You can't get more old school than what the WWE has set out to do as of this past Monday Night. With the fallout of WrestleMania XXVII fresh on our minds, we were treated to hype all night that before the end of the broadcast, John Cena would confront the Rock based on Rock costing him the WWE Championship against the Miz the previous night.
I mean, what could they say? What else was left to do? Both men had gotten physical with each other, both men had gone beyond the call of duty to verbally assault each other in and out of the ring and the mainstream media attention was of the likes that WWE hadn't seen in years.
Finally, the time had come. All the matches and other fallout from the previous night's extravaganza had come and gone, and with the sounds of a few familiar beats, John Cena made his way out to the ring.
After a typical Cena promo, smiles and cheap pops everywhere, Cena proceeded to say he wasn't even mad at this point (which I think is an awful decision on what to say, but more on that at a different time), but he just wanted to call the Rock out and find out the same thing all the fans wanted to know: What's next?
Sure enough, the Rock came out. It was tense as tense could be. The Rock laid it out there, he respected John Cena. He respected his in-ring skills, the way he handles himself in and out of the ring, his relationship with the fans and the media and his overall demeanor as the flag bearer of the WWE in the current generation.
But just because he respected him didn't mean he had to like him.
So that's where they were at. John Cena, finally having heard enough, cut him off at the knees and let him know that it's time to put up or shut-up. If he says he's back, then he's back. If he says he'll never leave, he can't leave. And if he wants to give the people what they want, then listen to the people. And with that, John Cena did what we all knew was coming, but still never thought would happen.
He challenged the Rock to a one-on-one match!
This was huge, no doubt. But laying down the punk card for one of the best entertainers in wrestling history? The Rock, not to be outdone, not only AGREED to the challenge, but he one-upped Cena by saying that a dream match like that doesn't deserve b-level treatment, it can only happen at one place and one place alone: WRESTLEMANIA.
BUT WRESTLEMANIA HAD JUST PASSED?! DOES HE MEAN?!
THE ROCK CHALLENGED JOHN CENA TO A MATCH AT WRESTLEMANIA XXVIII, APRIL 1st, 2012, IN MIAMI, FLORIDA!
Announcing a match months ahead and building towards it, even just giving the fans a good idea of where you're going, is a trick that professional wrestling has been using for years. But announcing the MAIN EVENT of your BIGGEST PAY-PER-VIEW exactly ONE YEAR IN ADVANCE?! It has NEVER been done. Not only this is old school, it's unique!
What can happen in a year? Does the Rock wrestle a match or two before then? Do we see a begrudging respect grow between the two as we inch closer towards next year's spring classic? With the Rock's filming schedule and Cena being there every week, can they carry this feud out and keep fans interested without falling flat or seeming one sided?
One thing's for sure, in the 6 weeks leading to WrestleMania, the Rock appearing via satillite all but 2 times DID leave a sour taste in a large majority of the audience's mouth. Clearly, the Rock is not at the stage where he can appear every single week on television. But for the next 52 weeks, he can't exactly phone it in from a taped segment at his house either. What kind of medium can the WWE find?
Meanwhile, how do you keep John Cena relevant until then? Sure, he's your company's biggest star, but with the youth movement WWE's had going on for the past year, how can you keep him relevant while pushing the newer, younger guys to the top? While Cena/Rock will undoubtedly sell that Pay-Per-View like hotcakes, you still need a strong undercard, and some other main events as well.
A big question some wrestling pundits were asking themselves Tuesday morning was: Does John Cena win the belt at all going into WrestleMania XXVIII? Do you make the ultimate dream match for this generation for the WWE Championship? Championships used properly help create stars, fuel the fire with feuds and add to matches that are lacking. Nothing in The Rock vs. John Cena needs the WWE Championship. I don't think they'd do something like that, but after 22 years as a wrestling fan, nothing would surprise me at this point.
No other news has broken out at this time about the future of John Cena vs. The Rock at WrestleMania XXVIII, but it's sure set to be an extremely interesting 12 months. If the world were to end in December 2012...as far as the part of my life that consists of professional wrestling? I could die happy.