The Rock is a double-edged sword for WWE

The Rock makes a return and fans watch, but his impact and potential Mania-stealing moment will send shockwaves down the roster.
Sep 8, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; American actor Dwayne Johnson attends the game between the
Sep 8, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; American actor Dwayne Johnson attends the game between the / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There’s starpower in professional wrestling, and then there’s The Rock Dwayne Johnson. Few people have the cache of this man, and he’s widely recognized as one of the most famous men in the world. But, within professional wrestling and WWE specifically, he’s become a double-edged sword that has benefits and detractions to everyone around him. 

In the span of a few months The Rock has returned to WWE twice. Both times he did the same gimmick. Spout out a few lines, get the crowd to chant, then beat up a lower mid-card performer. His returns are meant to draw numbers, and draw numbers they do. Both of those moments have generated millions of views. His return to WWE Raw Day 1 and on SmackDown in 2023 have combined for more than 10 million views on YouTube. Nearly a decade since his last match at WrestleMania 32 and the people will still tune in to see him do nearly anything. 

And that is where the problem lies. The Rock returned and hinted at a match with Roman Reigns. The same match that he’s continued to hint at for years. The same match that hasn’t happened for years. Yet, WrestleMania 40 looks like the most promising time for that match to happen. But if it did, what would be the cost to others on the roster? 

Yes, it’s the biggest match that WWE can put on right now. The Rock is the biggest name in sports entertainment and Reigns is on the cusp of joining his cousin close to that level. WWE has to take the steps to put him in that position to benefit business. Even if that undercuts the “story” the company is telling with Cody Rhodes

The Rock’s return would not only take a WrestleMania moment away from Rhodes, but it would also take away a resource that cannot be replaced, time. All the time that WWE has invested in Rhodes these last few years would be thrown away - at least in the eyes of fans. The company has done a great job keeping him hot since WrestleMania 38, but delaying the big championship win again could harm what’s left of that momentum. It’s a calculated risk and one WWE leadership will take if The Rock versus Roman Reigns really is on the table. 

No one knows how the next few months in WWE storytelling will play out. The company is barrelling down the path to WrestleMania and the main event scene is stacked. The Rock walked through the curtain and has understandably thrown things into a potential wrench. One that will have short term gain for potentially long term damage if it is not handled the right way. LIke a novice swinging a sharp sword for the first time.