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post #456 of (permalink) Old 08-25-2012, 03:38 PM
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Re: Official The Rock WWE Championship Discussion

Starbuck is right.

As I said a couple pages back, even if Rock were willing to go all out and return to his asshole Corporate Rock self who's willing to mercilessly bludgeon a guy with a chair for fifteen minutes like 13-1/2 years ago, neither WWE nor he will want him to go there. He's the ultimate special attraction, the ultimate celebrity, quite plainly, who bridges the worlds of pro wrestling and Hollywood. He's as much the personification of the impact on pop culture pro wrestling strongly helped to make as anyone who's ever existed, and now he's the boomerang megastar whose pop culture accolades are being brought back to WWE to cross-pollinate.

He's not going to go heel the way Cena almost undoubtedly one day will. He's not going to be around to make a heel turn work. Furthermore, turning him heel would be a public relations snafu. He's the perfect ambassador to the entertainment world for WWE at this stage. He's too great a legend to be turned, and discounting that point, he's simply not well-suited to some kind of brawl with The Undertaker.

Rock's Rock Bottom or People's Elbow against Undertaker following the last four Wrestlemanias? No. That's just insulting the viewers' intelligence. Even with Cena, it was largely the element of surprise following Cena's act of hubris that was his undoing. It was the perfect booking for that finish because the Rock Bottom would, you would think, be utilized to knock someone's wind out of them as much as anything else. As such, it was the perfect finisher to catch the self-distracted Cena off guard and with which to get the one, two, three pin.

A Streak match with Undertaker will be entirely different. It's obvious, based on where they have gone with him recently, that Lesnar is the ideal opponent. In short, WWE needs someone in there who will be a threat to Undertaker. For a combination of factors, Rock isn't that guy. He can cut all the promos he wants to about ripping out guys' throats. Lesnar acts like he would have no remorse about doing just that when he's in the middle of a fight.

And let's also be perfectly frank about Rock/Cena as a match. It was good. But it was also a spectacle match, not a match that was intended to blow you away with verisimilitude. When Rock locked in the Sharpshooter and Cena locked in the STF, no one seriously believed anyone was going to tap out. It wasn't like Undertaker snatching Triple H into Hell's Gate at Wrestlemania XXVII or Wrestlemania XXVIII. The Sharpshooter and STF spots were intended to depict the Greek gods' respective strength and endurance. It was meta, as meta and as symbolic as Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan pushing each other down to the mat out of a couple of lock-ups. Which Rock/Cena even emulated at its beginning. That was the kind of match it was. And that is what Rock will, in his present constitution, be best at delivering. I'm sure there will be a spot in any Rock/Punk match in which Punk narrowly survives the Sharpshooter and Rock just barely holds on against the Anaconda Vice.

When Taker latched onto Triple H at Wrestlemanias XXVII and XXVIII, it wasn't atmospheric, and it certainly wasn't done so that both men would look great. It was done with ferocity, to create a genuine sense that one man was on the verge of going unconscious from the pain and pressure applied by a man who was simultaneously wearing himself out, finishing off whatever strength he still possessed, in endeavoring to vanquish his opponent.

WWE has the perfect man to bring that sense of gritty realism to the Streak right now in Brock Lesnar. It's a no-brainer, and everything they've done with making it evident that Lesnar > Triple H, Lesnar's interactions with Triple H and Shawn Michaels, signposts that Lesnar/Undertaker is on deck.

As for Cena, he's 35 years old and is still the standard-bearer of the product, whatever our feelings for him. You have to look at these men at where they are in life, where they are in their careers. Rock a dozen, even six or seven years ago might have easily been capable of delivering the kind of match against Undertaker at Wrestlemania that would conceivably fit alongside the running episodic narrative WWE's delivered on with the Streak these past 3-1/2 years, but he's no longer fit for that role. There's many things you can do with him but building him up as a sadistic monster or realistic fighter (again, Michaels wrestled Undertaker but that was then--the Streak narrative has pushed forward quite dramatically since) against The Undertaker for the Streak is not one of them.

Then there's the point I first brought up which is that, a few hilarious promos from Rock aside, these two guys never really did have much in the way of chemistry in or out of the ring. You can say that Lesnar/Undertaker inside the Hell in a Cell ten years ago wasn't exactly some kind of fabulous wrestling match, but that sense of dread and almost downright horror it engendered is almost perfectly ideal for the Streak at this point.

Cena can either turn heel before facing Undertaker or slowly find himself turning in the match itself or a dozen different variations of the storyline. Many fans of this era have seen Cena fight through the Elimination Chamber, they've seen him battle the monsters like Umaga, they've seen him tortured by a psychopathic Randy Orton and still survive without quitting. Cena is still a reasonably pliable entity. He can wrestle the spectacle match with The Rock or you can send him into the lion's den against Brock Lesnar and watch as his head is caved in like a watermelon.

Cena can choke a man out with a ring rope, and even in the post-PG time period he's been allowed to knock a man in the head with a chain to turn the tables. As silly as it sort of was, he was permitted to wrap duct tape around Batista's ankles to win a Last Man Standing match. I can't see Rock being given the kind of latitude Cena is permitted, because, for one thing, Rock is the special attraction. As little character development as Cena's had since Extreme Rules, it was the character development he had at his back that drove him to use the chain against Lesnar. The audience is conditioned to seeing Cena placed in dramatic situations in a continuous manner. Thus his defeating The Big Show with a bunch of friendly babyfaces at No Way Out is okayed. Rock doesn't have that luxury. He doesn't work B pay-per-views or have filler feuds. It's just two entirely different cases.

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