Not 24 hours removed from WrestleMania 27, announcing the likely WrestleMania 28 main event of the Rock vs. John Cena has caused quite a stir and is drawing some serious venom from many fans online.
This admittedly bold move by WWE’s top brass is actually a brilliant stroke and for the life of me I cannot fathom why this would not register as anything but positive for all fans: casual, die-hard, returning or long-time.
I've heard all of the criticism, and frankly it all falls pretty flat. Yes, there could be an injury. But injuries can happen at any time. This match could have been announced two months ahead of time and an injury could derail it with just as much ease. Companies cannot make long-term decisions based on chance circumstances that are already inherent risks in its particular industry.
It's also true that WWE has no recent experience with long term build, but chastising the company for doing something new in the face of long standing criticism that things happen too quickly in the week-to-week world of wrestling, or the product has become too predictable, are contradictory arguments to the very changes for which so many fans have rallied.
One of the flat-out dumbest complaints has been arguing against the WWE's ability to maintain interest. WrestleMania 28 was going to happen anyway and the speculation on it would start around summer regardless of any announced matches. As if fans aren't going to care about 'Mania. Please. It's Wrestlemania! It's a huge event with or without 12 months notice of a main event.
There is a series of positives to this development that is seemingly lost on many of the short-sighted and jaded fans who prefer their untested armchair booking to the judgment of a major company that is actually successful at what it does.
The best news out of this situation is that the Rock is sticking around. He will not be at every Raw or every PPV, which is a good thing, but let's all celebrate the fact that one of the greatest of all time is not just dropping off the face of the Earth. WWE with the Rock in any capacity is better than no Rock at all.
His involvement is also a great hook for the fan who once strayed and the new potential fan who may have tuned in to Wrestlemania this year for the first time. With no real WrestleMania lull this time around, the new or returning fan has had anticipation planted and can see a reason to tune in as the build develops.
In the past, it has simply been a case of getting new or returning eyes on 'Mania and then asking those new viewers to take it or leave it the following Monday night. This announcement asks the opposite and creates a long term "must-see" atmosphere that is all but saying the obvious "stay tuned."
This situation also provides WWE creative with a forced agenda that will require the smart use of other talent. Since a championship is unnecessary for Rock/Cena, the WWE title picture will have to be populated by a strong group of fresh faces.
Randy Orton is the only really experienced main event level performer underneath Cena which means that performers such as C.M. Punk, John Morrison, Dolph Ziggler, Shaemus and others have a fantastic opportunity.
The Miz is already in the main event mix, and this all but guarantees he'll be staying there.
Within the context of the Rock/Cena story itself, we can also look forward to a number of twists and turns. Considering that Rock will be making sporadic appearances, the story will have time to simmer rather than be forced down our throats. This eliminates the possibility of overexposure and fan fatigue.
Add the intrigue of side issues that may distract both men and threaten to alter the course and you have a remarkably nuanced journey that avoids the typical pitfalls of the rushed three to four week storytelling this modern era seems to demand.
Other advantages include an easy sell out in Miami for both 'Mania and the Hall of Fame, continued mainstream buzz at a higher than average level, higher bidding by cities wanting in on future WrestleMania hosting rights, and increased sponsorship opportunities as advertisers clamor to capitalize on the promise of being a part of the Rock's last match ever.
Have we forgotten about that last part?
This looks to be the real send-off we never had seven years ago. The Rock never had an official retirement match and he definitely deserves an opportunity to pay his respects to the business, have fans pay respect to him, and go out in fitting style. There was always something that felt unfinished about Rock's hugely successful run. This is closure.
We now have a year to see it finish the right way. That will be one hell of a moment at WrestleMania 28 in his hometown of Miami. How in the hell can any real fan fault this announcement when what we see on the horizon is an emotional and deserved moment involving one of the best talents the business has ever seen?
There is no mistake made here. WWE knows what it's doing. Rock knows what he's doing. Cena knows what he's doing. We as fans just have to sit back and enjoy it.
Is that really so hard?
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