A lot of people have compared the showdown of Rock and John Cena to that of the match between Hollywood Hogan and Rock at Wrestlemania 18 in 2002.
It’s a fair comparison in my opinion. In both cases we have two larger than life wrestling figures on a collision course. In one guy we have the “younger lion” who is the “it-guy” at the moment and the face of the company. In the other guy, we have a man who was once the face of the company and the “it-guy” during his era.
There are differences between the two feuds and these differences make the comparisons seem minor. The biggest difference: Rock and Cena are not going to have a match or even throw punches at Wrestlemania. Cena is the face of the WWE and he is going to be the face of this company for years to come. The WWE gains nothing if the Rock gives the People’s Elbow to Cena. What happens when Rock leaves again and doesn’t show his face on Raw till next year. Cena will be on Raw next week and the week after.
The WWE knows this and that is why Cena’s hand will be raised by the Rock at the conclusion of his match with the Miz. Rock is going to do for Cena what Hogan did for the Rock nine years ago. It’s time to pass the torch to the young lion.
Now is this the popular decision? No, fans and even I would love to see Rock and Cena brawl at Wrestlemania. That’s exactly what the WWE seems to be building toward. It may be the popular decision now, but it’s not for the future.
You know what is interesting about this whole Cena-Rock dynamic, if this feud would have taken place in late 2002, early 2003, the Rock is the one who would be getting booed.
Let’s rewind the clocks back to when Cena was doing his rapping gimmick and was a heel. He was so good at being a heel that fans actually cheered him. His raps before matches were insanely good and fans just couldn’t get enough of them. During this exact time, the Rock came back to the WWE and had a feud with Brock Lesnar. Rock wasn’t a huge face at the time mainly because of his feud with Hogan who was once again sporting the red and yellow. Hogan was a huge face again in the WWE.
If Rock and Cena would have feuded nine years ago, the Rock would have been the one getting booed. It’s just an interesting element to look at. And if they would have feuded then, Cena would have been the people’s choice one. It just so happens, things that are so old become new again. The nostalgia the Rock brings will even make him a hit with the young fans of the WWE who primarily list Cena as their favorite wrestlers.
Don’t get your hopes up when the Rock and Cena are pals and the last image we see of Wrestlemania 27 is them two celebrating in the ring. Cena is way more important to the WWE than the Rock is right now.