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Pruett's Blog: The pros and cons of announcing The Rock vs. John Cena for WrestleMania XXVIII

Posted in: Pruett's Blog, MUST-READ LISTING
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Apr 6, 2011 - 03:40 PM

By Will Pruett

Wednesday, April 6 - 3:40 P.M. (CT)

On Monday night, WWE did something that they have never done before. They announced the main event of WrestleMania a year before the event was set to take place. This was an unexpected move, simply because it has not happened in the past. In this blog, I aim to look at the good and bad surrounding this decision.

The Pros:
- The large audience: WWE traditionally has one of their largest audiences of the year on the Monday Night Raw after WrestleMania. Around 5.5 million people tuned in to Raw this past Monday, thus proving this point. As the weeks go on, this audience traditionally dwindles. As the WrestleMania excitement fades away, Raw's casual viewership will fade away to people loosely following the product. This was the perfect audience to hype WrestleMania XXVIII to. Next year, as the build to this match kicks in again, WWE will have a large built in audience that has already heard about this match.

- The match is already built: The Rock and John Cena put in what is most likely half of the build to this match already. WWE is not a company that is renowned for long-term storytelling, but this match means that these two will have a base to build on for the next year.

- One year story: How will WWE get to WrestleMania XXVIII at this point? It felt like the build was leading more to Extreme Rules than next April right up until the point that Rock said WrestleMania XXVIII. The story must be told slowly at this point and needs to be cooled down. This cannot boil over to the point that the match is forced to happen early. There is a serious potential to do one of WWE's best buyrates ever with the proper execution of a one year story.

- A new story: Quite simply, this has never been tried before. WWE is in uncharted territory and with a concrete date set for when this match will happen so far out. In a wrestling world where so many things seem like repeats, this is brand new,

The Cons:
- Can they keep the heat?: As I said, this story needs to cool off. It also needs to heat up at the perfect time next year and reach a boiling point at the right moment. Can this story keep the mega-heat that it had as it picked up this year? Will The Rock's appearance as the build to WrestleMania begins mean near as much as Rock did this year? The fans seem to have already stopped cheering him near as much as they did in his first couple of appearances. It does not seem quite as special to have him around now that he has been there and has gotten physical.

- Will WWE actually deliver this match?: WWE is not a company that is prone to long-term planning. Will they end up in a situation with dwindling pay-per-view buys where they need The Rock to come in and work with John Cena early? If the next few shows come in with the sad numbers that many shows last year had, WWE will see the big money they could make and may try to make it early. What if one of them gets hurt? Rock could get injured on a movie set and Cena could get hurt in the ring. Now that we know that this is the planned match, would it kill the card to not deliver it?

- Selling pay-per-views from May to February: What does WWE have to build to? They have a year where The Rock will not be in the ring. They have twelve pay-per-views to sell in that time. While The Rock's impending match with John Cena will make a nice backdrop, what about the matches in the forefront? Can Extreme Rules or Survivor Series seem like must buy shows while everyone knows that there is a huge main event on the horizon?

- What about the WWE Championship: This is more of a con for the segment that set up the match. John Cena belittled the WWE Championship and said he did not want another shot at Miz. What does John Cena do now? Does he chase the championship he does not care about? Does he find a side feud with a major heel? What about after that? With the specter of The Rock hanging in the balance, John Cena will not have the ability to be involved in a long term top feud because there is always something bigger waiting for him.

The Verdict:
- The potential to make money on one show, even if it is a year from now, is so great that WWE made the right call here. They risk losing some steam and losing a lot of interest in the next few months, but they have given people an appointment one when they can come back. This major angle will carry over a lot of this year's momentum and hopefully bring in more. WWE has a year to plan how to get to and what to do at WrestleMania.

It's all in the execution and if WWE executes this correctly in the next year, they can make more money and build to more buys than the company has ever had. I'm excited to see this in the next year and to watch WrestleMania XXVIII play out.

To share your thoughts on this blog with me, or to debate any points that I mentioned, hit me up on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime or email me at itswilltime@gmail.com. Thanks for reading!

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