Twice In A Lifetime: John Cena vs The Rock To Main Event Wrestlemania 29

wm29In 45 nights at the Met Life Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the newly crowned WWE champion Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will square off against John Cena in the main event of Wrestlemania 29.

Don’t worry, you’re not having a bout of deja-vu, you’re not experiencing a glitch in the matrix, you are  in fact about to see the exact same ‘Mania main event as last year.

WWE touted the main event of Wrestlemania 28 as the “Once in a Lifetime” match up of John Cena and The Rock. But now we have to see it again. For ‘Mania 29 we had a series of cringe-inducing, out-dated promo battles between Cena and the Rock, we also had a series of smaller match ups and encounters, each one building tension for the match and making the average fan question who would win, and more importantly, who they wanted to win. But this year, one in which will forever be remembered as the year CM Punk broke every title record from recent history, we have at most 7 weeks to build up  the main event at Wrestlemania. A mere 7 weeks to set up an angle/story that will be eye-catching to the casual/non casual fan and of sufficient interest to the dedicated fan as to make sense. I would argue that 7 weeks is not long enough. Particularly when there is no tweak, no spin, on the match from last year. To my mind this is not just sloppy booking, it’s potentially hazardous to Wrestlemania’s position as the high point of the wrestling year.

Now there are some of you reading this who will argue that this match is the second part of a trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back, or The Temple of Doom and that it should be viewed as a part of a whole and not on its own terms. Truth be told, I agree with you. I have a terrible feeling that the main event of Wrestlemania 30 will be John Cena v. The Rock III. But where Star Wars and Indiana Jones succeeded I see Cena vs. The Rock failing. Those films gave us a darker glimpse of our heroes. We saw them in a new light that made us question what we knew about them. With this angle we see nothing of the sort. Cena is still the same character, with the same move set, and the same attitude that he has had for the last ten years. Rocky is still trapped in limbo between Hollywood icon and Attitude Era Sports Entertainer, he doesn’t know whether to play to the crowd like the babiest of baby faces or bully wrestling icons with childish songs and put-downs.

What irks me all the more is that WWE have already proven that they are better than this. Think back to Wrestlemania 25, Shawn Michaels faced the Undertaker and tried to end the latter’s undefeated-at-Wrestlemania streak. At ‘Mania 26 there was a rematch, but rather than repeat the match, the booking team amped up the tension. They built a “streak versus career” stipulation into the match meaning that if the heartbreak kid lost, he would have to quit wrestling. We are all aware of the outcome of these matches and of how the torch was passed to Triple H, but even the quickest glance at the Undertaker’s last four ‘Mania matches will reveal a smart and successful manner for building a storyline that arcs across years of wrestling. Fans of The Rock, and the few remaining fans of Cena, have been denied the pleasure of such story-telling. Instead we are getting a hot shot match out of nowhere that is designed to speak more to people who don’t care about wrestling than those that do.

The reason I find this all so troubling is simple. Vince McMahon’s initial idea for Wrestlemania was a combination of big name stars from the world of entertainment (Cyndi Lauper, Mr. T etc.) with the top wrestlers in America (Hogan, Andre The Giant etc). This mix would draw in new fans and offer regular fans something bigger than the average wrestling show. What worries me is that Vince has returned to that formula. We’ve a Hollywood star facing off against one of the companies top performers. The reason this worries me is that it fails to take into account what has happened in the intervening 28 years.

In 2011 and 2012 the long suffering wrestling fan was finally given hope that brains might win out over brawn and that body’s weren’t as important as brilliance. Fans like myself basked in the glory of Punk’s reign, ate up the rise of Ziggler, Rhodes, Sandow, Bryan, Cesaro and The Shield. We were amazed by the return to form from Henry, Show and Kane. NXT has shown us that if any member of the main roster falls ill, there are at least 3 talented workers ready to fill their gap.

The WWE roster is stacked with talent. Talent who have slaved week in and week out giving their blood sweat and tears to the wrestling fans. They deserve their “Mania Moment”. We deserve compelling stories. Cena has had his time, and God knows The Rock has had his. Wrestling has changed since Wrestlemania first exploded into the world. The fans know this.

Maybe the problem is that Vince still doesn’t…

Our Wrestlemania coverage is brought to you in association with our friends at WWE Parties Ireland. Stay tuned to our Twitter page to be in with a chance of winning tickets to their Wrestlemania party. 

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