Shore's Blog: "The Biggest Match in WrestleMania History" then and now - comparing WrestleMania XVIII and WrestleMania XXVIII
By Chris Shore
Thursday, March 29, 2012 12:00pm
WWE has invested a lot of time and effort in declaring the Rock vs. John Cena match at WrestleMania XXVIII the "greatest match in WrestleMania history." This may be true, but if it is, it might be truer to refer to it as the "newest greatest match in WrestleMania history," because ten years ago, the Rock was involved in what many at that time called the greatest. I am, of course, talking about Rock vs. Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania XVIII.
So how will the to matches compare? History will be the ultimate judge. But let's look at it on the front end, and see if we can surmise what will be the same, and what will be very different about these two matches.
Work Rate: I can't imagine anyone thinks this years match would have a worse work rate than the WrestleMania 18 match. I don't wish to disparage what Hogan and Rock did. That match was wildly entertaining. But Hogan was always limited as a wrestler, and his age was a factor even ten years ago. You can literally count on your fingers the number of wrestling holds and moves in that match.
John Cena is not necessarily the greatest worker of all time either, but he is better than Hogan. In fact, Cena has proved himself to be quite the hand when put with guys who can work. His match with CM Punk was spectacular, as were his matches with Shawn Michaels. Rock is not the guy who can carry someone, but I don't think he needs to. Both men are capable in the ring, and the WrestleMania 28 match will far exceed the WrestleMania 18 match in work rate.
Crowd Response: This is probably the most interesting comparison. Much like WrestleMania 18, I expect the crowd to be on the side of the veteran. Of course this time, that's the Rock. The fact that it's his hometown, and that the WrestleMania crowd is generally a "smarter" crowd means John Cena will not get the best reaction anyway. Couple that with the presumed final match for the Rock, and you can expect the crowd to be solidly in his corner.
That expectation doesn't mean it will be all Rock. Rock is confirmed in some capacity for WrestleMania 29, so the "last match" idea may not fly. And while Miami is Rock's hometown, even John Cena was booed in Boston, his hometown. Granted Cena has been receiving more boos than cheers as of late, but Rock has been receiving more boos than expected as of late too. You never really know what a crowd will do. Expect a very pro-Rock crowd, but don't fall out of your chair if it doesn't go that way.
Final Moment: WrestleMania 18 saw the torch passed with the veteran laying down for the star, and then the two shaking hands in the middle of the ring. Of course Hogan went on to steal some of the thunder of Rock's moment by getting beat up and turning babyface. Even in defeat, Hogan always found a way to make it about him.
Do I expect the veteran to lie down for the star again? Yes. Do I expect a handshake? Not yet. Rock's involvement at WrestleMania 29 will be in a match. He may not be wrestling--though I expect him to--but he will be involved in a match in some way. Look for the handshake there as Rock rides off into the sunset, probably with a Hall of Fame induction as well. Will he make it all about him like Hogan did? Maybe. Mostly it depends on what he's planning to do with WWE over the next year. If it's very little, look for him to find a way to lose and save face. If it's a lot, look for a ton of shenanigans.
One thing is sure, even though the build for this match has been short of spectacular--and sometimes even short of good--it will leave us entertained, no matter what the ending. Some will be happy about the ending, others not. Will it be bigger than the WrestleMania 18 match? Time will tell. But I think it has a hell of a chance.
Questions? Comments? Anyone, anyone? Let me hear from you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @TheShoreSlant with whatever is on your mind.
And read my first work of fiction: The Following Contest is a Dark Match available exclusively on ebook for all eReaders, smartphones, tablets, and PCs for only 99 cents.
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