Less than 24 hours ago, a fabled hero of yesteryear—The Rock—returned to Monday Night Raw after a seven-year absence.
I won't lie. I was extremely excited to see him back—a lot of us were. However, despite entertaining wrestling fans the best way he knows how, I found myself asking questions and having critical issues with some of the things he said and did.
Let's break down some of the highlights and please keep in mind, they may not be in chronological order. The moment's a bit blurry in my mind, but here are some of the main things I remember that deserve the analysis of one of the few people who's choosing NOT to approach this situation like a yipping fanboy.
A chunk was bleeped out!
I'm not sure if this happened where you all live, but on my TV, near the beginning of his long speech, where he reintroduced himself to both long-time fans and newer/younger fans, a long section was muted out. Both my fiancee and I were confused, as neither of us could figure out exactly what he'd said to bring on such treatment.
However, in a grand act of inconsistency, the censors must've looked at each other and said, "Ya know, I remember watching this guy years ago. Yeah, if we need to bleep words like 'ass' because this is a PG show, we might as well not even bother."
Sure enough, they did indeed stop bothering, as nothing else during his promo was bleeped out. Before anyone says it, this does NOT suggest an end to PG TV.
Instead, it suggests the same thing I've been saying for months and months: Perhaps WWE will ease up a little on what they bleep and what they don't bleep.
Incidentally, I'm very curious about how people feel regarding John Cena's tweet after he said "ass" weeks ago on the show. He tweeted, "Don't worry, guys, I've already been fined, sorry for cursing!"
If Cena was fined for saying "ass" one time, The Rock must've taken a severe tongue-lashing backstage and might host Wrestlemania for free!
Or maybe John was lying. Just like CM Punk said, Cena's a liar.
His promise, like an ex-lover, "I'll never leave you again."
The speech also involved a brief moment when The Rock removed his sunglasses and spoke, "as Dwayne." He addressed fans and told us all why he came back.
It wasn't for the money. It wasn't to promote his new movie. It was for us.
Well, you see, I have a problem with that. I understand he wanted to distance himself from the wrestling business so that he could establish himself as Dwayne Johnson, as opposed to his onscreen wrestling character of The Rock. However, he could've come back, hosted three or four Wrestlemanias and been back on set to shoot within a day, all without wrestling.
Then, once the sunglasses were back on, he claimed that he would "never go away again." I'll grant you, I never remember Austin making such a promise, but in the interests of fairness and good business practices, I sincerely hope that The Rock makes good on that.
It's been a long time since we've seen him on WWE television and enjoyed all his catchphrases and such, however if he's going to make a promise like that, then disappear for another year and only come back to host Wrestlemania 28? I can do without him.
Shot at The Miz
The Rock wouldn't be our beloved Peoples' Champion if he didn't shoot down other superstars. This much I expected the very second his music hit. I knew once he was done with the politeness, the sincerity and the pleasantries, that he'd be getting right back into the groove of being "the most electrifying man in (sports) entertainment." Notice, he removed the sports part.
One of the names he shot down was The Miz. Now, I'm not a Miz worshipper like Michael Cole, however I acknowledge Miz's value. Thing is, for a classic wrestler and a likely candidate to be inducted into some class of the WWE Hall of Fame, to devalue the current WWE Champion, in not only bad economic times but bad times for the company itself, I consider to be a really bad move.
The Miz has been desperate for people to respect him at every step. He even beat Bryan, his biggest nemesis of the past year, CLEAN! Not an ounce of help from Riley, the Divas, Nexus, nobody.
He beat Bryan, respected by most fans as one of the most talented young stars WWE has ever featured and The Miz not only beat him clean as a whistle, but reminded us of how physically practical the Skullcrushing Finale is. And what does he get for his effort?
The Rock completely crapping all over it.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the majority of The Rock's promo speech. However, for him to actually stand there and say, "Anyone who has to go around proclaiming how great they are, probably sucks," sounded ridiculously hypocritical to me.
The man made his entire wrestling career by coming up with nickname after nickname to proclaim how great he was. Granted, he was a way bigger star than Miz currently is and has won more championships, but as Miz's biggest push is basically just starting, where do they get off letting The Rock say things like that?
He is not only being a hypocrite, but he is making the guy with a pretty considerable portion of the spotlight on him once again look foolish?
In my opinion, a bad business decision.
Shots at John Cena
Now, if Rock redeemed himself at all, it was during his time picking apart John Cena.
First of all, even just his mention of John's name, as a guy that he's had his eye (and subsequently raised eyebrow) on, took me by surprise.
Secondly, his ongoing use of vulgarity bled into his taking John down a few notches, and was way more well-deserved.
