When The Rock returned to the WWE to host WrestleMania 27 in 2011, there was an air of uncertainty surrounding his future with the company.
Some thought he would host WrestleMania and then go away again. Some thought he might work one more match before retiring. Others dreamed that he would return full-time.
Two years later, many fans have gotten their wish. The Rock indeed returned to the ring after an eight-year layoff and has competed in five major pay-per-view matches over the last couple of years.
Ever since The Rock returned to the ring on a part-time basis, though, many have been so swept up in the fact that he was back in the ring in the first place that they’ve failed to even think about when he’ll stop wrestling—for good.
The widespread thought these days seems to be that, because The Rock clearly loves wrestling, he will continue to do so until he decides he no longer wants to.
That was until WrestleMania 29 happened.
A year after The Rock tore his hamstring during his WrestleMania 28 match with John Cena, he suffered another devastating injury, or series of injuries, when he tore his abdominal and abductor muscles—again at WrestleMania and again in a match against Cena.
All jokes about Cena being the kiss of death for The Rock aside, it’s time to start seriously considering whether or not The Rock’s days in the WWE are numbered. Scratch that—it’s time to seriously consider whether The Rock’s days in the ring are over.
The assumption that The Rock is going to be around for years to come is a misguided one, especially when you realize that he had remained noncommittal to working WrestleMania 30 next year even before he was injured at WrestleMania 29.
The Rock told the AP just before WrestleMania that he “hasn’t decided” whether or not he’d work WrestleMania 30. Though he may or may not have been working the reporter here, you have to wonder if there was more to what The Rock said.
He’s had a hellacious schedule over the last couple of years as he’s tried to balance both wrestling and acting, which is, of course, easier said than done. All you have to do is follow The Rock’s Twitter account to see that the man never stops—going from wrestling show to workout to red carpet premiere to being on-set week after week, month after month.
Despite all the glitz and glamour that come along with being one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, it’s not an easy life that The Rock leads. In fact, many wonder when one of the hardest working guys in entertainment can even find time to sleep.
Of course, the juggling act of spending half his time wrestling and half his time acting has become a big burden on The Rock. Clearly, he’s got the passion for pro wrestling, but everyone knows that it’s in Hollywood where The Rock is going to earn more money.
Even though he’s paid handsomely by the WWE, it’s the movies that put 10s of millions of dollars in The Rock’s pockets and make him one of the highest-paid stars in all of entertainment.
You have to wonder at what point the risks involved with pro wrestling begin to outweigh the benefits of it, and you have to wonder if being an actor and an actor only is the best route for The Rock.
The Rock doesn’t “need” the money that he’s getting paid by the WWE, but one could argue that he feels like he “needs” the WWE in his life. After all, wrestling in front of 80,000 people gives him a thrill that he can’t get on a movie set or in front of a green screen.
It’s performing in front of the millions—and millions—of fans that seems to be motivating The Rock the most, and you have to respect him for that. You also have to wonder, though, if he’s crazy for being willing to risk getting injured when he’s in the ring even though he knows that could put a huge damper on his movie career.
How many more matches will The Rock have in the WWE?
The Rock recently revealed on Twitter that he would forego surgery on the injuries he suffered at WrestleMania 29 in favor of rehab. Why? Because having surgery would delay the filming of his next movie, Hercules.
That’s the risk The Rock runs every time he steps into the ring.
The Rock isn’t 25 years old anymore. Despite being in tremendous shape, his body simply can’t handle some of the things it would have been able to handle 10 or 15 years ago. He’s 40 now, and even though he looks better now than he ever has, it’s very apparent that he’s not as durable as he once was—two straight WrestleMania matches with two straight major injuries prove that.
Although The Rock is gutting through these latest injuries like only he could, when you pile injuries on top of injuries, they begin to add up at some point. “The People’s Champ” has undoubtedly reached that point.
He’s destroyed his body for the WWE over the last couple of years, and with a busy movie career that is more lucrative and less physically demanding, he just may be thinking to himself: “Hmm. Maybe it’s not worth the risk anymore.”
It wouldn’t be at all surprising to see The Rock back in the WWE ring one day because of love of the sport and his unparalleled worth ethic. But on the flip side, it wouldn’t be totally shocking if he revealed that his career is over or was about to end, either.
The Rock may be a beast, but even the biggest beasts have to hang up their boots one day. For The Rock, that day may come sooner than anyone could have imagined.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!