WWE: Time To Let The Rock, Steve Austin, HHH and Undertaker Go

Mike ShannonFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2011

So, in a rare event, people are actually excited about a WWE pay-per-view for once.

WrestleMania is going to feature The Rock as guest host, Steve Austin as a referee, Snooki in a 6-man tag that the world doesn't need to see, and HHH vs. Undertaker.

But what happens after the event?

The Rock?  Gone.  Steve Austin?  Gone.  Snooki?  Gone.  Undertaker?  Nearly crippled and close to retirement.  HHH?  Seems closer and closer to semi-retirement any day now.

After the smoke clears from WrestleMania, all of WWE's featured attractions are either going to go back into retirement or go back to their "I only appear on special TV shows and PPVs" mode. 

That is not good times.

Before people start yakking, there is zero chance that The Rock is going to wrestle.  It's just not going to happen.  The Rock is, however, going to do his best to raise that Miz-Cena match to above *** and is booked for the night after Raw to try to transfer his heat to someone.  Will it work?  Probably, but for how long?

The problem is that WWE's "future" is still firmly entrenched in the mid-card:  Sheamus is US champion after losing 47,723 matches in a row, Daniel Bryan is going nowhere despite being an awesome worker, Nexus was just buried by Randy Orton, Dolph Ziggler is basically just a muscled guy to stand behind Vickie Guerrero, and John Morrison seems to have been totally forgotten about.

These are the guys who are supposed to be leading us into a new era.  HHH and Undertaker were two of my favorites...back in 1999.  The Rock and Steve Austin drew millions of dollars and sold out arenas all over the country...back in 1999.

HHH, Taker, Austin, and Rocky are ALWAYS going to get huge props when they enter arenas because they are the new legends.  People want to see them but they are not capable of carrying a promotion anymore.  You need new blood, you need different, you need change.

WWE, however, is seeing things this way:  The Rock will be entertaining as hell, Steve Austin will stun Michael Cole and drink beer, Snooki will get mainstream press, and HHH vs. Taker will be booked to ensure a great match.

WrestleMania is not the problem, the day AFTER WrestleMania is the problem.

Who is left to carry the promotion for the long haul into summer?  Randy Orton gets great crowd reactions but the ratings show no one cares.  John Cena desperately needs a fresh start, not necessarily as a heel, but he needs to do something different.  Edge is getting up there in age as well and he's one more neck injury away from retirement.

So who should WWE turn to after the PPV?  Alberto Del Rio.

Del Rio is the closest thing that WWE has to a breakout star.  His smooth style in the ring and smarmy heel attitude has great potential.  Is he going to pack 60,000 seat arenas?  Not yet. 

It's time to pull the trigger on Del Rio and let him carry Smackdown's side of things for awhile.  A feud with Sin Cara seems natural and the crowd is already going to be behind him because of the hype videos.

Much respect to Rocky, Steve Austin, HHH, and Undertaker, but their time is over.