Whether you love or hate The Rock, there is no questioning the positive impact the wrestling legend’s return to the WWE has had already and will continue to have as long as he is working with the company.
Despite the very obvious benefits of having a bona fide star like The Rock on hand, there reportedly is a strong contingent of wrestlers and officials that do not like the presence of the part-time Superstar or have been less than thrilled with his performance.
According to F4WOnline (h/t Wrestling Inc.), the complaints from people backstage about The Rock surfaced after his promo during the go-home show for Elimination Chamber:
There was a backstage feeling at RAW last night that The Rock did not get the job done during his final promo going into the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. The pay-per-view is expected to do good business just because it's the Rock vs. CM Punk rematch.
The promo The Rock cut wasn’t his best, but it was a very funny story and it showed exactly what kind of champion the WWE Universe has on its hands. The crowd was entertained, and the ending of the show was great, but certain stars are looking to complain.
Judging from the television ratings (h/t Wrestling Inc.) and the fact that the episodes of Raw and SmackDown featuring The Rock have the mainstream media buzzing, the current WWE champion is opening more eyes to the product.
In a separate report earlier in February from PWTorch editor Wade Keller, The Rock and the WWE locker room have been at odds with each other, resulting in the WWE champion taking several public jabs at those that don’t like his presence:
Rock is said to have no allies from the current locker room. Rock has isolated himself behind-the-scenes, which is due to how he feels he's been treated since returning to WWE and so that he can tend to other business affairs. But, there are also stories of how Rock has gone out of his way to talk to wrestlers and offer advice. It's a touchy situation, almost on a case-by-case basis how certain wrestlers receive him, which has led to mixed feelings about Rock's presence in WWE.
Rock senses it. According to backstage sources, Rock feels like he's being scrutinized by the current locker room. After his memorable pre-match promo during the Rumble PPV, Rock carried himself like, 'How do you like that everyone who doubts me?' There was an extra spring in his step, which some observers took as either adrenaline before the match or arrogance. As an "outsider," it came across like Rock telling people, 'Don't forget that I can do that. Now, you step up and do it.'
The Rock used Twitter to express what could be viewed as a sarcastic tone toward those not sold on his return to the WWE:
Dwayne Johnson @TheRock
Thank U @WWE Superstars for the awesome welcoming me back & getting the "big picture" plan. You're true locker room leaders! #RoadToMania2013-2-3 01:46:14
Dwayne Johnson @TheRock
@wnwnews Well said. Great to see so many guys backstage understand that what's best for business is best for everyone. Especially the fans.2013-2-4 14:26:37
Many of the complaints stem from The Rock acting too "Hollywood" backstage or believing he returned just to promote his movies, but the reason behind his return honestly shouldn’t matter to anyone but the WWE champion and Vince McMahon.
The WWE Superstars should see the fact that the numbers are ascending—both in television ratings and pay-per-view buys—and thank The Rock for helping to draw more mainstream attention to the product.
More eyes on the WWE means more money will be spent on the product, which means better paychecks for everyone involved.
How This Helps WWE
The same wrestlers that have an issue with The Rock’s return and his push to the title are likely the exact same stars that say a guy like John Cena gets too much of a push during the year.
Both men put the fans in the seats, and whether the Superstars backstage or the officials inside the WWE like it or not, The Rock and Cena will continue to be billed in the main event because that’s what people would pay to see.
The WWE is a business first and foremost, and The Rock knows the entertainment industry inside and out now. There is no question he is back to promote his movies, just like Y2J promoted his band Fozzy or Mick Foley promotes his books.
It’s true that when The Rock is in the WWE that most eyes are on him instead of the younger talent, but what people are failing to take into consideration is all the other eyes that normally wouldn’t watch WWE TV that are tuning in just to see The Rock.
The WWE is counting on the fact that in The Rock’s short time back with the company, he will be able to sway as many of the causal wrestling fans into becoming hardcore fans and as many non-fans into becoming casual fans.
On the surface, the deal between the WWE and The Rock looks like an exchange of advertising movies for boosted ratings, but The Rock’s presence will only help build the brand moving forward.
The up-and-coming WWE Superstars should thank The Rock for all the new fans the company will have when he's gone because of the champion’s latest run.
The Rock is not stealing anyone’s job by returning to the WWE, nor is he holding any of the younger talent down. The Rock is simply in the WWE to make as much money for himself and the company during the road to WrestleMania.
Despite the reported resentment from some backstage officials and superstars, The Rock is helping to build the long-term success of the company. The more people that tune into WWE programming over the next six weeks, the higher the chance that the average weekly viewers will continue to trend upward.
When The Rock leaves after WrestleMania and heads back to shooting movies, the younger talent will then have a chance to shine in front of a bigger audience. Not all fans that watched The Rock’s title run will continue to watch, but enough should that the risk will be worth the reward.
The more viewers WWE gets equals more money from the advertisers and thus, that money gets put back into the product in the form of higher wages and better conditions. It’s basic economics that the Superstars backstage can’t figure out.
The Rock knows exactly what he’s doing, and the Superstars smart enough to show him respect for what he’s doing for the betterment of the business are the ones ahead of the curve.
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