What the Rock’s Return says about the state of the WWE…for better or worse…
You know the rest.
So I finally turned the television off at 11:23 pm last night – and oddly enough I was wondering what Bonnie Hammer at USA networks was thinking with Raw’s epic 20+ minute overrun and how excited she must have been by the potential ratings boon – and I TRIED to get to sleep. Easier said than done. I was fired up. Usually I’m able to forego the end of Raw in favor of a longer night’s sleep, but last night, it was the very definition of must see TV. It was, in a word, electrifying.
So, in classic internet forum fashion, I had to find a flaw in it.
Don’t get nervous or angry just yet – it’s mostly positive stuff. But I want to take a moment to look at all angles of the return of Dwayne.
1. Wrestlemania just got a MASSIVE shot in the arm. Casual wrestling fans who were ticket and merchandise buyers in the late 90’s and early 00’s will catch wind of this, and will likely purchase the pay-per-view. The idea of a Rock / Cena show down is intriguing to say the very least, especially when you consider the strong likelihood that Cena is in the title picture with The Miz.
2. Monday Night Raw just got a MASSIVE ratings boost. As I mentioned previously, the over run last night for Raw was longer than its been in probably WELL over a decade, and USA was wise to keep rolling with it. When the numbers come out, the 10:45 pm – 11:30 pm numbers will be a harbinger of what’s to come on the Road to Wrestlemania.
3. All is forgiven. Rock came out last night, and without ever losing an ounce of who he is and why he’s one of the all time greats, he was humble and contrite. He didn’t apologize for leaving – he THANKED fans for keeping him in their hearts, even though a strong contingent of fans felt betrayed by what had happened. This once again goes a long way in speaking about the classy and forgiving nature of many pro wrestling fans. Once you’re in with us, you never really leave. Just ask Hogan from Wrestlemania 18.
4. Rock proved that "PG" doesn’t have to be watered down. Sure, he dropped some "damns" and some "asses." Hardly a crisis situation. The Attitude Era started with the word "ass," in "Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass." The ensuing weekly envelope pushing from Torrie and Dawn Marie making out to every blood bath Hell in a Cell that followed took the WWE to a point where today’s programming seems almost sterile. Rocky came out and struck a balance between the two. Save the stronger language for the huge, late night moments. But keep it within reason. He did that.
5. Somehow, Michael Cole just got stronger. The run that The Rock gave Cole, and the subsequent crowd reaction to Cole, only served to enhance Cole’s character. He played off The Rock wonderfully – from his smug look when the e-mail arrived to his pout after The Rock had verbally destroyed him.
1. The youth suddenly doesn’t seem so strong. It’s been 7 years since The Rock was a major player in WWE, and yet in just ONE shit, he completely obliterated everything that everyone else has been doing. 7 years out of the business, and after just one night back he’s the biggest draw in the company. WWE may be able to turn this into a positive by using Rocky as a mentor for the young kids like Miz and Morrisson, but you can’t feel good about the rest of the roster when The Rock can show you in 20 minutes just how inferior everyone else is to him.
2. Sudden dependency on aging stars. Many fans have criticized TNA for its overutilization of aging wrestlers, and yet, all of the biggest news in the WWE lately has been the returns of guys like Austin (to host Tough Enough), Rocky (to host Wrestlemania), Booker T (to commentary) and Kevin Nash (to do something and tweet incessantly). Plus, a fair portion of Wrestlemania is rumored to be built around Triple H vs The Undertaker, leaving Wade Barrett and S(h)eamus seeking a program to work.
3. No matter what, this will likely end in a let down. Rocky had stated in past interviews that he didn’t want to come back in a wrestling capacity. Whether he comes back as a General Manager or just as a guest host, or even if he goes the extra step and does wrestle "one last match," the chances of us coming away from this satisfied are less than stellar. I don’t think the buzz of last night has worn off enough for most casual fans to grasp the very real possibility that, as much as we want to see The Rock wrestle and compete again, that is probably not going to happen.
The forums are, as you might expect, going absolutely crazy about this new event. To discuss the Rock’s return, please visit us here: http://forums.wrestlezone.com/showthread.php?t=153846
Thank you to all of the new posters who joined us last night in our Live Discussion to talk about The Rock’s return and an amazing match between The Miz and Daniel Bryan as they happened. Wrestlezone Forums holds live discussions for all major events: Raw, Smackdown, Impact, all wrestling and UFC PPV’s, and several other major sporting and entertainment events.
Finally, thank you to everyone who responded to my Opinion peice last week regarding the presence of Black Champions in professional wrestling. I knew heading into that topic that it was a polarizing one and that there was a good chance I’d get a range of responses. You all didn’t disappoint. I received a combination of agreement, hate mail, and even some lengthy dissertations about the presence of racism. All in all it was very entertaining, but even more so, it was important. It is Black History Month, after all, and any time you can have a dialogue about a topic like this, it shows that people care and are thinking about it. That’s never a bad thing.
I’ll give everyone’s kindest regards to Chris Jericho tonight when I meet him at Bookends in Northern NJ. His new book is supposed to be a terrific read, and I for one can’t wait.
All the best,
Wrestlezone Forums Moderator