One thing you can say with near certainty: This month’s Royal Rumble event is going to be a huge success and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will be why.
We’ve seen evidence of this already.
With his return to the company—he’s heading for a showdown with WWE champion CM Punk at the pay-per-view—he has helped shake up and rejuvenate a struggling Raw product.
He’s also turned around the brand’s floundering ratings—as PWTorch.com noted, last week’s show did a terrific number, the best in many months, in fact. No doubt the interest will continue well into the pay-per-view and beyond. People truly are enthusiastic about Rock’s latest return.
Another reason that the Royal Rumble will surely do a good number is Rock’s widespread mainstream appeal.
Thanks to the huge success of films like The Game Plan, Fast Five and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, he is now one of Hollywood’s most successful leading men—Forbes recently listed him as among the highest earners in the movie industry.
He has now become a household name in America—more so than any other name in wrestling history.
With this in mind, Rock’s involvement at the event, and the tantalizing prospect of him leaving as WWE champion, should garner WWE heavy publicity from the likes of TMZ, Entertainment Tonight, New York Post, etc.
Hey, we’ve seen it before: at last year’s WrestleMania, Rock vs. John Cena bout did astronomical figures at the box office (via WWE.com), partly thanks to the intense interest that has always surrounded “The Great One.”
Throw in the additional novelty of the title (can you imagine the likes of Tom Cruise or Bradley Cooper competing for and winning a wrestling belt?), and the Royal Rumble is almost guaranteed to get enough publicity to garner it a great buy-rate.
Rock has also helped make CM Punk’s reign more relevant than it ever has been before. Sure, Punk spent all of 2012 with the WWE Championship, but plummeting ratings indicated his lengthy run wasn’t exactly taking off with the masses.
However, thanks to his program with The Rock, his reign now looks like a huge deal. Fans can’t wait to see the actor take the belt from him. Part of Rock’s ability is to make his opponents come off as big stars, too.
Of course, all this is not to suggest there are no drawbacks to using Rock in such a prominent position.
You have to wonder if building the company around a part-timer, one who will likely be gone after WrestleMania, is the smartest move to make. Especially considering all the younger stars, like Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler, who desperately need help reaching the next plateau.
Sure, Rock is performing superbly right now, but it’s not like he’s going to be around long-term.
And after he does go back to Hollywood, WWE is still going to be stuck with a tough three-hour Raw format and a lukewarm, critically panned product. Will anything have really changed for the company come the days and weeks after WrestleMania?
However, ultimately, the prospect of using a talent like the Rock, even short-term, is simply too terrific to pass up.
Sure, Rock won’t solve all the company’s problems, but who says he has to? Helping turn around the company, for a short while at least, and making the Royal Rumble a must-see pay-per-view, which he will do, is more than enough.