When The Rock and John Cena met at WrestleMania 28 last year, there was a certain magic about the match. We had an icon of WWE’s recent past going against an icon of WWE’s present and future.
Not to mention a year’s worth of hype and build up.
Fast forward to this year. It’s one month before WrestleMania 29, and Rock and Cena are once again standing in the middle of the ring facing off…for the first time.
Had this been last year, Rock and Cena would have faced off for the umpteenth time at the “one month out” point before WWE’s grandest stage. But this is 2013, and it is also the first time Rock and Cena have shared the ring.
Right now, it is hard to get excited about them squaring off this year.
This year’s match seems almost forced, like a “been-there, done-that” atmosphere. It’s as if the men are looking for things to say to each other, unlike last year when they could not say enough.
Rock has not gone on any tirades about Cena’s wardrobe. He has not claimed that Cena has “ladyparts” or mocked his “Five Moves of Doom.”
On the other side, Cena is not claiming Rock is too entrenched in Hollywood to be serious about being back in WWE.
The spicy hype was almost as enjoyable as the match. It set the table for what would be a very good WrestleMania main event.
But this year, I am a little worried. WWE wants to repeat what it had last year, but it waits until we are a month out before we get even the first faceoff between the opponents.
Surely that delay was caused by Rock’s program with CM Punk and the WWE Championship.
There are some who would say that the Rock-Punk feud was part of the build up to Rock-Cena II at WrestleMania 29. That program had to happen in order to make Rock-Cena II seem more intriguing.
I do not doubt that. But I also think WWE needed to have Rock and Cena in the ring together much earlier than now to give the match the edge it deserves.
If for nothing else, it could have been immediately after Royal Rumble, when Rock won the title and Cena won the Rumble contenders’ match. Cena could have done the old “I’m watching you” move on Rock, to let Rock know he would be waiting. He would not have needed to say a word…just walk up to the ring, stare at Rock, give a knowing smile and walk off.
That would have added a new “stalker-type” layer to Cena’s character, which everyone claims is in need of a tune-up. It also would have started building the intrigue for the WrestleMania 29 showdown.
As it stands now, the build-up is going to feel rushed. And rushed work is not always the best work.
Last time around, WWE caught lightning in a bottle for this match. Unless something dynamic happens between Rock and Cena over the next few weeks, the company will wind up catching a lightning bug in a glass jar.
Follow Bill Atkinson on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.