First, PWInsider.com has announced that The Rock will appear live on Raw on January 14th, at Raw's 20th Anniversary Show. This should surprise very few people, as it is sure to be a special show with WWE making extra effort to make sure some special faces make appearances to commemorate the occasion.
Secondly, the Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, Arkansas has announced that The Rock will be appearing on SmackDown on February 12th, which will be aired on TV on February 15th.
This also is a logical place for The Rock to appear, as it will be the go-home show for Elimination Chamber—where The Rock has been announced to appear and where he is rumoured to even be competing, potentially defending the WWE Championship inside an Elimination Chamber match.
Thirdly, and absolutely no surprise at all, The Rock has been announced for the go-home Raw before WrestleMania on WWE.com.
Here is the complete, updated WWE schedule for The Rock in 2013, so far:
- January 7th Tampa, Florida (Raw)
- January 11th Miami, Florida (SmackDown)
- January 14th Houston, Texas (Raw 20th anniversary)
- January 21st San Jose, California (Raw)
- January 25th Sacramento, California (SmackDown)
- January 27th Phoenix, Arizona (Royal Rumble)
- January 28th Las Vegas, Nevada (Raw)
- February 15th Little Rock, Arkansas (SmackDown)
- February 17th New Orleans, Louisiana (Elimination Chamber)
- February 18th Lafayette, Louisiana (Raw)
- April 1st Washington, D.C. (Raw)
- April 7th East Rutherford, New Jersey (WrestleMania XXIX)
Please note the dates given are for TV broadcasts not tapings. SmackDown is of course filmed three days before it airs, on a Tuesday.
I anticipate many more dates being added in March in the buildup to WrestleMania XXIX. Also, I would not be surprised to also see The Rock appear at the WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony on April 6th, perhaps to induct friend and former tag team partner Mick Foley into the Hall of Fame. Updates will be posted on Bleacher Report as I receive them.
It is quite surprising to see The Rock now appearing at three SmackDown tapings. I shudder to think how much these appearances are costing WWE and hope they pay off. The Rock causes huge ratings spikes when he appears on TV, but in the 2011-12 buildup to his appearance at WrestleMania 28 against John Cena, there was a notable drop off in the ratings as his appearances between more frequent.
The Rock remains a huge draw, but WWE may be hoping to see a more sustained rise in TV ratings than The Rock is capable of delivering.
On a more positive note however, this can be taken as a huge sign that WWE is really serious about pushing SmackDown again. The company's strong focus on Raw has long been harming the Blue Brand, and every appearance announced by The Rock for SmackDown will be a huge help to it.
Having The Rock appear on SmackDown three times is frequent enough that many viewers could add SmackDown to their regular Friday night schedule afterwards, increasing the long-term viewership of the show.
Hopefully, The Rock's appearance at the 20th anniversary of Raw is a sign that WWE will be bringing in some famous wrestlers from Raw's history. There have already been rumours leaking out that the WWE plans to bring in some celebrities who made special appearances on some of the earliest episodes of Monday Night Raw, but we have received little word about any WWE Legends appearing.
WWE has had an increased focus on "Legend" wrestlers recently, and as the Raw 20th anniversary show comes from Houston, Texas, it would be very surprising if we did not see appearances from locals Stone Cold Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels, who both live less than a three hour drive from the venue.
Whoever WWE can coerce into making an appearance, it promises to be a special edition of Monday Night Raw.
There is little to say about The Rock appearing at the Raw before WrestleMania. I do not think this is surprising news to many of us.
Leave comments below or follow me on Twitter: @TheRamblingElf. I would love to know your thoughts about these latest announcements. Or, if you are aware of any additional scheduled appearances by The Rock being announced at a venue near you, comment about it and the article will be amended to include it.