To take a page out of Wade Barrett's current playbook, shortly before he formed what we know as The Core, he said that when he arrived on Raw with Nexus, he wanted to take down the biggest prey he could. By joining SmackDown and challenging Big Show, he did the same thing.
Guys like Rock and Austin were known for doing the same.
Austin's biggest foe, by far, was Vincent Kennedy McMahon. Chairman of the Board, the Big Boss (not to be confused with Metal Gear Solid's version of Big Boss, though their war-mongering and iron fists, I suppose, are reminiscent of each other). Rock's had any number of enormous obstacles, but they've all been huge.
John Cena's batch of rivals during his last few runs as WWE Champion have NOT been men he couldn't beat. Thus, for Rock to poke fun at John Cena, with his colorful shirts and his outlandish merchandise, was not only entertaining, but well-deserved.
Despite his "five moves of doom" proving less and less effective in recent months, Cena has bulldozed over basically everyone on both rosters. He needs a heel turn more than anything, but if we can't count on a heel turn coming in the near future, we can at the very least hope that Rock's words struck a chord with John and he addresses the man face-to-face.
You know, like he claims to enjoy doing with everyone else?
Shots at Michael Cole
This should've been expected, as Cole takes a lot of heat on the chin and responds in kind most of the time.
Rock claimed he would take the GM's computer, shine it up real nice, turn it sideways—and, well, you know the rest.
During Rock's bashing of Cole, the GM email noise rang through the arena and of course, Michael Cole wanted to read what he had to say, perhaps expecting the GM to come to his defense and throw his power around to punish The Rock. Rock, obviously, did not let him read the sent email, however I don't think I'm the only one curious about what was going to be said.
Regardless, this was a fun section and I'm glad Cole caught some flak, as he's usually the one firing it out. If anyone could put a guy like Cole in his place, even for a brief moment, it's Rock.
All in all, Rock's appearance went off very positively. Despite my remembering far louder pops for him back in the day than he got last night, things went fairly smoothly on his first night back in a long time. Barring that brief period he returned as an egomaniacal Hollywood jerk, he basically picked up right where his legend left off.
He spewed all the favorite catchphrases, got the crowd going like they hadn't gone in years and didn't discriminate between heels and faces, taking shots at both.
While I do think his approach should have been a bit more careful, as the last thing Miz needs is even more people believing he can't succeed, it may not cause damage too massive for him to survive.
I sincerely hope and pray that Cena takes the time to address The Rock's remarks, and at Wrestlemania, we get some closure to the situation.
We've read plenty of reports on this very website to suggest that The Rock has no intention of returning to wrestle part-time, full-time, or any time, thus making me seriously doubt his promise of never going away again. However, with both The Rock and John Cena easily being big parts of Wrestlemania 27, one thing is clear—even if to no one else but me.
If John Cena's character is ever going to evolve from the fun-loving, babyface hero that has hurt ratings, turned away older fans and made WWE a stale, overly predictable product to watch on a weekly basis, his window for an epic heel swerve at Wrestlemania seems to be cracking open a bit wider.
Simple fact: Rock is a fan favorite, a huge force during his time. John Cena, although extremely popular and the current face of the company, has thousands of haters, detractors and critics. If he were to not only take Rock's words seriously, but take physical action against him?
Rock would be the face. Cena would be the heel.
Here is perhaps another factor, or set of factors: Barrett set a stipulation for Survivor Series last year, that if Cena were to crown Barrett as the WWE Champion, taking the belt off Orton in the process, Cena would be relieved of his duties to Nexus. Cena chose Option B, siding with Orton and sacrificing "his job."
He was later rehired after very little effort on Cena's part and if memory serves, the only reason he's not in Nexus anymore is because he lost his job.
Seems there may be a loophole there.
Also to consider: When CM Punk took control of Nexus, Cena was Punk's first target. While the two still war occasionally, Punk and Nexus currently seem to be focusing more specific attention on Randy Orton.
Finally, Nexus began their run by destroying the hugest names in the company. So, let's put Cena's fate all together and see how Rock factors in.
Cena's membership in Nexus potentially still ongoing + CM Punk's feud with Randy Orton over the WHC + Cena's own past feud(s) with Randy Orton over the WWE Title + The Rock "hosting" Wrestlemania and not necessarily being involved in a specific match + Cena and Punk both involved in the Elimination Chamber = Cena making a big surprise at Wrestlemania 27.
What exactly is that surprise? It's hard to say. Although, this Sunday at the Elimination Chamber PPV, if Cena wins and earns a shot at the WWE Champion at Wrestlemania, it may just confirm some of the hunches we have...