Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson made his grand return to wrestling last month and immediately helped imbue WWE’s stagnant flagship show with a freshness and excitement it has been sorely lacking over the past few months.
Every time he struts out to the ring, he emanates an overwhelming charisma and presence that everyone else on the roster lacks. He comes off as a true superstar, something rare in wrestling these days.
The viewers overwhelmingly think so, too, going by Raw’s recent ratings (via TvByTheNumbers).
WWE has also benefited hugely from Rock’s profile in the mainstream, most notably, when Rock appeared in an uproarious milk commercial at this past Sunday’s Superbowl.
Yes, the WWE Champion was featured in a prominent role in one of the most widely-watched sporting events of the year. What a coup for the company.
This is one reason WWE desperately needs the Hollywood star. Not even Cena, their No. 1 full-time star, has anything close to the same level of fame and recognition that Rock does. Rock can help WWE garner more attention outside of the wrestling industry than they ever have before.
Interestingly, per a recent report from PWTorch, many in the locker room are irritated by Rock’s presence on WWE television, with some wrestlers feeling he is back simply to promote his upcoming film (his new movie, Fast Six, comes out soon). There are also claims that some of the wrestlers feel “The Great One” is not in adequate ring shape.
The star has previously battled resentment backstage during his return in 2012, as he noted himself on The Rock vs. John Cena: Once in a Lifetime DVD (via WrestlingInc).
These reported criticisms of Rock seem unfair, if true.
First of all, why would Rock even need to use pro wrestling to promote his films?
As part of the money-making Fast and the Furious franchise, it’s not like Fast Six isn’t going to do blockbuster numbers anyway. Hey, the film even had its own ad at the Superbowl. Rock doesn’t have to appear in WWE to boost its profile; it’s going to do well regardless.
And, come on, Rock rocketed to Hollywood’s A list over the past decade without WWE’s help. Why does he suddenly need them now?
Is the reported criticism of Rock within WWE fair?
The accusation that The Rock is not performing well as a wrestler is also rather absurd.
Come on, the man is 40 and, sans the occasional appearance, has been away from wrestling for more than a decade. You can hardy expect him to come back and work marathon main events with hardly any trouble whatsoever.
Besides, his bout with CM Punk at the Royal Rumble was very good, despite his cardio issues.
If anyone on the roster is giving him an icy reception backstage they desperately need a reality check.
Frankly, Rock is doing WWE a huge favour by agreeing to be a part of its television once again. He doesn’t need the money; he doesn’t need the air-time. WWE is getting way more out of him than vice-versa. The sooner the disgruntled wrestlers in the company realize this, the better.