WWE: Can We Stop Trying to Predict the Rock's Imminent Departure from the WWE?

Richard WarrellAnalyst IIDecember 7, 2011

HOLLYWOOD - JULY 11:  Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson arrives at the 2007 ESPY Awards at the Kodak Theatre on July 11, 2007 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)
Vince Bucci/Getty Images

I have noticed a lot of articles casually mention that after WrestleMania 28, The Rock will leave the WWE Universe, abandoning it once again, to return to movie making. I’ve seen no articles discussing this; it is simply such an “accepted” fact that people say it casually without explanation. I do agree this is the most likely thing, but can we stop assuming it is the only possible way events can pan out?

Remember a few years ago, when everyone was convinced The Rock would never, ever come back? Then when he was announced as the host of WrestleMania 27 and made his big Raw comeback, everyone said we would not be seeing him again until WM itself. Whilst it was true he only made one live Raw appearance—in the week before WM27—it was still one more than most critics expected. Furthermore he also did all his “via satellite” promos—a cheap cop-out relative to a proper promo, but again, more than people expected. He also appeared in television/magazine interviews to promote the show, and has been making an effort to push the rivalry on Twitter (as well as, for some reason, encouraging tensions with CM Punk).

Following this, the critics moved the goal posts to “well, after WM28 he’ll disappear again forever, and that will be his only match in this feud.” The Rock appeared the next night on Raw, and his WM28 match with John Cena was announced. People grumbled, pointing out how he had only appeared on Raw twice in the build-up to WM27, and inevitably the build to WM28 would be the same. The Rock returned for his birthday, for the week before Survivor Series, competed in a match at Survivor Series, and I think at this point it’s safe to assume he’ll make at least a couple more appearances until the night itself. Indeed, with the rumours that Rock/Cena could be a “best of three” having panned out so far—i.e. Survivor Series was all about their rivalry, even if they were on the same team, on paper—we could even see another match before or after their WM28 faceoff. Throughout this time, he has continued to make promotional appearances (such as his interview in the WWE Magazine).

With regards to The Rock’s filming commitments, it is worth considering those were made several years ago—that’s how Hollywood works; contracts are in place well in advance. The world of wrestling is a far more fast-paced one, and I doubt the decision to bring back The Rock was finalised until recently—as a reaction to the WWE’s vastly depleted roster. Remember, since the start of 2010, we have seen the full departure of a lot of long-term male wrestlers (the bread and butter of the WWE’s product)—Shawn Michaels, Edge, Batista, Shelton Benjamin, Chavo, Chris Jericho, Tommy Dreamer, Matt Hardy, Finlay. HHH and The Undertaker’s roles dramatically decreased in this time period. Even the rest of the male cast cannot be leaned on as bit-characters as Todd Grisham and Shane McMahon have left, and Vince McMahon is presently not on WWE television.

If The Rock wants to appear more frequently on WWE television, he can clear time in his schedule in the future, and you know what? I don’t think he will. He’ll probably stick with acting and never come back again. But my points here are as follows:

  • Presently, he does not have the option of appearing much more frequently than he does already.
  •  He has already, repeatedly proven his detractors wrong about his commitment to this second WWE run.

More than anything else, this second point simply proves the situation is unpredictable. Don’t go assuming The Rock won’t win the WWE title, don’t go assuming he’ll put over John Cena—that could happen in a rematch at a later PPV. Hell, with all those top superstars retired, I can only imagine how much money is being saved from their wages to point in The Rock’s direction.