Shore's Blog: Finally, the Rock has come back to WWE…but is it the best thing?
By Chris Shore
Wednesday, February 16, 2:42 PM (ET)
Let there be no doubt, the fan in me exploded with joy and shivered with goose bumps as the Great One, the People's Champ, the most electrifying man in all of sports entertainment, the Rock stepped onto a WWE entrance ramp for the first time in seven years. Even the cynic in me got caught up in the excitement a little. How could you not? Did you hear that crowd?
And I have to admit that if the conversations about WWE were centered only on WrestleMania 27 buys and attendance, then scoring the Rock, along with Shawn Michaels headlining the Hall of Fame, is a gigantic score for WWE. There is no doubt in my mind that the show will sell out immediately—if it hasn't already—and that the PPV buys will be through the roof—at least compared to recent numbers.
But the conversations about WWE do not just center on WrestleMania 27. They center primarily around talent and woeful numbers for several quarters now. And the addition of the Rock, depending on how he is used, could ultimately do more harm than good to both.
With regard to talent, Rock mentioned two names on Raw: John Cena and The Miz. I think most of us see this as planting the seeds for some Rock involvement with the presumed Cena vs. Miz match at WrestleMania 27 for the WWE Title. Most would think Rock's involvement in that match—as a non-competitor to be sure—would lift the match and everyone in it. And normally I would agree.
But consider the two possible finishes. Scenario One: Miz somehow retains. As much as you and I want to see this, is there any way this plays out? Do any of us believe WWE would actually put Miz over Cena? I know they are hinting at this "talent transition" starting at WrestleMania 27, but Cena is not old enough to retire, and stays relatively injury free, so he's not being transitioned anywhere. And the idea that Cena turns heel is even more remote than taking the loss. He's just worth too much in merchandise and movie sales right now.
Scenario Two: The Rock helps John Cena overcome the odds and they shake hands in the middle of the ring. Sorry, I almost fell asleep typing that sentence. Yet this is the most logical scenario because it would protect Cena and send the crowd home happy. And yes, it will be the main event. Alberto Del Rio is all but guaranteed to win the World Heavyweight Title and Undertaker may not be well enough to have a main event match. Not to mention you don't have the Rock involved in a match and not put it as the main event.
Where does that leave us? With John Cena as champion, again. With Miz, arguably the hottest and brightest star on the entire WWE roster, buried under an Attitude Adjustment and a Rock Bottom. Can the Miz character recover from that? Could anybody?
And that brings me to the other problem with the Rock and talent. If there was one question I heard a million times on Monday night/Tuesday morning it was, "How awesome was it to see Rock bury Cena?" And it was good, no doubt. But consider this, the Rock did to Cena what Cena does every week to somebody else. How do you think those guys will look when compared to the Rock? His mere presence wilts everything else in the room, let alone if he decides to speak about you.
Don't believe me? How many of you thought this week's Raw was great even before Rock's music hit? A number of you did I know because you tweeted and said so here in the Dot Net forums. Yet today, how much do you really remember? Or when you start to think about Raw, does your mind reflexively turn to the last 22 minutes? I know mine does.
And that's the other potential problem with Rock's appearance. How many of you forgot there was a PPV this weekend? And even if you remembered, how many of you mentally leap-frogged over the Elimination Chamber for WrestleMania 27? His appearance overshadowed all the hype for the chamber—which was very well done by the way.
Will he drive buys for those silly enough to think he might show on this PPV? Sure. But how many fans have written off this PPV as nothing more than filler till WrestleMania 27? Is it less than the number that will buy because of the Rock, or is it more? And what about the show after WrestleMania 27? Will it have to have a special guest host to secure buys as well?
My fear is that while WrestleMania 27 does smashing numbers, the rest of the PPV numbers will decline. This will beg the question of why don't they do more guest hosts. And we all know how well WWE does guest hosts over the long term.
Don't get me wrong, having the Rock back makes me happy both as a wrestling journalist and a fan. He will provide a mountain of material to work with, and to just plain enjoy. And he will provide a big boost for WWE over the next seven weeks, and certainly at WrestleMania 27. But I do worry that this temporary gain could actually lead to long term losses for WWE once the electricity is gone. Let's hope whatever charge the Rock adds to WWE keeps the generators going after he leaves.
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