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Steve Likes to Curse
Writing, comics and random thoughts from really a rather vulgar man
The Rock saves WrestleMania 
Tuesday, February 15th, 2011 | 05:33 pm [pro wrestling, video]
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I beg your kind indulgence while I mark the fuck out for a minute.

Last night Dwayne Johnson, once (and probably still) best known as The Rock, returned to Raw, the flagship show of World Wrestling Entertainment, appearing in the ring for the first time in nearly seven years. A few pre-tapes scattered through the years aside, it was his first appearance for WWE since the Hall of Fame ceremony the night before WrestleMania XXIV in March, 2008.

It was as if the guy had never been away. In the space of about twenty minutes, The Rock not only performed the best promo WWE has seen in years — maybe since before he left the roster in 2004 — he single-handedly rescued what has been shaping up to be a limp and lackluster WrestleMania. Rock promised that he was back, and never ever leaving (we shall see how long that lasts), and called out WWE top dog and presumptive WrestleMania headliner John Cena, mocking Cena’s “You can’t see me” catchphrase in a bit that made me laugh out loud for nearly a minute straight.

WWE needs The Rock right now. After a seven-year absence, he’s a fresh face once again. And — taking nothing away from the current roster, including Cena, of whom I am a fan — he’s just a lot better at this stuff than anyone else in the company. The elevation of Alberto Del Rio and The Miz to main event level, solid ring work from Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, William Regal, Dolph Ziggler and a few others, has carried the promotion through the past year or so, but the disappointing Nexus angle, which started out white-hot in the summer but ended up circling the drain by a few months later, a silly and over-long feud between Kane and Edge on SmackDown, and a series of gimmicky and poorly received pay-per-views (not to mention the clumsy and off-putting attempt to brand the fans themselves by having everyone refer to the audience as the WWE Universe) have resulted in falling domestic buyrates and lagging fan enthusiasm. You can’t really blame people if they’d rather watch UFC.

This year’s WrestleMania, with Cena vs. Miz, and Edge vs. Del Rio, presumably to be its top title matches, was shaping up to be adequate at best. The return of injured stars like The Undertaker and Triple H in the next few weeks may have added something, but probably not enough to really make the show, set for April 3 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, something special.

But all of that was before last night. With the return of The Rock (whose vaguely defined role will be that of “host”), the prospects for WrestleMania went from arid to electrifying in the space of a few minutes. Last week the ‘Mania-related talk in the internet wrestling community was mostly about the wished-for match between The Undertaker and longtime NWA, WCW and TNA star Sting. Now it looks like that match won’t happen. Yesterday that seemed like a big deal to us wrestling fans. But today? It doesn’t matter.

Embedded below are videos of the closing 20 minutes of last night’s Raw, featuring the return of The Rock. If you’re a wrestling fan and you didn’t catch it already, check it out.

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011 | 11:08 pm (UTC)
You've got to love how he made everyone else on the roster look like nobody's on the indy's in comparison. it's kind of sad because there are guys who could be in the same ballpark if they weren't working with such mediocre material.

From that promo I'd guess that he's going to do a few backstage skits at the show and be a special guest ref for Cena/Miz. That would be a huge letdown after teasing Rock/Cena but I don't think The Rock is going to be doing an actual match.

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 | 12:37 am (UTC)
I'd be surprised if he worked an actual match, not just because he's seems pretty happy to have escaped the business, but also because of his announced role at the show. If the plan is for Rock to come back and wrestle, why bother setting him up as the host?

Still, just having him there cutting that promo last night, elevated the entire company and instantly made 'Mania a sellable show. Is it as good as a full-blown Rock vs. Cena feud? No, but I'll definitely take it!
Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 | 01:06 am (UTC)
I heard someone online say that he tore a quad filming a movie which led him to say that he'd never do a match again, so a 1 on 1 match is probably unlikely. However, if he's just going to be a host like Bob Barker and the like, why have him cut a promo attacking the roster (aside from the fact it was good TV)? The promo leads me to believe he'll be involved in something more substantial.

If I was going to fantasy book the angle I'd copy the build to Wrestlemania 14. Hey, the new audience wouldn't recognize it anyway. The Rock aligns with The Miz against Cena and is a special guest enforcer for the match. The Miz gets star rub from hanging out with the biggest star they have for a month. Cena wins the match and The Rock turns on The Miz, drops the People's Elbow a couple times, celebrates with Cena and the crowd goes home happy.

I only see two problems with that; Having The Rock there as the enforcer might take away from the rumoured HHH/Undertaker match with HBK as the ref. (In that case save your money and leave HBK at home. He won't add a single buy that the Rock wouldn't have gotten anyway). The second problem is that people might boo Cena but they always do that anyway. People will get back on his side at the finish anyway and split crowds at Wrestlemania are always fun (see Hogan/Warrior, Rock/Austin at WM 17 and Rock/Hogan)

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 | 03:24 am (UTC)
I don't get the appeal of having HBK come back in to ref HHH vs. Taker, if that's how they go. I agree with you, I doubt it would help the buyrate at all. If anything, throwing Michaels in there would only serve to underscore what an uninspiring match that would be.

Shit, Rock could just cut another promo like that at 'Mania and it would probably be more exciting than anything else on the show. I hate to shit on the company, since I like a lot of guys there now, but unless they plan on booking Danielson vs. Punk and giving them 30 minutes to do whatever they want, I'm not expecting much in terms of match quality.

But speaking of that, even without the Rock segment, I thought last night's Raw was a pretty good show. Cena vs. Punk, and Bryan vs. Miz were both great little TV matches, I thought.
Thursday, February 17th, 2011 | 12:03 am (UTC)
A week ago HBK would have added some star power but that's not really needed anymore. The rumor was that he'd be a 'conflicted' guest ref but I don't see where the conflict would have come in. On one side you'd have the guy who retired him and on the other there's his best friend. The HHH/Taker match might be interesting, at least to compare to the one they had a decade ago. That one was shockingly good at the time, mostly because of the hot finish. HHH is much worse than he was then and a year ago you might say Taker was much better now but injuries may have caught up to him.

I'll take your word on Raw being a good show since I don't think I've seen a full episode (or even the majority of an episode) since 2005.

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 | 04:15 am (UTC) - Great site Steve....
Just checkin in on your site. A lot of entertaining stuff man. Keep up the good work.
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