Home > Uncategorized > WrestleRock rumble: John Cena vs. The Rock to headline WrestleMania 28 in Miami

WrestleRock rumble: John Cena vs. The Rock to headline WrestleMania 28 in Miami

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Verne Gagne's dream of a stadium-filled Rock 'n' Wrestling card will finally be realized in Miami at WrestleMania 28.

While the payoff to the recent series of promos between The Rock and John Cena rock bottomed in most fans’ eyes when the announcement was made on Monday’s RAW that two of the biggest stars of the last 20 years would  FINALLY meet at the 2012 WrestleMania in Miami–a year away–I couldn’t help but think it was a stroke of genius.

The consensus the last few months was that if Rock were indeed interested in working another match he’d have stepped into the ring this year for a rather star-starved WrestleMania main event. Truth is, perhaps even Dwayne Johnson didn’t envision such a scenario when he agreed to return to WWE to host the event and garner mainstream publicity–and perhaps give WWE champion Miz a bit of a superstar rub along with way to establish his credibility as a player, a concept plenty of fans still aren’t willing to buy into. (That, of course, didn’t happen anyway, as The Rock introduced The Miz to his role when he laid the smack down on his candy ass post-match in the Georgia Dome.)

From most accounts, after The Rock’s initial live promo on RAW, something changed. In the past, Johnson has often commented about missing the incredible adrenaline rush of having tens of thousands of fans in the palm of your hand. Clearly, the bug never left him. More and more over the last several weeks, he began opening up about his desire to get more physically involved heading into the biggest show on the biggest stage. Slowly, it became obvious this wasn’t a one-shot deal, despite his hectic Hollywood schedule in the coming year. The more he spoke to the mainstream media, and the more the promos between he and Cena became increasingly personal, The Rock had the look of the man who was dying to work one last match while still in fantastic shape and not a mere shell of his former self.


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I speculated that perhaps Cena would win the title Sunday, setting up the Champ vs. the People’s Champ at SummerSlam in Los Angeles. While it wouldn’t have the same magnitude of a ‘Mania match, the Hollywood press would be all over the event, and WWE would have months to put the finishing touches on the People’s Program. Turns out, in Vince McMahon’s world, I was thinking much too small. In one of the most ambitious moves he’s made for his biggest card of the year, McMahon booked the “dream” match-up 12 months ahead of time. While past WrestleMania main events back in the day were certainly planned 10 to 12 months in advance (Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage at ‘Mania V immediately comes to mind) and booked “backward,” this marks the first time in history the main bout has been announced to the public this far in advance. If you think about it, the fact that this is the first main event I can recall ever revealed to the fans this far ahead of time makes it all the more special. (Really, it became obvious early on that the Macho Man and the Hulkster were headed for a date with destiny following Savage’s WWF title win at ‘Mania IV–Hogan’s “lustful eyes” for Ms. Elizabeth were that apparent.)

You can see this...next year.

One possible reason for the WM28 reveal is that perhaps the company is looking to a future when Cena’s remaining fans will be moving on to the next thing–like, y’know, puberty and girls. The longtime Champ will be another year older by then, looking all the more ridiculous in his gimmick, which to this day reminds me of the 1991 act of Jamie Dundee and Wolfie D, the rapping team in Memphis known as PG-13. (Much like The Rock, I also ran those two delinquents out of town as part of “Operation White Trash” initiative.)

With next year’s ‘Mania scheduled to be in The Rock’s town of Miami, Cena is sure to be booed out of Sun Life Stadium, scurrying from the taunts and debris with his head tucked between his jorts. While the company has been hesitant to turn Cena because of his incredible appeal to kids–and his even more impressive merchandise sales–truth is, the guy will be red hot when the inevitable heel turn happens. Booking the match a year out might be an ideal way to build to a turn to the dark side over the next year as Cena becomes more and more obnoxious (hard to fathom, I realize). We got a glimpse of this when he attacked Rock on RAW two weeks ago and mugged for the camera. This gradual turn as Cena becomes increasingly frustrated with his heel reaction could be money in the bank.

Either way, Vince & Co. have people talking–and this time, for the right reasons. Rock was on Leno last night already chatting up the match while promoting his new movie. Ticket sales will go through the roof. If handled correctly, and if Rocks’ schedule allows, WWE could potentially build this up as the biggest match in company history. It’s risky, no doubt, given potential injuries (Cena’s pectorals are always suspect) and Rock’s priorities changing once again between now and then–but the payoff could be huge. Supposedly, this was a last-second decision Monday to go ahead with the announcement of the match a year out, but it’s something that’s clearly been on McMahon’s mind as a way to top himself yet again.

When thinking of Vince’s approach since day one with WrestleMania, I’m reminded of the classic line uttered by “Las Vegas-born” Universal Heartthrob Austin Idol shortly after cutting Jerry Lawler’s hair in 1987, when he “risked” $50,000 of his own money to refund the price of admission to the fans in the event he didn’t win the match and cut the King’s royal locks: “I grew up spinning the roulette wheel, dah-ling! I’ve been a gambler since the day I was born, and I’ll be a gambler till the day I die!”

With the stakes never higher since the first WrestleMania, Cena vs. Rock on PPV could be the biggest jackpot yet…with a full house to boot.

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