Every time The Rock returns to WWE, fans go crazy, the Internet blows up and all seems right with the world.
This time around is no exception. But this time, The Rock is back for a “purpose.”
He’s going to be the next WWE Champion.
Unless you live in an area with no electricity, no TV and no Internet, you know that The Rock will face CM Punk for the WWE title Sunday night at WWE Royal Rumble 2013 in Phoenix. All indications point to The Rock taking the title to April's WrestleMania 29 in East Rutherford, N.J.
That’s where he will lose the belt to John Cena. And that’s where you will see the last of him for a while. A good, long while.
Once again, The Rock’s return means nothing to WWE in the long run.
Don’t believe that? Look at last year.
The Rock came “home” to take care of a certain Fruity Pebble-looking jabroni who was a joke of an entertainer. He did just that in the main event at WrestleMania 28.
Then he was gone.
Three months later, The People's Champion was back to say he would be back later. He announced on Raw’s 1,000th show he would fight for the WWE title, which was then—and now—held by CM Punk.
The Rock launched Punk’s heel turn. Then he was gone again.
He resurfaced earlier this month, armed with his promos and his now-stale Rock Concert.
The odds are very good that The Rock will walk out of Royal Rumble with the WWE title. He will probably defend it at next month’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view in New Orleans and again at WrestleMania 29. In between, he may have a match or two on TV just to "validate" his championship.
After WrestleMania 29, though, he will be gone.
By then, both he and WWE will be satisfied. He will have gotten maximum exposure for himself and his upcoming movies. WWE will be satisfied with the ratings that a superstar of The Rock’s caliber will bring.
But the millions (and millions) of The Rock’s fans will not be satisfied. They will want more.
And they will not get it.
The WWE Creative Team will be forced to once again come up with non-Rock story ideas to appease the masses. Some storylines will succeed; some will fall flat.
Some people call that business as usual for WWE.
Maybe they could treat The Rock like the Undertaker, who appears only once a year at WrestleMania time. But unlike Undertaker, whose body is all but broken from years of battle, The Rock will be off shooting movies and keeping busy on the Hollywood celebrity scene.
Once WrestleMania 29 is over, do you think The Rock will ever return to WWE?
He will be too busy with other things.
You almost can see the correlation between The Rock’s short time in WWE and his movie-shooting schedule.
Being in WWE is like shooting a movie. The Rock shows up, speaks his lines, acts his character and goes home when the shooting wraps.
In this case, the shooting will wrap at WrestleMania 29.
One of the terms people hate to hear tossed around is “transitional champion.” That is someone whose sole goal is to win the title from one person and keep it warm until the person preordained for the title is ready to receive it.
It would be a shame to see The Rock’s solid legacy in WWE tarnished with his obvious last title run being labeled like that.
But the money is the same color whether you hold the title for three months or 434 days. It’s safe to say The Rock is earning as much money for his short time in WWE as many of the full-time stars are receiving. Probably even more.
And after WrestleMania 29, The Rock will take the money and run.
Follow Bill Atkinson on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.