When it became official last week that The Rock and John Cena will do battle at WrestleMania for the second consecutive year, there seemed to be a mixed reaction.
Many of the fringe fans love it due to the star power involved, while the hardcore fans don't want to see a rematch. Expectations seem to be low for their WrestleMania XXIX encounter, but I expect a fantastic effort from both men.
As huge as The Rock vs. Cena was last year and as successful as it was from a monetary standpoint, the most vocal fans really seemed to dislike it.
The fact that the match was announced one year in advance likely had a lot to do with that. Also, many fans felt like The Rock wasn't prepared for the rigors of the match, so it may not have been as good as it could have been.
I personally enjoyed the feud and the match because I didn't attempt to micro-analyze it. Their promos were hit and miss last year, but there seemed to be a genuine dislike that fueled their rivalry.
The WrestleMania XXVIII match may not have been the best-wrestled bout of all time, but the atmosphere was electric and that made up for a lot of shortcomings.
Ultimately most fans were probably glad that the match happened because it was cool to see the face of the current era take on one of the faces of the Attitude Era.
With that said, I'm not sure how many wanted to see it happen again. When The Rock beat Cena last year, though, many came to the realization that a rematch was a very real possibility.
The Rock went on to beat CM Punk for the WWE Championship at Royal Rumble and Cena won the Rumble battle royal, so "once in a lifetime" is going to happen twice.
Some hoped that Punk would find his way into the match in order to make it a triple threat, but the WWE ultimately made the right move by pitting him against The Undertaker instead. This provides the WrestleMania XXIX card with a considerable amount of depth.
Monday night marked the start of the second feud between The Rock and Cena, and I was extremely impressed. Detractors of The Rock have been calling for him to be more serious and they got what they asked for. The Rock cracked some jokes about how cold it was in Buffalo, N.Y., but he was all business when Cena interrupted him and claimed that he would beat The Rock for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania.
Last year's feud came off as each man trying to one-up each other and make their counterpart look foolish. Cena was the main culprit as he would often no-sell The Rock's promos and laugh things off.
Cena did try to do that a couple times Monday, but The Rock got in Cena's face and was extremely forceful. It was a powerful moment for both men. The WWE did a great job reigniting the flame.
It seems like the WWE is taking the redemption route as Cena is trying to avenge his loss from last year. In that regard, this feud is much different.
The Rock and Cena were on equal footing last time, so there was an obsession on the WWE's part to not make one guy look stronger than the other. The Rock is being made to look superior thus far and the WWE seems to be building Cena as the underdog to some degree.
Although it's obvious that Cena is the favorite in actuality, the WWE wants to create some doubt. The diehard fans are never going to buy Cena as an underdog since the sentiment is that he'll get revenge at WrestleMania and win the WWE Championship.
The fringe fans can be manipulated, though, and the WWE realizes that. To them, The Rock probably does come off as the favorite due to the fact that he won last year.
Whatever the case, I'm convinced that the feud and match between The Rock and Cena will be better this year. The fact that their rivalry lasted so long last year was a negative more than it was a positive.
By the time The Rock actually returned and appeared on television regularly, much of the fanbase was already worn out by the Cena vs. Rock talk that had consumed the previous several months.
This feud seems to be much more spur of the moment despite the fact that it has obviously been in the works for a year.
Also, the personal factor is still present and both men seem more focused. They're fully aware of what worked and what didn't in 2012, so I have to believe that they're better prepared and will be locked in over the next month.
As for the match itself, I have high hopes.
Their WrestleMania XXVIII match was solid in my book, but The Rock certainly labored at points. Aside from a tag-team match at Survivor Series 2011, though, The Rock hadn't competed in a real match in several years. The Rock has two matches against Punk under his belt heading into WrestleMania XXIX, though, so I'm sure that he is in a much better place from a physical standpoint.
When you throw in the fact that this match has higher stakes due to the WWE Championship being on the line there is little doubt in my mind that the entire package is better this year.
The only negative is that the probability of The Rock winning is extremely low, so the outcome is fairly obvious.
Most of the matches on the card are predictable, though, so it isn't much different from any other bout in that regard. It's understandable that there are fans out there that want to see something new and different. While The Rock vs. Cena is technically a rematch, there is an entirely different dynamic this time around.
The early indicators suggest that the sequel will be better than the original, so it's best to have an open mind rather than expecting it to be awful. If you don't make an effort to enjoy it, then Rock vs. Cena II will ultimately be a self-fulfilling prophecy for all of its naysayers.