Dwayne Johnson is currently one of the biggest stars in Hollywood and one of the highest paid leading men on the scene. Johnson’s gradual climb up to the top has seen him take on his share of questionable roles (reference “The Tooth Fairy”) but he has finally reached the level of stardom that he had hoped to achieve. Dwayne Johnson is finally regarded as a serious actor in Hollywood and not just some former pro wrestler trying to cash in on his name, a la Hulk Hogan.
Of course, once upon a time, long ago in a grungy decade called the nineties, Dwayne Johnson was known the world over as “The Rock.” During the most experimental and groundbreaking era the professional wrestling world has ever seen, many new superstars were helping redefine the industry. Among this new breed of attitudinal performers was a young man who would quickly rise to the top of his profession – adored by the audience and christened “The People’s Champion.”
The Rock would go on to win championships and main event WrestleMania. During the absence of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in 1999-2000 due to injury, The Rock would fill in with general ease as the face of the WWE – becoming the most popular superstar on the roster during that period of time. The Rock had become a household name and a recognized part of popular culture, appearing in music videos and hit television shows.
The Rock’s first venture into feature films was in the 2001 film, The Mummy Returns where The Rock would play the part of “The Scorpion King.” The success of the film would lead to a spin-off film where The Rock would star in his first leading role. This would of course lead to more and more movie offers for “The Great One,” who would soon be taking months off at a time away from WWE television for filming purposes. In 2004, at WrestleMania XX, The Rock would wrestle his last match for almost eight years.
In 2011, The Rock made his unexpected and electrifying return to WWE to host WrestleMania XXVII. This would lead to a dream match the following year where The Rock would take on John Cena in the main event of WrestleMania XXVIII. Everybody loved the match – it was fun to watch, exciting, and unpredictable. It would have been great as a one-off deal but two would square-off again the following year, this time with John Cena picking up the victory.
The Rock/Cena rematch was for the WWE Championship and was made to look organic and not forced by having John Cena win the 2013 Royal Rumble match and The Rock win the WWE Championship that same night from CM Punk – who was in the midst of the longest WWE Championship reign of the past twenty-five years and who should have been defeated by a full-time performer and not a full-time movie star who could make time for WWE when his schedule permits.
I like The Rock and always have but I just don’t get it anymore. This era is not his and he doesn’t seem to fit the mold. Force-feeding him to an audience that may not necessarily know who or what The Rock truly is cannot be the right road to head down. The Rock surprising the crowd from time to time like he did the other week in Brooklyn is great – it’s a nice dose of nostalgia. However, it should end there as there is no real need for The Rock to wrestle anymore. Take that one final WrestleMania paycheck and call it a day “Great One.”
These are the top 10 reasons why The Rock should retire from in-ring action …
10. The People Don’t Care as Much Anymore
The Rock returns and there is a huge pop from the live crowd. The home audience leap forth from their couches in shock and anticipation of what The Rock will have to say to the WWE Universe. However, the excitement quickly begins to fade. The electricity doesn’t seem as high-voltage as it once was many years ago. There’s the first problem. The people don’t really care as much as they used to about “The People’s Champion.” The reason for that is fairly obvious; because The Rock is no longer their champion and they know it full and well. Sure, the people will still cheer for him whenever he does appear on WWE television but not with full hearts.
9. Repetitive and Recycled Material
One thing that is particularly dull with The Rock these days is his stale material – his jokes were hilarious about fifteen years ago but now they just seem like watered-down run-offs of his greatest hits. If The Rock is going to return sporadically, then he should have grade A material each and every time he is on the microphone or better yet; a whole new persona. In 2003 when The Rock returned with his egotistical movie star persona, it worked really well because the fans believed that The Rock thought he was better than them. The Rock coming back to the current product as a heel would be fantastic but will never happen – everything will remain as the same old schtick.
8. Not the Full Experience
The Rock is a byproduct of the Attitude Era and for young fans who are unfamiliar with that time, they will not get the to witness the entire Rock experience. The new generation of WWE fans have been subjugated to the PG Era of the company. This is not an era in which The Rock can thrive. The Rock was full of that attitude which the WWE was boasting about during the “Monday Night War.” With programming gone PG, there is no room for the kind of smack-talk that helped elevated The Rock’s career. Yes, the WWE allows him to cuss a little bit here and there and he still gets to mention how he will “turn things sideways,” but it’s all cookie-cutter stuff compared to what The Rock’s promos once were.
