NOTE: This article was originally posted by me on TheWebsiteofDOOM.com
In what has become an unstoppable growing beast of promo on RAW, the John Cena vs. The Rock match at Wrestelemania is building up with aplomb. We all expected this to happen, in what was an unusual step, they announced the match a year ago. They're obviously hoping this "generation versus generation" fight will sell some Pay-Per-View tickets. What we probably weren't expecting though was how this promo battle has been going.
For one, it has been much more personal than anyone could have realized.
If you have been listening to any interviews from wrestlers over the last few years, it is pretty obvious that the majority of the locker room has a real problem with retired wrestlers coming back for one big pay cheque at Wrestlemania, stealing what they consider to be their spot/limelight. It's understandable. These guys on the roster do regular work everynight at house shows and tapings week in and week out having to endure all the troubles of life on the road. If someone who doesn't do that work turns up and steals the show at a big event... it would stick in your craw.
John Cena has gone on record to say this sort of thing in the past and, in what seems to be an ever increasing trend on RAW, has decided to shoot about this in his build up to Wrestlemania. This is a brave move for a couple of reasons. First of all the fans love Rock, and considering Cena's already rocky relationship with the crowd (no pun intended) they could have turned on him further. The WWE still don't want a heel Cena. It's also brave because Rock isn't a wrestler any more. He doesn't need this. He has legitimately become bigger than the WWE and if you push his buttons enough, one can only assume he won't come back. So I have to say, I thought it was ballsy of Cena to take this angle and I did not expect that from a guy who has been sailing along for quite some time in the company.
But most of all, what no-one saw coming is that Rock is losing. Badly.
Like I said before, Dwayne Johnson is no longer a wrestler. He's a successful movie star. And, concordantly, he's rusty in the ring. It was evident two weeks ago when he came back and did a rather meandering, boring promo. It was even more evident when Cena pipe-bombed him with the comment about the notes written on Rock's wrist.
This was embarrassing for all involved. It was clear that it has also hit a nerve with Rocky. He was flustered and visibly agitated directly afterwards and this week on RAW stepped up his game. Unfortunately his game is still sidelined to pre-recorded pieces but these taped sections genuinely reminded me of the Rocky of old. Attitude era cursing and all.
As a side note: I don't mind the cursing at all and in a way I miss it a little but it really stood out on a show that has been doing it's best to stay kid friendly. The fact that they let Rock away with it so much goes to show the amount of sway he has with Vince and must have been something Rock argued for.
So at the moment it definitely seems like Rock's back is against the wall. There is more than just a big money match at stake here. Essentially it's Rock's reputation on the line now. At the moment he's looking foolish in front of the fans that adore him but as everyone knows, WWE fans are some of the most fickle in the world. That adoration could turn to derision very quickly unless he improves quickly. Wrist memos and taped segments on the street are not going to cut it.
It's going to make for a very interesting run up to Wrestlemania.