Is the Rock welcome in WWE?
On paper, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson returning to WWE looks like great news.
Heck, after less than a month back, the new WWE Champion has proven he can draw big ratings (via TVByTheNumbers) and revive interest in a floundering WWE product.
From a creative standpoint, Rock is also at his best. His promo skills remain as fantastic as ever, with even personable CM Punk looking out of his depth during their promos together.
Unlike Hulk Hogan or Ric Flair, Rock's star power and intense charisma have not faded as the years have gone by. If anything, he's grown even more magnetic and compelling with time.
OK, so his in-ring skills have been a little patchy, with his lengthy title match against CM Punk at the Royal Rumble being greatly hindered by "The Great One" looking noticeably out of breath at points. But still, all things considered, his return can be considered a huge success.
So, how could there possibly be any problems?
Well, over at PWTorch.com, it is noted that there is lingering resentment of Rock in the WWE locker room, stemming from issues with his cardio. Additionally, there is a feeling that he is simply using the company as a platform on which to promote his upcoming films:
At the Rumble, there was some resentment toward Rock because they felt he was not in great ring shape for his first match back in WWE. Now there's pressure on Rock to come back at the Elimination Chamber in two weeks in better cardio condition... another source of locker room resentment is the feeling that Rock is using his planned WWE Title run as a marketing tool for his movie career.
The Torch also noted that Rock has become isolated from the locker room since he came back:
Rock is said to have no allies from the current locker room. Rock has isolated himself behind-the-scenes, which is due to how he feels he's been treated since returning to WWE and so that he can tend to other business affairs. But, there are also stories of how Rock has gone out of his way to talk to wrestlers and offer advice. It's a touchy situation, almost on a case-by-case basis how certain wrestlers receive him, which has led to mixed feelings about Rock's presence in WWE...Rock senses it. According to backstage sources, Rock feels like he's being scrutinized by the current locker room
For the record, it is also noted by the Torch that Rock recently posted the following tweet on his official account, which may or may not have been dripping with irony:
It's difficult to know what to make of all this.
It's unfortunate to think that the locker room is not grateful for Rock's recent contributions, but considering the often petty nature of the business, it's probably not surprising.
Indeed, this is hardly the first time Rock has been on the receiving end of locker room resentment. As WrestlingInc noted, the star spoke of his annoyance about the heat on him in the John Cena vs. Rock: Once in a Lifetime DVD last year.
In an interview with the PWTorch (via WrestlingInc) around WrestleMania time, former WWE writer Seth Mates put it all down to childishness and jealousy over Rock's success in films. He was probably spot on.
Let's be honest: The Rock is one of Hollywood's biggest movie stars. He makes millions per film. Wrestling needs him a whole lot more than he needs it. You'd like to think people in WWE would be doing everything possible to make him feel welcome.