The Rock and John Cena squared off in the first installment of promo exchanges leading up to WrestleMania 29.
Their point-counterpoint segment has been celebrated in many wrestling circles. Benjamin Tucker of the PWTorch said of the segment:
They didn't act like five-year-olds trying to make the other look bad, and they hardly resorted to sophomoric jokes. Both men stated that they wanted to win and it seemed like they meant it. Mission accomplished.
Like the Punk-Rock mini-saga, Cena and Rock seemed to be solely concerned with selling a pay-per-view and not themselves. Their dedication to a hyped WrestleMania rematch obviously should be better for business.
But didn't last year's record-breaking numbers suggest otherwise?
Sure, it was uncomfortable and somewhat discouraging to see two megastars resort to petty playground tactics while promoting a staged fight. But the sense of legitimate animosity added a dynamic that kept their feud fresh through the tail end of a yearlong buildup.
Some fans groaned at the fact that the WrestleMania XXVIII main event was announced one year in advance. But the discussion quickly changed once Cena and Rock began swinging their microphones, aiming below the belt.
Fans took sides as mounting tensions transcended to the Internet. It was Hollywood vs. WWE. Superstar vs. movie star. Team Rocky vs. Team Cena.
Members of Team Rocky adopted a conspiratorial tone, insisting that Cena's sudden edge on the mic was a work. Said B/R reader Delyan T:
This is the thing about Cena, he is winning these promos, because Vince wants him so badly to get over with the crowd and Wrestlemania. Not because he has the skills, innovation or improv skills to come up with his own material, but because WWE is putting him in the position to get over.
Cena supporters, like B/R reader Royce Ezekiel Remorca, begged to differ:
It's funny how many people are on edge along with their Idol Dwayne Johnson, everyone insisting it's a work just to let the Rock keep on having his invincible gleam. Rock sucks.
It all led to the highest-grossing pay-per-view event in pro wrestling history in WrestleMania XXVIII. This was due in most part to the star power of The Rock and John Cena in a novel showdown.
But given the outstanding pay-per-view figures posted by WrestleMania XXVIII, it's hard to argue with the pre-match formula of Egomania.
Cena-Rock II at WrestleMania 29 may see a drop off in buyrate simply because of viewer fatigue. But should a potential drop-off in WrestleMania buys be sizable, one would be remiss if they didn't also wonder if the pettiness from last year worked.
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