Friday, April 10, 2009

John Cena vs. The Rock

If you haven't been following the story, John Cena has had some choice words for The Rock over the last few weeks while he's been on his media blitz promoting 12 Rounds. Basically, Cena's complaints boil down to the way Dwayne Johnson has seemingly discarded his wrestling persona for his acting career and while Johnson is often quoted saying how much he "loves" wrestling or "misses" performing in front of a live crowd, he doesn't really show the business much love these days. The Rock may have recently laughed off the criticism, but to be honest, John Cena has a valid point.

The way I see it, The Rock's people probably think he should steer clear of the wrestling business as much as possible so he can legitimize himself as a serious actor, but if that's the case, maybe he shouldn't talk about wrestling at all or how much he misses it. The Rock hasn't made an appearance in an arena during a WWE event in over five years, why not? It's not like he works every day of the year or that WWE isn't within driving distance for him at some point in the year, why not one appearance in these last five years? Sure, he's done some pre-taped vignettes and appeared at last year's Hall of Fame, but he would've been the biggest jerk in history if he didn't show up to induct his father and grandfather into the WWE HoF. Why not an appearance at a live event? Just pop in and say hello once in awhile or even simply sit in the audience with Adam Sandler and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, to show his wrestling fans that he still cares.

The Rock - an intelligent, funny, quick-witted, attractive movie star - is also in a unique position to clear the air about the misconceptions and stigmas that are often attached to professional wrestling and its fans, but he never seems to do that. As a crossover star, he could explain to mainstream audiences that we shouldn't view wrestling as some "fake sport," but rather just another form of what he does on the big screen. He could assure those audiences that not all wrestling fans are slack-jawed hillbillies who turn off the TV after watching their wrasslin' and then go beat their wives with a steel chair. He could be a shining example of the fact that not all wrestlers end up dead in a hotel room at the age of 40 or that the entire business isn't just like what was seen in The Wrestler, but instead, he distances himself.

It's not that I fault The Rock for choosing the career path that he has, I think it's awesome that he managed to transition into mainstream entertainment and make wildly successful movies, but I feel like in some ways, he's abandoned the people who made him famous in the first place. Not to take anything away from his incredible talents, but without wrestling, would he be who he is today? He created his persona in a wrestling ring, he honed his acting skills in a wrestling ring, he earned the love and respect of millions (and millions) of fans in a wrestling ring, long before he ever stepped foot on a Hollywood set. The Rock had every right to leave the business for a far more rewarding career, but he didn't have to lock the door behind him.

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