broadcast, as most of WWE's audience for televised shows comes in the form of watchers at home, not live crowds.
This is simply a list of confirmed dates. It is very likely that The Rock will have numerous more appearances announced for March. At the very least, I am certain he will appear at the go-home Raw for WrestleMania XXIX, but it is likely he will appear on several episodes of Raw that month.
What This Means for The Rock
The Rock's schedule is far more packed than most fans anticipated he would have time for or be willing to make. The total listed above will see The Rock appearing five times in January, and three times in February.
This Road to WrestleMania will see The Rock taking on a workload comparable to what Shawn Michaels undertook for most of his second run with the company. Michaels used to appear on Raw, pay-per-views and on some international tours but rarely wrestled at house shows or on SmackDown, taking frequent breaks to stay at home with his family for months at a time.
Given how controversial The Rock's occasional one-off appearances have been, hopefully more fans will be satisfied with this Michaels-esque schedule The Rock is taking on.
Many fans are predicting The Rock will win the WWE Championship from CM Punk at the Royal Rumble. If this is the case, what will he do during these numerous appearances? Is it possible we will see him wrestle on free television? I would hesitate to call this likely, but this number of dates in The Rock's calendar leads me to believe it is possible. Defending the title a few times on TV would certainly legitimise The Rock as a champion to the many detractors of his part-time schedule.
I have always been a defender of The Rock, who has repeatedly defied fan expectations since his return in February 2011. At first fans said he would come back for WrestleMania XXVII but never wrestle again. Then the standard IWC line became "he's going to wrestle at WrestleMania XXVIII but then leave."
Even after he was announced for Survivor Series 2011, the prediction was that WrestleMania XXVIII would be the end of the line for The Rock, where he would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in his home state of Florida. When the Royal Rumble match for the WWE Championship was announced, the most-recent IWC perspective became "he will win the title then not appear again until WrestleMania." I am pleased to see this is not the case, though it does seem that whatever WWE and The Rock tries, fans will not be satisfied.
What This Means for the WWE Championship
Firstly, if The Rock is going to continue appearing this regularly up until WrestleMania, it becomes very conceivable that he will win the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble. WWE's biggest concern about that idea has been having no WWE Champion around for several months if The Rock continued to only appear very rarely. I now see it as almost guaranteed he will win the title.
Secondly, the WWE has an internal rule that world titles must be defended at least once every 30 days. It can be off television on a house show, but there must be some record of a title defence every 30 days. There is a gap of more than 30 days between Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania XXIX. If, as many fans anticipate, The Rock is WWE Champion from the Royal Rumble through to WrestleMania, will he defend the title somewhere in that time frame? Who would that title defence be against?
With full-timers it is usually easy to just sneak it in to a house show if necessary to keep the title defence out of TV storylines. I would not be surprised if WWE ignores this rule and saves The Rock's title defences for PPVs, but it is an interesting thought that we might see a title defence on Raw between Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania.
Huge Boost for SmackDown
In 2011 and 2012 WWE's main big-name, part-time, special-attraction stars used to sell PPVs, drive ratings up and sell tickets have been The Undertaker, The Rock, Triple H, Brock Lesnar, Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels (yes I know Michaels is retired, but he appears more than The Undertaker and I feel sure he has a significant impact on tickets/buyrates/ratings).
With the exception of Triple H and Vince McMahon, all of the men named above have exclusively appeared on Raw in that time. Even Triple H features far more frequently on Raw than SmackDown.
McMahon recently appeared on SmackDown to announce Booker T as the show's new GM in August, but this was his first appearance on the show in two years and he has not been seen since. In my last article I discussed at length that WWE puts too much focus on Raw, and it is well documented that SmackDown ticket sales have been down. Could this be the start of a revival for the Blue Brand?
The use of Raw as the show where the big names would occasionally show up was among the few surviving elements of the brand split on television. This marks another push towards the two shows essentially merging into one entity.
Despite the frequent SmackDown appearances by The Rock, he is surprisingly not being advertised for the 20th anniversary edition of Raw. You would expect him to be a lock-in for this show, which is sure to see a ratings spike.
How Does This Compare with The Rock's Movie Release Schedule?
All release dates are for the USA and are taken from IMDB.
- February 22nd: Snitch
- March 29th: G.I. Joe: Retaliation
- April 26th: Pain and Gain
- May 26th: Fast & Furious 6
- June 10th: Empire State
The Rock's current run of WWE appearances seem to conclude a few days before Snitch is released. Hopefully he will continue to make regular appearances. Surely if he is built back into the focal point of WWE's product for that period of time it will work excellently to market the films? We will wait and see.
Please leave any feedback you have about this article in the feedback box below. Are you happy to see The Rock scheduled to appear more often in 2013? Does this make you more enthusiastic about his potential WWE Championship reign? Is this a sign that WWE is serious about reviving SmackDown's popularity?
Leave comments below or follow me on Twitter: @TheRamblingElf.
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