After more than three months away from the WWE, The Rock was back in front of a live crowd on Monday Night’s RAW, as The Road To WrestleMania leads ever closer to his date with destiny with John Cena in Miami.
It was The Great One‘s first live appearance since last year’s Survivor Series PPV and the Portland crowd were itching to see The Most Electrifying Man In Entertainment. But did Rocky get the better of his WrestleMania opponent, or did Cena have the last laugh? Keep reading to find out…
You could feel the anticipating growing for The Rock throughout Monday’s RAW show – indeed, several graphics hyping The Brahma Bull’s appearance garnered bigger pops from the crowd than most of the wrestlers competing in the ring managed. The audience were ready for a jolt of electricity, and The Rock certainly wasn’t going to disappoint.
His first appearance came about halfway through the show, showing up on the TitanTron in a small segment after John Cena’s victory over The Miz. The Rock was shown backstage, watching Cena on a monitor, as the crowd went wild. Without saying a word, Rocky had the crowd in the palm of his hand; a hand he would use to mock Cena’s ‘You Can’t See Me’ gesture as well as pulling an imaginary curtain down over the screen as we faded to black.
Later in the night, after an incredibly short main event that pitted The Big Show and Sheamus against Cody Rhodes and Mark Henry, the moment the wrestling world had been waiting for finally arrived. The audience anticipated the imminent arrival, chanting ‘Rocky’ over and over. The music hit and the fans erupted as The Rock made his way to the ring in a sleeveless ‘Boots 2 Asses’ t-shirt.
As he soaked up the cheers as only The Rock can, The People’s Champion looked genuinely moved, a point he backed up by showing the camera the goosebumps on his arm.
The Rock stalled, looked at the fans, stalled some more, then let the people chant his name. For a brief moment, it seemed like The Rock was going to pull a trick out of the Jericho playbook and leave us all hanging, and, in all honesty, if WWE had really wanted the fans to cheer Cena, having The Rock come back and say nothing at all would have made Rocky the biggest heel in the industry.
What we eventually got was an almost 20-minute verbal beat down of his WrestleMania opponent, which did a lot to increase interest in their upcoming showdown. It’s bizarre to think that this match has been almost a year in the making. They’ve had the longest time to add to the already sky high expectations, yet Monday night was the first time that I personally felt that their WrestleMania match became must see.
I could have personally done without all of the twitter-related nonsense (I doubt making Kung Pao Chicken trend worldwide will equate to PPV buys, but what do I know?), but this was a powerful and emotive promo from one of the greatest promo-men the industry has ever seen. The Rock’s delivery puts just about everybody on the roster to shame, as he makes things seem real, dammit, almost unscripted.
As we all probably know by now though, The Rock certainly was following a script … the one he had scribbled all over his arm. Yes, it seems even The Great One needs a little help from time to time, a fact that Cena was more than happy to point out during his retort.
Cena’s response to The Rock probably said more in the two or three minutes he had than Rocky had managed to say in the previous twenty. His calling out of The Rock on his crib notes really seemed to rattle him. Whether this was scripted or a shoot comment seems to be up for debate and we will likely never know for sure, but it made for a great moment that finally gave Cena a small dose of validation. Indeed, by the time Cena left the ring, his approval rating with the live crowd seemed to have increased tenfold.
This time last week I would have said Cena gets booed out of the building in Miami, but now? Now, there is genuine intrigue. Now Cena’s claims against The Rock seem a lot more credible, and he may just have swayed some of the fans over to his way of thinking.
One final point that I picked up on that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere else; at one point it seemed as though The Rock was addressing the rumours that certain wrestlers in the back were upset with his return. He made several remarks about ‘somebody in the back’ when talking about the fact that he isn’t at the arena every week. He could, of course, have simply been talking about Cena with regards to his comments last week. The Rock would later go on to address Cena directly though, so maybe these comments were directed at somebody else. The Rock actually said ‘you know who I’m talking to’, but will we ever really know exactly who he was talking about?
There is still a long month ahead of us before WrestleMania XXVIII, and I’m sure there will be many more twists and turns in this storyline before then. For now though, Cena seems to have a lot more traction than he once had, and it will be interesting to see whether he builds on this next Monday (with The Rock unscheduled to appear) or whether all the hard work will be undone with another ‘Rocks not here, man’ promo. As things stand, I’ll say slight advantage to Cena despite a very strong, almost nostalgic promo from The Rock.
This article was written by Chris Pilkingon.