The Rock has been back with the WWE on a semi-full-time basis for two weeks and there is no question that he has already become a massive part of the product. He and WWE Champion CM Punk have had two encounters ahead of their match at the Royal Rumble, and The Rock's promo style has been extremely effective thus far.
There are certainly differing opinions when it comes to The Rock's performance on the mic over the past couple weeks, but it's important to look at the big picture. Punk fans largely believe that the WWE Champion beat The Rock soundly on the stick last week and generally seem to find The Rock's style to be juvenile, but that's a very small piece of the pie.
Have you enjoyed The Rock's promo style vs. CM Punk thus far?
The vast majority of wrestling fans love The Rock, and that is the population that he's catering to. The Rock realizes that he can't please everyone, but run-of-the-mill fans enjoy his act. While phrases like "Cookie Puss" infuriate a few, most of the fans in the building went crazy and starting chanting it. The Rock simply knows how to appeal to a crowd.
At the same time, The Rock has gotten serious when needed, so it isn't as if he has been one-dimensional by any means. After cracking jokes at Punk's expense last week, he didn't hesitate to get in his face and ultimately deliver a Rock Bottom. It was a great mix from The Rock, and he certainly did what he had to do.
That carried over to this week on the 20th anniversary edition of Raw. Rather than blasting Punk during his Rock Concert, The Rock focused his attention on Paul Heyman and Vickie Guerrero. The Rock then called out Punk and said very matter-of-factly that nobody had beaten him for the title in 421 days, but he would be the one to do it at the Royal Rumble.
This led to a skirmish between Rock and Punk with referees and backstage personnel breaking it up to close the show. The feud has had a great mix of comedy and seriousness, and that's a testament to the way The Rock has handled himself in promos. As much as I like Punk, he has been the one speaking in one tone while The Rock has been multi-faceted.
The Rock's detractors like to call him sophomoric and predictable on the mic, and while they're entitled to their opinion, The Rock is doing what he has to do. I'm sure that The Rock and Punk could have some great, intense, serious promos between now and the Royal Rumble, but the problem is that most fans want more than that out of The Rock.
He has always been sarcastic and funny, so it wouldn't make much sense for him to abandon that now. The Rock isn't going to pretend like he's something that he isn't in order to cater to Punk's promo style. People have a certain expectation when it comes to what The Rock is going to deliver on the mic, and he has lived up to it, but he hasn't hesitated to get in Punk's face either.
Truth be told, if the shoe was on the other foot and Punk was playing the face role, there's no doubt that he would be catering to the fans and cracking jokes at The Rock's expense as well. Punk was serious at times when he was a face, but he was constantly looking for a joke pop from the fans too, so it isn't as if Punk is above The Rock's promo style.
There is always going to be bias in professional wrestling, but an overhead perspective of the Punk vs. The Rock feud shows that both men have played their respective roles perfectly to this point. The elitist view against The Rock's promo style is disappointing because the fact of the matter is that the people who love it far outweigh the people who hate it.
The Rock is worried about the millions and millions who enjoy him more than he is the thousands who bash him. The Rock has to firmly establish himself as the fan favorite in this feud in order to ensure that it's better than the convoluted Rock vs. John Cena feud was, and I have no doubt that it ultimately will be.