Why Is The Rock Back?

Mark Madden

WHY IS THE ROCK BACK?

When it comes to The Rock’s return to WWE, everyone asks, “What?” What will The Rock do at ‘Mania? What are his long-term plans? What are the chances he has a match with John Cena?

Not me. I’m asking, “Why?” WHY is The Rock back in WWE? I didn’t see this coming.

Perhaps simply missing the wrestling business is part of it. The Rock is very proud of his family, and sports entertainment is in his blood, part of his legacy.

Perhaps a WrestleMania payday is part of it, but it’s tough to imagine that The Rock needs cash.

The Rock doesn’t need WWE. He’s a bankable actor established in two genres, action hero and kiddy flicks. His latest movies haven’t done monster box office, but the offers still keep coming.

It’s taken The Rock quite some time to escape his primary association with wrestling. I’m surprised he wants to remind Hollywood where he came from. It’s a tough stigma to shake. Hulk Hogan never did. Then again, Hogan can’t act. The Rock can. He’s a very creditable performer.

I’d have thought The Rock had too much self-esteem to again be under Vince McMahon’s thumb. Those taunts about not loving the biz and playing gay roles in movies are revenge insults direct from McMahon over The Rock spurning WWE for Hollywood. I don’t think The Rock has to worry about anybody discovering he’s a predatory bisexual, though.

So, why has The Rock come back to WWE?

Maybe The Rock feels major exposure via WrestleMania can give his film career a boost. Maybe he figures a brief return to sports entertainment can get WWE fans more invested in his movies. Maybe he misses the instant gratification performing live in front of tens of thousands of people provides.

Maybe it doesn’t matter what I think. But I’m curious to see how this plays out.

The Rock won’t wrestle at ‘Mania. The Rock will have some sort of physical altercation with The Miz or (almost certainly) Cena, thus providing a signature WrestleMania moment and laying groundwork for a future match, either at SummerSlam or next year’s ‘Mania. Just because that match will have been set up doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to occur. Following through will be the difficult part.

It’s going to be tough to maintain heat for a Rock-Cena match between now and SummerSlam, let alone now and ‘Mania 2012, especially with limited participation from The Rock. There’s nothing worse than those synced-up taped segments, or that “live via satellite” nonsense. It gives the impression that party can’t be bothered. What made The Rock’s live return great is that it was LIVE. Can’t feud through Twitter forever.

If The Rock is only peripherally involved, isn’t that feud ultimately a waste of Cena? Don’t you want your top full-time star in a program you can exploit every week?

The Rock is going to get movie offers between now and wrestling Cena, whenever that might be tenatively scheduled. A producer might adjust his shooting schedule around Raw, and around a pay-per-view date. Then again, he might not. Movies pay more. They’re The Rock’s bread-and-butter. They’re his top priority.

Looking at potential obstacles, and considering that familiarity could breed contempt once The Rock has again been around wrestling for a bit, look for The Rock’s re-involvement with WWE to end at ‘Mania.

Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM, Pittsburgh, PA  (105.9). Check out his web page at WXDX.com. Contact Mark by emailing WZMarkMadden@hotmail.com.

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