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15 February, 2011

The Rock Returns

The Rock is back! It's true. Hard to believe, but true.
The man who walked away from the WWE at the height of 
his powers and popularity to go bigger and live out his dreams, 
is back. You know what? I'm pumped. 
The Rocks is not my favorite wrestler of all time, but he's in the top 3.
When he left the WWE, he took me with him. 
To paraphrase Duke to Rocky in Rocky 4, when The Rock died,
a part of me died.
I've probably watched WWE programming a total of two dozen
times in the last 7 years. I am officially interested again. 
The Rock is entertainment. Other than Rick Flair in his prime, 
The Rock was the best on the mic I've ever seen. 
His wrestling was often an afterthought. I was more than happy
just to hear him cut up McMahon or Coach or anyone else who
got in his way. But the wrestling was great too. 
His clashes with Stone Cold were fantastically spine-tingling, 
even for a grown man who knew for many years about the pre-determined outcomes.
As I often say, show me the best athletes in any competition
performing at the highest level and I'll likely be entertained. 
The Rock never failed me. 
He had a presence and a charisma that jumped off the screen and grabbed my attention. 
He had me at "Shut your damn mouth!" 
  When The Rock left, a part of me was glad because I 
thought he was going to be Stallone 2.0. I figured there was
a wide-open action hero genre waiting for someone to come 
along and lay the Rock Bottom on it as most of the 80's icons
were growing old. Vin Diesel fell flat and it was there for the taking.
one of the best fight scenes ever
I didn't see Scorpion King but I thought The Rundown was a good start.
An entertaining flick with lots of Rock one-liners, a good comedic foil, 
lots of action and one of the best fight scenes I've ever seen. 
(the one with the rebels in the jungle)
Then came Walking Tall and Gridiron Gang. OK, not great. 
That was followed by the Disney contract. It's hard to turn down
a $15 million a picture offer, and he didn't. I assume his agents
were telling Rock things like "this will broaden your appeal. 
It'll help make you a household name, blah, blah, blah." 
You could tell by this quote to the Orlando Sentinel back
in '09 when making Witch Mountain that The Rock was buying into The Mouse.

 "It's a cool thing when you can make movies that everyone can go see. I love the partnership I have with Disney. I recognize the power that the brand has, its impact on families all over the world. We had great success with The Game Plan,' and when they came to me with this, I was ready."

 But in the end, the brand that suffered was The Rock. 
He hasn't exactly laid the smacketh down on the box office and 
wrestling had moved on. Let's not forget, when The Rock left the WWE, he LEFT.
I could be wrong but I don't recall him popping up here or there, he was out.
Finally... The Rock has come back!
So he bailed on all the people who helped make 
Dwayne Johnson into The Rock, the fans. And he didn't come back. 
Well now, finally, The Rock has come back and he did it the right way.
Almost the very first thing he did last night was
take off his shades, tell the crowd (as Dwayne Johnson)
how thankful he was to them for their part in 
building his career.
It was a genuine moment. Very smart, Rock. 
On Sunday I was speaking with a friend who was in the WWE for a long time about The Rock. He was expressing concern about how The Rock would be received if he ever came back because of the way he left. 
Rock took care of that last night.
The other REALLY interesting moment came when Rock
promised that he would "never, ever leave you again." 
Whoa. Really? 
Look, this is wrestling so that is open to interpretation but I was 
really surprised by that declaration. 
A quick peak at his IMDB page (
suggests Rock doesn't have a lot on his plate right now, 
so maybe the WWE will be part of his future. 
Then again, he turns 39 in May and wrestling is a tough gig when you're 29. 
So maybe only The Rock knows what he plans to do.
Here is what I know. Wrestlemania 27 is April 3rd and 
for the first time in at least 7 years, I am legitimately excited about it.
I do indeed smell what The Rock is cooking. 

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