After a decent, but somewhat disappointing WrestleMania, the WWE finally gave fans what they wanted. Kinda. After costing John Cena the championship on Sunday, The Rock faced off with the Fruity Pebbles-colored superstar. And as people suspected, the two will face off…one year from now at WrestleMania XXVIII.
While this is huge news, I must admit that the WWE has totally botched the Rock’s return over the last couple of days. First, the main event was a letdown as fans sat on their hands until Rocky made his way to the ring, creating a lackluster crowd for the main event. Then, they teased a countout and had The Rock drop Cena to make him lose the match. The problem was, he got more physical the week before on RAW and fans expected him to do more, even walking away with the belt. I don’t know the behind-the-scenes decisions, but I assume that they had a different ending in place initially, but changed it when The Rock agreed to wrestle one more match next year in order to continue the feud. Still, they should have ended WrestleMania with the epic HHH vs. Undertaker match if Cena/Miz was only going to set up a future match.
Last night was worse. It just didn’t make sense. The Rock wants a fight so bad with Cena that he’s…willing to wait a year for it? Cena is so upset with The Rock for making him lose the belt that he…wants to wait until 2012 for the match? The Atlanta crowd booed Rocky’s challenge because they wanted the match sooner. Clearly, Rock expected a reaction similar to the epic moment he challenged Hulk Hogan to a match, but the decision wasn’t well-received from the live crowd.
They should have gone with a different approach, running an injury angle where The Rock challenged Cena immediately and someone like The Miz “injures” The Rock, putting him out for a year. Or they could have had the General Manager make them wait until WrestleMania next year. But having Cena and The Rock agree to wait a year, makes the whole thing seem kind of weak. When have you ever wanted to fight a guy, stare at him face-to-face and say, “I’m going to kick your ass in 365 days”? The decision also derails the importance of the WWE championship. By agreeing to wrestle Rocky in a year, Cena is essentially forfeiting any chance of winning the Royal Rumble and challenging for the belt at WrestleMania. It would make more sense for him to want to wait and see if he earns a title shot before accepting a challenge from The Rock.
The WWE is taking a huge risk by booking the WrestleMania event a year in advance. What if John Cena gets injured or The Rock has a major movie role? Actually, I think Vince wanted Rocky to announce the match now so he wouldn’t change his mind. It’s ballsy to say the least.
Despite the missteps so far, next year’s match should be a huge, epic encounter in The Rock’s hometown. But, getting there is going to be tricky.