The promotion for Wrestlemania 28 was centered around “Once in a Lifetime”, the tagline for the main event match pitting the current generation’s poster boy, John Cena, against the golden ticket of yesteryear and A-List movie star, The Rock. It wasn’t difficult to see how this angle was a winner for WWE, and was reminiscent of a similar concept 11 years earlier featuring The Rock and Hulk Hogan. Last year’s build-up was entertaining indeed, but the match itself left something to be desired. Ultimately, it was a nice little ride but we were glad when it was over.
When a possible path to a second Wrestlemania encounter between Cena and Rock was laid before our eyes after Dwayne Johnson announced his intentions last summer to once again become WWE Champion at this January’s Royal Rumble, I couldn’t help but gasp in sheer horror. Of course, CM Punk was the champ at the time and in the midst of what would eventually become a historic 434 day reign, but it was clear that the eventual showdown several months later would allow The Rock to relieve him of his title holding duties. After all, WWE wouldn’t have had The Rock make such a bold claim if they weren’t going to put the belt on him at some point.
There were still a slew of options possible for this year’s Wrestlemania main event, many which involved Punk, but the one that kept staring us in the face for months, with The Rock acquiring the championship and John Cena winning the Royal Rumble, causing the rematch and the least interesting of the bunch, is what we ultimately got stuck with.
Before we even get into Wrestlemania 29, what is really irking about this whole situation is that we were basically lied to for a year. All of the hype, the promos, the video packages…hell even the DVD they released on “Once in a Lifetime” is a total sham. To WWE, it doesn’t matter at this point; they got their money from the fans from that match. But when we look back years from now, in a business where nostalgia carries as much weight in terms of the overall fun as the present, it won’t hold an ounce of water.
So what does this all mean for this year’s ‘Mania and why is it so bad? For starters, it signifies that we’re about to get the most predictable outcome for a main event in history. As previously mentioned, John Cena is the guy for WWE. Whereas last year’s hype was drawn from The Rock as a conquering hero returning to former glory, this time around the build is based on Cena’s redemption and getting back to the mountain top. That doesn’t just include losing on last year’s big stage, but almost the entire year since then. For a mat has held the title numerous times, it has been far too long for the company to not have him as their champion. Obviously, he is going to win.
And, oh yeah, there’s the fact that The Rock came out victorious last year and will be leaving to film yet another movie afterward. WWE is practically lobbing us a batting practice fastball here.
What is even more troubling is that The Rock, the man holding the WWE Championship, has been on television only part-time during the build to the rematch of what was dubbed the biggest match of all time. Granted, I understand that Dwayne Johnson is getting paid millions of dollars to be in other countries on Monday nights to shoot movie scenes. I also grasp the concept that Vince McMahon wants to have him carry around the belt all over the world to draw publicity for WWE. As a business move, it is hard to argue against it. Despite that, you can’t have the top guy, the champion of your company, miss half of the televised shows after he wins the title in the lead up to your biggest show of the year.
Simply put, it’s embarrassing. After last year, it is an act that is getting very, very old. I don’t know if the March 18th Raw crowd in Pittsburgh is a good indicator (considering how dead and awful they were all night), but when The Rock was mentioned, a moment that always draws a tremendous pop from the fans, it wasn’t met with the same enthusiasm as usual, and even a smattering of jeers made their way through. Perhaps it was an anomaly, but I wouldn’t be surprised if people are finally starting to get tired of this “here one week, gone the next” shtick.
Possibly the worst part of this entire situation is that we are going to have to sit through this match again, a match that was below average at best the first time around. If it were a couple of other guys, I might have faith it would be better. But with two limited in-ring performers as it is, I’m not holding my breath.
Furthermore, unless if something earth-shattering happens, we’re looking at the same style ending as last year, just the total reverse with Cena coming out on top this time around. As far as something major coming out of the finish, don’t count on it. (People, stop it with the “John Cena turns heel” prediction. It has been used for every big match for like six years now and it’s been wrong every time. Face it: Cena is what he is and is not turning heel.)
So basically, what we are left with here is an average-at-best Wrestlemania 29 main event and a totally predictable outcome with no buildup because one guy isn’t even there.
In other words, prepare for John Cena versus The Rock: Twice in a Lifetime.
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