The Rock Says...And I Don't Listen
By: Parker Richards
I don't like the Rock.
I think the Rock is incredibly overrated. What has he done? A bunch of movies that are forgotten about as quickly as they've been released, that's what. The WWE might as well bring back Snooki to face Cena at WrestleMania in Miami; she seems to be able to take a good punch. No one cares about the Cena/Rock main event. If the WWE was smart, they would give the fans what the fans really want: CM Punk v. Stone Cold Steve Austin. I guarantee it will be more interesting than anything that Cena and "Dwayne" can put together.
Okay, crazy rant aside, I'm not kayfabing. I really don't like anything about the predetermined WM main event or the Rock's character right now. If Cena is stale, what does that make Rocky? Antique? Ancient? Methuselah-esque? Not only that, he isn't entertaining. His attempts to be edgy are like a 13-year-old trying to be cool by smoking: it's just sad.
However, my views of the Rock have not always been so negative. My formative years were at the height of the Monday Night Wars and the Attitude Era. I grew up with Austin 3:16, DX, Goth Taker, and – obviously – the People's Champion, the Brahma Bull, the Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment, the Rock. While he was a great in-ring performer, the "Great One" truly shined when there was a microphone in his hand.
I can remember waiting with bated breath as the Rock held until the perfect moment to announce to the millions (and millions) that he had finally returned to wherever he was that night. And, even at home, snuggled warmly in my bed, I chanted along. His insults were awesome, his one-liners were great, his singing...sucked, but it didn't matter because it was entertaining. Very entertaining.
So entertaining, in fact, when Hollywood executives saw this human Tesla coil, they saw dollar signs. They offered him leading roles in big-budget films. They were throwing insane amounts of money at him, and he did what any person would do: he took the big payday.
I don't blame the Rock for taking the money and trying to become a movie star. He was in his 30s and wanted to maximize his earning potential. It's been said that a male actor's prime is between the ages of 35-45; Rock had a 3-4 year head start. He made a ton of movies, a ton of money, and didn't have to get slammed, dropped, or beaten with a chair almost every day to do it. I call that success.
So, for seven years, the Rock removed himself from being the wrestler and became Dwayne the actor. While the Rock doing movies was not an issue, the way he went about it was: distancing himself from the platform he used to catapult into stardom. Austin's done movies, but he's used his wrestling name. He never tried to create a space between Stone Cold the wrestler and Stone Cold the actor; the Rock did. When people referred to him as "The Rock," he seemed to cringe. It was almost as if he was ashamed that he was once a pro wrestler.
However, after seven years, he decided the time is right for a return. Whether the return had been "in the works" as Rock has stated on several occasions doesn't matter. The Rock returned on Valentine's Day 2011 and electrified the wrestling world. It was entertaining; it was fun; it was new. After seven years of John Cena, the Rock reminded the world of what the WWE was like when he was the no. 1 superstar. He even called out John Cena. He made fun of his clothing, his fanbase, his motto. It was incredibly entertaining...
...Until it wasn't.
After his return and the first "via satellite" verbal smackdown, something happened. The Rock – the most electrifying man in all of entertainment – wasn't electrifying anymore. He wasn't funny. Sure, people chuckled. People cheered because he was making fun of the WWE's whipping boy. But he wasn't the same. He wasn't vintage; he was stale.
For example, his catchphrases were not entertaining or insulting. During "Rock Appreciation Night," how many times did he say "The Rock gets more pie in one night than you will ever get in your lifetime"? More so, how many times has he used it since? He used that line against CM Punk in defense of his spot as a top guy because of what he did – with help – at the beginning of the millennia. His catchphrases and one-liners lost their organic nature and became trite. So, he started working on his insults.
Instead of calling out Cena for his wrestling ability or thinking that he is the best like Punk, or questioning his ability to be the top guy when the Rock could claim he never relinquished his spot like Hogan does every other week, he calls Cena gay. Not outright, mind you, because that would send GLAAD running, but to suggest Cena is gay is pathetic. As a matter of fact, it's hypocritical. The Rock harangues Cena because his fanbase is around the age of 12-13. Does he not know the insult of choice for that age bracket? The use of gay slurs at that age is more common than obesity. If a person hasn't been called gay, then he or she has either lived in a cave or been home schooled. How can a person criticize something when he is exhibiting similar attributes?
The point of all of this isn't to bash on the Rock; it's to say that he needs to step up his game. He left one hell of a legacy when he departed for Hollywood. It would be a shame to add an epilogue that tarnishes it. If you don't believe it, look at Brett Favre. Instead of saying, "Brett? Oh, he was amazing!" people say, "Yeah, uh, Brett. Yeah, uh, he was good..." I hope that doesn't happen to the Rock.