HomeTVBoss Fight: The Rock Came to Win at WrestleMania 40

Boss Fight: The Rock Came to Win at WrestleMania 40


Like many fans, I was worried when The Rock made his recent return to WWE. I loved him in the company years ago and would say I’m usually pleased to see The People’s Champ, but when he dropped the hint that he was eyeing that spot at the head of the table, there was some concern. Dwayne Johnson has spent many years away, starring in movies, making deals, and building his empire, but he still had enough clout in the company to saunter in and challenge for the greatest prize, especially now that he was sitting on the board of directors for the newly formed TKO Group, the combined business that oversees the UFC and WWE. I saw a potential future where everything fell apart: Seth Rollins’ involvement, Cody Rhode’s story, and Roman Reigns’ reign, but those fears weren’t warranted.

The first sign that I could sit back and let the man work was when he went super heel. I couldn’t smell what he was cooking up just yet, but it wasn’t long before we saw that Rock wasn’t just back in one of the previous versions of his villainous persona, but a seasoned and more venomous force that was there to play a role in ending Cody’s story and further: The Final Boss. My doubts had already begun to slip away, but then came the slappings, the verbal face-offs with Seth and Cody, and finally that increased lethality. This was gang warfare and examples needed to be made, something Rock was good at. That moment out in the rain where he made Cody bleed and evoked his mother, it felt good. We had a reason to dislike him again (Die Rocky Die) and understood the stakes better leading up to the grandest stage of them all.

The tag team match seemed perfect, even if it meant three of the four men involved would need to pull double duty – this was their time to shine. Seth “Freakin” Rollins and Cody Rhodes versus Roman Reigns and The Rock is a main event anywhere, but could all of the participants deliver? It made sense that fans didn’t see a tune-up match for the Attitude Era star, he’d need to be saved for the biggest show of the year, but that did put forth a question: can he still go? His last full match with the company was eleven years ago, one which he was injured during, so it seemed valid to wonder if the 51-year-old former champion would be able to perform.

It’s hard to imagine anyone doubted that Johnson couldn’t look the part, as the man always seems in peak physical condition, but wrestling requires a different type of training, endurance, timing, and cardio. WWE provided the star with two rings, a trio of training partners (Gallus), and producers to oversee these sessions, so Rocky was certainly well taken care of. He didn’t approach this comeback lightly and dedicated himself to training for it, with returning to the ropes seemingly “like riding a bike” for The Great One.

Firstly, that entrance, building up with the loading bar, increasing the anticipation, the electricity, and extra colors in the lines, culminating with the Brahma bull-shaped fire as his music hits. The Crow and Punisher films would have been proud of that one. His revamped entrance with the lightning strike already looked fantastic, but the slow walk out of the flames into the mass of augmented reality graphics worked for that big show feel. He carried the belt over his shoulder, The People’s Championship, which had been given to him the night before, because even if he isn’t a current titleholder, Rock just looks right draped in gold, with a symbol of his status. It’s not ego, that’s just how he goes (okay, maybe it’s also ego).

In the match proper we saw him go the limit, over 40 minutes. Rock wasn’t just warming the ropes, he was on the mat handing out punishment and taking moves, including a spear from his own partner. He looked good doing it also, Johnson has always felt like a master of the ring, with his moves, expressions, and storytelling. It’s hard to say that Rock has missed a beat, especially for someone coming back after a decade essentially (I’m not counting that six-second match against Rowan). He didn’t come away completely unscathed, however, receiving a small injury to his elbow and narrowly avoiding a more serious injury it seems, but he persisted.

The part I enjoyed the most was how Rock used all his tools. Sure, he broke out the nostalgic finishers and scored his team the victory, but I mean he was a classic heel and used his influence as the boss as well. Not only was he cursing up a storm where seemingly not everyone is allowed to (even if that’s part of the gimmick), but people in charge can get away with that. He even delivered a low blow to Seth, in what was supposed to be a normal tag match, but I absolutely loved him threatening the referee, “You count, you’re fired,” and pulling him out of the ring mid-count later. Actions like these help increase his heel heat, and make Rock feel more like a dick. We’ve said it for decades in wrestling, it’s easy to hate your oppressive boss, especially in a work environment where you might get to put him through a table later. More importantly, Rocky cheating like this and winning even though he did these bad things so blatantly, made Cody’s triumph on night two feel even more impressive (I guess we should thank Undertaker). The Rock using these types of underhanded tricks made it feel like the last hurdle for Cody was even tougher, and the victory was almost sweeter for it.

Rock says he isn’t done. There are no plans to simply ride off into the sunset and avoid the company for another decade. He’s involved now, and it doesn’t sound like that’s just with the board of directors. The Final Boss may not be finished as a character. There is, of course, the suspected feud with Roman Reigns, who he was ready to face until Cody reinserted himself, but what else could be in store inside and (more likely) outside of the ring as a dominant authority figure? I didn’t think I’d be looking forward to finding out, but Rocky did it.

The Final Boss didn’t just show up, he enriched the situation and still managed to help put Cody, the company, and others over while remaining dominant and skirting the line of becoming the sole focus. People were really worried he’d steal that spotlight. It’s tough to do without going too far, especially for someone with Dwayne’s star power. He was very involved in other places though, appearing on plenty of shows leading up to Wrestlemania, cutting promos on social media, doing interviews, inducting his Grandmother into the Hall of Fame, winning a Slammy for Trash Talker of the Year, and giving fans this superb video game mock-up for The Final Boss done in the Streets of Rage style. I watched this so many times, the musical shift of the midi tunes is incredible. “Don’t f— with The Final Boss” is right. I’m digressing hard, but the point is that it didn’t feel like Rock treated this as another appearance or a small job, he committed.

This man earned the right to call himself The Final Boss a while back, I had just forgotten that. I get why people like me were concerned, but legitimately think The Rock still has a place in wrestling. Seth said it was their time, people like him and Cody, which is right, but that doesn’t mean old threats can’t return. The Tribal Chief may have fallen for now, but The Final Boss is likely to still have a few cards he can play, and I’m here for it.

Content Source: www.comingsoon.net


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