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Between The Rock and a Hard Place: Pros and Cons of The Rock Returning

The Rock an edition of WWE Raw.

There are Pros and Cons to The Rock returning, notably if he is slated to face Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 40 instead of another less high-profile premium live event. Some of the industry’s top insiders believe that may still happen, but the safest bet is that if Rock is back and available, he will be at WrestleMania and change everyone’s plans.

What that will look like for the rest of the roster is anyone’s guess. The WWE can handle Rocky’s return in a wide array of ways, and all of them will affect different people differently. Regardless of how WWE looks to book this massive return match, the question that has yet to be asked is, should they?

Pro: One of a Few Dream Matches Left

The term dream match gets thrown around a lot now, and often adeptly for a particular pocket of the wrestling fandom. Konosuke Takeshita vs. Kazuchika Okada or Seth Rollins vs. Bron Breakker are matches that specific segments of fans are desperate to see happen.

In that way, they are a dream match. They would be excellent bouts for the fans to enjoy between stars who are very good at professional wrestling. Both matches lack something that puts it into the next gear.

Both are missing a truly generational feel between two living legends. Dream matches for a time included Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg, Jon Moxley vs Kenny Omega, or The Undertaker vs Sting. All of which are clashes of industry greats, either at the top of different promotions or who never competed simultaneously. 

Roman Reigns vs. The Rock is that match, and it may be the biggest one available. Nobody in the history of professional wrestling is a bigger mainstream star than Dwayne Johnson; his movie career has essentially made that bar impossible to surpass.

Likewise, Roman Reigns is the world champion of the top global wrestling promotion. The fact that he has held that position for years only further cements his position as one of the biggest stars in wrestling today and certainly the best that WWE has on the roster.

The fact that the two are related and Roman has been running a year-long angle with the rest of their family only adds to the match’s prestige. Truthfully, nobody in wrestling can come close to the star power and intrigue this match would have. That would make it hard to pass up and tempting to have as a WrestleMania moment. 

Con: Part-Timers Holding Talent Down

The Rock isn’t back for good. He will go off to make a new television show or movie, start a sports league, or run the free world before long and leave the WWE behind him. Roman Reigns isn’t even back for good. While the Hollywood career he envisions may not materialize, he has plenty of downtime compared to the rest of the WWE roster.

Both Rock and Roman are part-timers. Both have let everyone else build WWE into the hottest it’s been in a decade. Sending them to the top to reap the rewards of that hard work may only sit well with some, and not especially with loyal fans. 

LA Knight, Cody Rhodes, Sami Zayn, and Kevin Owens come to mind. These are just some of the people who could lose a shot at a WrestleMania moment, or a match altogether, with Rock returning. After building Raw and SmackDown up with the rest of the roster, to be given placeholder feuds or nothing on the biggest show would be a tragedy.

It wouldn’t emphasize the need to perform either; an appearance in Hobbs and Shaw would be just as likely to get them the top spot as working on the road for an entire year.

When The Rock became the biggest star in the industry, Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior didn’t return to take the spotlight, which may be why he gained his acclaim. The promotion doesn’t likely need the assist with ticket sales, and Rock’s return could come at a cost to building the next generation of icons. 

Pro: Enhanced Main Stream Media Attention 

Even under its new leadership, WWE is always looking for mainstream coverage. The pros and cons to The Rock returning must include a consideration that everyone will discuss. Even his quick appearance on WWE Raw’s Day 1 show garnered attention from wrestling fans, outlets, and accounts that broadly cover movies or sports.

He is an A-list celebrity guest that everyone can get behind because he put in the work over the years with the promotion. He spans multiple fanbases, all of whom respect him dearly, and can get any interview or appearance he wants to promote upcoming projects. 

Ignoring the idea of diminishing returns, The Rock will get massive press regardless of where his match takes place. That means they can use his name and connections to get everyone in wrestling, sports, and movies to pay attention to one show of WWE’s choosing. No other star on the roster can do that with the ease that Rocky can.

Additionally, a show that has more lapsed or curious fans has the opportunity to create some new interest in the product, provided they can deliver a fun and captivating show. More coverage roughly equates to more viewers, and more viewers means more money and fans.

It is why nostalgia always does well in WWE, and Rock is the pinnacle of that model. His return to end WWE’s biggest story would ensure a lot of attention was placed on it. 

Con: Fail Again to Finish The Story

WWE landed in a bit of hot water online at the end of WrestleMania 39. After building to the somewhat apparent fairytale ending of Cody Rhodes finishing his father’s story, that did not happen.

While Cody and Roman Reigns have had significant moments since then, their stories have cooled a bit after putting the finale off for another year. History could repeat itself with the Rock coming into a match against Reigns, possibly at WrestleMania 40. The biggest match in the company could come at the cost of years of booking and fans’ time. 

Putting off or rushing the Cody story will feel like a failure, perhaps even a punishment to some fans. After investing a considerable amount of time in this story to rush to or delay an ending would betray that investment and the fan’s patience. The idea is that enough new or casual fans could make up for any longtime fans who end up angry.

Additionally, committed fans will almost certainly watch WrestleMania 40 regardless, so angry social posts are the worst-case scenario. Still, failing to deliver on years-long stories will negatively impact the trust that Triple H and his team have built up with the fans. That could have impacts long after Dwayne Johnson returns to his Hollywood lifestyle. 

Balancing the Pros and Cons of The Rock Returning

When considering the pros and cons of The Rock returning, it is clear that Rocky provides more significant upside than downside from a business standpoint. He is a vital part of one of the last great dream matches, and he can command the media attention that WWE craves, particularly during the WrestleMania season.

That some fans, who will likely watch anyway, feel displeased won’t matter in those calculations. However, the short-term upside doesn’t make it the best narrative fit for a year’s worth of television.  If WWE can’t balance the fan’s expectations with this, though, it could be a long-term problem when the bright lights of WrestleMania 40 go black. 

More From LWOS Pro Wrestling

Header photo – WWE – Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can check out an almost unlimited array of WWE content on the WWE Network and Peacock.

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