“If you smell…”
The raucous start to the Rock’s music last Friday caught the crowd off guard in Denver, Colorado, who had come to watch the Smackdown wrestling show, known in our country as “Breaking”.
Dwayne Johnson, as is the real name of the actor and former wrestler, for the first time since the fall of 2019 stepped into the ring of the WWE company, where he began his career in show business.
There, The Rock first verbally and then physically humiliated one of the company’s young hopefuls – a wrestler named Austin Thierry, somewhat coming to the aid of commentator Pat McAfee.
The appearance of the Rock did not end here. Cameras later showed him backstage, where he exchanged a brotherly hug with his old adversary and brother-in-law on the wrestling-to-movies journey, John Cena.
Cena himself returned to the wrestling company a few weeks ago with the promise of being on the line for at least a few months. The first thing that looms behind this decision of his is that the strikes of actors and screenwriters in Hollywood do not allow him to work on his acting projects.
So why not make a brief return to the show that made his star and which is unaffected by the aforementioned strikes?
Unlike their fellow actors, both Cena and Johnson have the fallback option of returning to WWE’s wrestling shows, which is welcome for the company itself considering their popularity has swelled significantly with their acting appearances.
And while Cena intends to stick around and has already started on-screen “feuds” with other wrestlers that will likely lead to in-ring matches, The Rock’s appearance could be just another one-off.
WWE is not promoting him for any of their upcoming shows. It is interesting, however, that days before his appearance on Smackdown, The Rock again commented on the possibility of returning to wrestling in an interview with the already mentioned McAfee on his sports show The Pat McAffee.
In the interview, McAfee asked if the fear of injuries that would interfere with the filming of his movies stopped Johnson from returning to wrestling more often.
The Rock responded that the main issue isn’t the risk of injury, or even the WWE schedule, because he has some control over it. The main obstacle is whether he and the company can come up with a suitable idea to bring him back for a match.
“It’s always about the why and what can we create for the fans that hasn’t been done before,” Johnson explains.
The Rock confirmed that he was supposed to face his cousin, Roman Reigns, who has held the top title in the company for over 3 years now and is currently the biggest star there.
The plan was for the mega-show WrestleMania 39, which took place at the beginning of this April in Los Angeles.
At the beginning of 2022, Johnson met with the current president of WWE Nick Kahn and with the chairman of the company – the legendary Vince McMahon.
“We shook hands, hugged each other, said: ‘Let’s do it,'” he explains of the meeting.
They were very close to happening, but again the question was what would be the big story beyond the match so that it didn’t feel like “the end of something, but the beginning”.
The rock may be referring to the fact that Roman Reigns ended up facing not him, but the returning Cody Rhodes, a second-generation wrestler and son of the legend Dusty Rhodes. Although Reigns defended his title, Rhodes’ mere participation in the most important wrestling match of the year elevated him to a higher level.
And Johnson does not rule out the possibility of facing Roman after all.
“There’s WrestleMania in Philadelphia…” he added, referring to next year’s mega-show.
This is the first confirmation that a potential mega-match between The Rock and his cousin has been discussed, but from the words of the Hollywood star, it does not sound like such a match is certain in any way.
The Rock and John Cena before their match at WrestleMania 29 over 10 years ago. For now, this is also the last big match with the actor’s participation.
As much as he plays down the risk of injury, in the same interview he talks about his match with John Cena 10 years ago, at WrestleMania 29. 10 minutes into the match, The Rock feels something “pop” out of his lower abdomen, and then his legs start to go numb.
It turns out that he tore the quadriceps of one of his legs from his pelvis. At the end of the match, he also suffered abdominal wall tears, i.e. three hernias that required operations.
Over the next decade, his appearances become extremely rare and are always relatively monotonous – he fights with some youngster, knocks him out with his popular Rock Push or People’s Elbow moves and leaves. His last such appearance was in 2019, followed by 4 years of silence.
It’s very possible that his appearance in “Breaking Up” will now remain that way, especially if the actors’ and writers’ strikes end soon. If not, maybe the fans will see him in the ring again.
And it is almost certain that the person he will face is today’s big star. His own flesh and blood.