Hitting Rock Bottom
April 18, 2013
By: Matt O’Brien of Wrestleview.com

As the blur clears from the Wrestlemania hangover, things are beginning to settle down and fans can now look back at the big show with a clear head. There was the debut of Fandango, the return of The Undertaker and Triple H avenging his family. Like several other Wrestlemania shows, there was a blend of past, present and future stars fused with celebrity involvement. The Rock returned once again to headline with John Cena, but this time for the title. Given Rock’s current career in Hollywood, his involvement in a wrestling match these days is always greeted with a mix of anticipation and apprehension. Make no mistake about it, Rock’s last two Wrestlemania matches weren’t about a veteran star returning. Instead, Rock has become a celebrity guest in an effort designed to attract mainstream attention.

Unfortunately, Rock suffered a very serious abdominal injury during his championship match with John Cena. Abdominal muscles were torn off the bone, and he also suffered a hernia. This comes at a bad time as Rock is about to begin filming Hercules, as well as do promotional work for the newest Fast and Furious movie. One can only imagine the concern on all sides going forward. The Rock has a life away from wrestling to keep up, and his future involvement with WWE may now be over with for good.

A group of wrestling fans cried foul over the injury Rock suffered. The day after Wrestlemania saw websites reporting Rock’s absence from that night’s show, while some went as far to assert that Rock was no-showing Raw. As the situation became clear, Rock had left due to his injuries because he could clearly not participate in the night’s events which were designed to set up a future match with Brock Lesnar. The fact he even finished the match with Cena at all is a miracle. Imagine something like this happening to Lawrence Taylor or Floyd Mayweather. As unfortunate as Rock’s injury is, his determination to finish the match has to be commended.

An article from the Bleacher Report claimed that Rock’s injury proves part-time performers should not be headlining pay per views. That’s funny, nobody has had issues with The Undertaker doing just that the last few Wrestlemania shows. This article wasn’t so much a knock on Rock, but it did take jabs at him for his injury, and it claimed that part-time performers acting as “ambassadors of the sport” by getting championships is a no-no. What these critics need to remember is that injuries happen regardless of how often somebody wrestles. Just look at CM Punk. He’s a full-time performer in the ring at Wrestlemania with the part-time Undertaker. Yet Punk was the one who came out of the match hurting, not Taker. Full-time guys get hurt all the time. Even champions are not immune to it. How about the pectoral injury John Cena suffered in 2007 while he was champion? That threw the company’s top feud into disarray just days before a big pay per view match between Cena and Randy Orton. Now some people will say that it’s different because it’s John Cena, and that was a freak accident. How about Shawn Michaels? The Heartbreak Kid may have spent the last few years of his career as a part-time act, but that was not the case when he was gunning for the top spot pre-Attitude Era. He was as full-time as they come. He was given a lengthy run as champion, during which he was injured. HBK’s unfortunate 1997 knee injury saw him forfeit the title, effectively killing the build for Wrestlemania XIII. One year later, his back injury put the Wrestlemania main event in jeopardy yet again. He also missed the previous month’s pay per view, and yet here he was carrying the championship. Injuries happen, even to highly-trained professionals in the events surrounding the biggest match of the year.

All the fire breathed in Rock’s direction seems to tug at something deeper. People were mad that he even won the title. What really lies at the heart of the hate for Rock carrying the belt? Is it that he beat CM Punk? Sure, Punk worked very hard as champion, but he wasn’t going to headline Wrestlemania. It just wasn’t in the cards for him, and most people knew and understood that. There are going to be a select few who were just waiting for something like this injury to happen so they could say they told you so about Rock headlining Wrestlemania. But those people are going to complain and throw their own feces at anything WWE does. It’s just who they are.

Perhaps the real issue is that this whole thing is disappointing. The Rock was supposed to return to WWE, win the title and have this spectacular program with John Cena that would culminate at Wrestlemania. It ended up being very lackluster. The night after Wrestlemania was supposed to set up a huge match between Rock and Brock Lesnar, but that match feels nearly impossible now. Neither guy was even on the show the day after Mania. The road to recovery for Rock will not be easy. It’s one thing to recover so that he can resume his acting career. It’s quite another to get back in the ring so he can mix it up with a former UFC fighter.

In this case, it’s not about how often somebody performs, or their attitude. Those two things have nothing to do with what happened at Wrestlemania. The Rock’s injury says very little about part-time wrestlers, or his character. Instead, it comes down to one very simple, but terrible truth: Sometimes things go wrong, and when they do, it sucks.

Matt O’Brien is the former writer of “Notes from the Nosebleeds” on Wrestleview.com.