Last night Mr. McMahon returned to television in the opening segment of Raw to announce that, next week, he would unveil the “guest host” of WrestleMania XXVII. McMahon hyped that “only one man” could host an event so big.
Immediately, the rumor mill started working double time. Fans speculated on names ranging from Brock Lesnar to Randy Savage to Bob Barker. But in my mind, there’s only one person who could live up to the hype, and potentially make the difference between 800,000 people buying the event and 1,000,000.
That man is The Rock.
Other names, like Lesnar or Sting, might be more surprising—but neither would make a good fit in the “guest host” role. Celebrities, like Justin Bieber, might attract some mainstream publicity, but would risk alienating more fans than they would attract.
And so The Rock is the perfect fit—a mainstream celebrity, WWE legend and world class talker.
As we saw a couple years ago when he taped a promo for the tenth anniversary of Smackdown, the Rock can still cut a promo like no other, and would add a lot to WrestleMania just by doing mic work in between matches. What’s more, he’d probably be up for nailing some annoying heel with the Rock Bottom sometime during the night. Can you imagine the pop in the Georgia Dome if he hit, say Dolph Ziggler, with the People’s Elbow?
What’s more, such an arrangement might be more appealing than usual for the Rock, whose last few movies have bombed at the box office. With his next big flick, Fast Five, opening less than a month after WrestleMania, this might be the ideal setting for rock to hype his film while also making a meaningful return to WWE that wouldn’t require him to actually wrestle.
The Rock has talked extensively recently about negotiating with WWE for a return that wouldn’t involve him competing in a match. He mentioned potentially hosting a special “Rock Raw,” but this would make infinitely more sense and be a better use of the Rock, especially if his return was a “one night only” deal.
Although I think The Rock fits the bill perfectly, I’ll come short of predicting he’ll be announced as the WrestleMania guest host next week. A couple things are working against that. For one, McMahon’s words suggested the host was someone who has never had any involvement in WWE (that would disqualify a lot of the other leading candidates, as well.) Also, I’d find it unlikely that The Rock would show up on Raw next week (although it is in California, just 30 miles from Hollywood.) It may be more likely that The Rock would make an appearance “via satellite” on the Titan Tron.
Whatever the case, with The Rock being such a perfect fit for this role, I almost think anyone else would be a letdown—particularly some flavor of the month celebrity. The Rock would not only create mainstream interest, but he would also bring back a lot of WWE fans from a decade ago who long ago stopped watching.
Perhaps more than any other, The Rock is the one person who could make a real difference in WrestleMania’s buy rate. And if WWE didn’t have him in mind for this role, maybe they should now.