7. Hollywood Heartache
During his match at WrestleMania XXIX, The Rock suffered torn muscles and tendons around his pelvis causing him to miss out on scheduled Hollywood appearances. This obviously doesn’t sit well with producers, agents, and directors who have invested a great deal of time and money into Dwayne Johnson. The circumstances of such an incident could pose as a problem in the future should The Rock suffer an injury severe enough to take him off the set of a movie shoot. The wrestling reward just isn’t worth the Hollywood risk.
6. Losing Patience with Part-Timers
In recent years, the WWE has seemed to incorporated a new sort of “part-time” system in which past superstars will show up on occasion for a quick feud and departure. The Rock of course, is one of these superstars. Others include, Brock Lesnar, Chris Jericho, and RVD. The fans love these guys. They become emotionally invested in them once again but then, they leave… once again. The Rock is undoubtedly the most popular part-timer in WWE which is why the frustration of fans continues to grow every time he comes around just to split as quickly as he reemerged. The part-timer system is flawed and is causing a large amount of impatience among the WWE Universe.
5. Leave the Past Behind
Dwayne Johnson is forty-two-years-old – kind of over-the-hill to still be considered “The Rock.” Far too often, wrestlers cling to their past with desperation and lack of dignity. This is usually due to their lack of outside resources as many professional wrestlers do not see other opportunities outside of the industry. However, The Rock has already successfully figured out the whole transition thing. Which is why it is time to leave the past behind. The north-of-forty Rock just isn’t as cool as late-twenties Rock. There is a relevance factor to incorporate here and the simple fact that it is just time to let it go, man.
4. Devaluing the Current Product
Whether they know it or not, whenever the WWE calls upon The Rock for a comeback, they are essentially devaluing their current product. When The Rock interrupted Lana and Rusev on Monday Night Raw in Brooklyn, at first it seemed like a good spot for The Rock’s presence but it quickly became everything I had alluded to earlier in this article. We got the same old material along with some major pandering to the New York crowd. All right, so The Rock did his thing, said his lines and all that stuff, as the audience awaited the inevitable psychical confrontation – in which The Rock prevailed untouched by Rusev. How come a guy who is currently unbeatable by anybody in the WWE locker room was so easily knocked to the floor by a movie star?
3. Not Allowing Talent to Get Over
Much like what happened with Rusev on Raw, there is seemingly no way WWE will allow any of its younger talent to go over on The Rock. There are a number of superstars whose careers would benefit greatly from a victory over “The Great One.” Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Dolph Ziggler just to name a few. The Rock would probably be willing to put over Roman Reigns but they’re cousins so Reigns doesn’t exactly qualify. The Rock has been involved in five matches since his return and he has managed to score the pinfall in all but one, with his only losing effort coming at the hands of John Cena – not exactly an up-and-coming superstar.
2. Taking Away Spots
The years of trying to make it into a main event spot on a major card can all be taken away in a split second if The Rock decides that he wants to work the event. Let’s go back to the 2013 Royal Rumble: why did The Rock get to be the guy to take the title from CM Punk? WrestleMania XXIX should have featured CM Punk verses John Cena for the WWE Championship in the main event. Effectively, The Rock took away a main event spot from CM Punk – a guy who more than earned the right to headline at least one WrestleMania. When The Rock takes away a man’s spot, he is also taking away that man’s money, which is something he certainly does not lack.
1. Nothing Left
The Rock does not need WWE as much as WWE feel they need The Rock. That is not to say that The Rock is not appreciative of his past with the company. When discussing his rise to superstardom, he does in fact speak kindly and highly of WWE and it does feel genuine. That being said; there is nothing left for him to do within WWE. The Rock has wrestled all the greats (except for Shawn Michaels: a match that will never happen), won a number of titles and has entertained his fans to the utmost of his abilities. The memories are plentiful but it is time to bid farewell to the squared-circle.
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