The Road to Wrestlemania is underway and it’s abuzz with plenty of chatter. I can’t remember the last time I heard random people who don’t normally watch wrestling talk about wrestling passionately and that was due to the Valentine’s Day return of The Rock. All I have had is people ask me about John Cena and The Rock and all the possibilities that they have dancing around with those two in their imaginations. I don’t think I am overstating anything when I say casual interest is higher than it’s been in years because of this and while normally I would say that’s a great thing as the more casual fans you get interested you have to assume that would more than help Wrestlemania’s buy rate; I can’t help but ask myself is this angle with the Rock and John Cena good for the WWE? You’re reading “Wrestling Rumblings”.
If I am going to answer something like that it’s only fair that I examine it all the way through and let’s get something straight for the short term this angle is great for the WWE. I said it before and I’ll say it again everyone is talking about the WWE right now and everyone seems primed for some sort of confrontation between the Rock and John Cena. This is definitely going to add something special interest wise in Wrestlemania but what about the long term ramifications on WWE?
As much as fans are talking about John Cena and The Rock many of them are talking specifically about John Cena vs. The Rock and well the chances of that match ever taking place are slim as Rock has already made his retirement official and I don’t get the feeling he is going to back off that declaration anytime soon. So while many fans are interested in this thinking that even if it’s not at Wrestlemania somewhere down the line they may get Cena vs. Rock how are they going to feel when they realize that is not the case? Will they stick with their newfound fascination with the WWE? Or will they feel misled and betrayed never to return again? This is something to consider since WWE has as of late betrayed its regular fans on a consistent basis with all sorts of stipulations that have been rendered meaningless. The only thing it can do is offer dream matches and when they tease that only to not deliver that there could be fans that just throw their hands up in the air and give up on watching the product all together.
What about the fans who all of a sudden come to shows expecting to see The Rock? After all in his promo he mentioned being back and “never leaving again”. While I took that to mean that he would make occasional appearances like many other legends there are some who took it to mean that he would be a regular part of WWE programming again. This was somewhat evident in all the pro Rock signs that were present at Raw this week and just this week alone I have had 3 separate people inquire about going to WWE’s MSG show on March 19th with the expectation of seeing the Rock even though he is not advertised to appear and I have told them repeatedly that he would not appear as this is all an angle for Wrestlemania. What happens to those fans that go to those shows expecting to see The Rock? Will they continue to pay for tickets when it would appear apparent that it took something outside of WWE to get them to buy a ticket in the first place? So it would be reasonable to say that WWE may not have anything to keep them coming back.
This past Monday I got a ton of text messages from fans who pronounced the PG era dead due to the old school freestyle promo by John Cena. I think those fans put the dirt on that era a bit too quickly as I doubt WWE plans to change their direction anytime soon with that and yeah maybe John Cena in an effort to put himself on equal footing with The Rock may dust off his edginess a bit but what happens after Wrestlemania when he goes back to being the same wacky John Cena that we have known for the past 6 years. New fans may become older fans and regular fans may wind up feeling so disenchanted that they may finally just give up on the product as they may see the era that they so longingly crave for (the attitude era) as never coming back. What about those parents who did let their kids watch WWE because of the feeling that WWE programming is PG? What was there reaction when John Cena cut that racy freestyle promo on The Rock? What if they refuse to allow their kids to watch John Cena if that becomes a regular thing on the way to Wrestlemania? What of the advertisers like Mattel? For those who don’t know the only reason Mattel took the WWE license in the first place was due to its PG content. Could wavering like this hurt that and other future advertisers who may not have faith in WWE to stick to their promised direction? I mean you’re either PG or you’re not, you can’t have it both ways can you?
Let’s focus a bit more on John Cena here for a minute. I think it goes without saying that when it comes to The Rock and John Cena that The Rock is clearly the more over star of the two. Hulk Hogan did an interview recently for Hot 97 right here in NY where he mentioned how he didn’t agree with The Rock’s way of putting over that angle and saw Rock’s promo as a total burial of John Cena and to be honest as much as it pains me to say it I agree with Hulk Hogan. The Rock is just here for Wrestlemania and John Cena whether you like him or not is the cash cow of the WWE. Part of me feels that WWE is hoping for a similar dynamic to what they had in 1997 with the US vs. Canada angle they had going except with it being the older fans vs. the younger fans and well that’s just not going to have the same kind of box office effect that they were able to have with warring countries in 1997. It’s my opinion that younger fans sort of take their cues from older fans a bit and when they see fans going insane for The Rock who is clearly not being positioned as a heel and when they see how much more entertaining he is than John Cena they too may turn on John Cena. I don’t think it necessarily helps WWE when their biggest star is put in the position to be booed on the biggest stage of the year by a guy who is not really in your company. Watching Rock’s promo all I could think about was if I was a little kid who had a John Cena shirt or anything I would have felt kind of dumb sitting in that arena while Rock clowned on his mannerisms which I would have cheered and his apparel which I would have worn while the masses cheered. I don’t think that’s the kind of light you want to cast on what is supposed to be your top star.
I just want to say I am not rooting for any kind of doom or failure with this angle. I just see the potential for long term disaster if this is not handled right. In a perfect world I’d like to envision WWE handling this in a way where they come out better than ever because I have several ideas where I could see that happening but I have seen WWE blow several opportunities to elevate their business over the past year and I am fearful that this will be the latest in a series of moments where we as fans will wind up saying “if only they did this”. I don’t want to see that happen, as far as Wrestlemania is concerned I’m geeked up for it like I am each and every year and I hope that this year’s Wrestlemania is the one that gets fans talking and maybe creates some of those younger stars that fans have been clamoring for. Let’s hope we get an event for the ages.
OK time to wrap up this week but I have to give you all something to do. ROH will be having their 9th Anniversary Show this Saturday and it will be broadcast live on gofightlive.tv on iPPV. So far ROH hasn’t had a bad iPPV yet and it has been the general consensus that there shows just seem to keep getting better and better and I expect that trend to continue with this latest offering. I’m also going to ask all of you to be on the lookout for at least one, if not two installments of “The Eye Gouge” that will be heading your way this weekend. Of course if you have any feedback, comments or questions you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and well that’s it for this week, next week I’ll try to do better and until then I am out.