Analyzing a main event for the ages
WrestleMania showdown between The Rock and John Cena has all the makings of a classic
TOMMY DREAMER - For SLAM! Wrestling
The Super Bowl of wrestling is just two weeks away.
On April 1, WrestleMania 28 will be held in Miami in front of a sold-out crowd. As a young Dreamer, I was at the inaugural WrestleMania and I have attended many since. This WrestleMania, in particular, really has a big-game feel to it. Some ’Manias have fallen short of the hype, but then again, haven’t some Super Bowls as well?
This year, WrestleMania features three marquee matches, and all have very unpredictable outcomes. CM Punk will defend his WWE Championship against Winnipeg native Chris Jericho, which could be the wrestling match of the night.
Triple H tries to end the undefeated streak of The Undertaker, who is 19-0 at WrestleManias, inside a steel fortress known as Hell in a Cell, with the Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels as the special referee.
Undertaker ended Michaels’ career at WrestleMania a couple of years back and Michaels is also Triple H’s best friend and former tag-team partner in D-Generation X. And if you ain’t down with that, I’ve got two words for ya ... keep reading (ha ha, little wrestling humour there).
Finally, the most talked-about match in all of sports entertainment features John Cena taking on The Rock. There have been some heavily debated and hyped WrestleMania main events before, but this one might take the cake.
I get asked even by non-wrestling fans who I think will win this match. Indeed, on the strength of this match, this year’s WrestleMania has captured the world’s attention. There hasn’t been a more talked-about WrestleMania among the insiders (wrestlers, Internet reporters or die-hard fans) that I can remember. Several ’Mania main events have lived up to the hype and nobody could guess the winners, including Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant, Hogan vs. Randy (Macho Man) Savage, Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior, Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Lawrence Taylor, Bret (Hitman) Hart vs. Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Michaels, Austin vs. The Rock (which headlined two WrestleManias) and Michaels vs. The Undertaker.
This year’s main event has fans in a frenzy and this insider is going to break it down (please do a DX crotch chop and if you don’t know what that means, I’ve got two words for ya — keep reading).
I am going to use my many years of experience and personal insight to break down what could be the greatest WrestleMania of them all. I honestly haven’t heard this much excitement since Team Jacob vs. Team Edward fans of the Twilight saga went at it. So let the tale of the tape begin:
n John Cena, age 34, six-foot-one, 251 pounds.
n The Rock, age 39, six-foot-five, 260 pounds.
Experience: I give it to The Rock. He was born into the wrestling business and is a third-generation superstar. His grandfather is WWE Hall of Famer High Chief Peter Maivia and his father WWE Hall of Famer Rocky Johnson. So, at a very early age, The Little Rock was around the business, soaking it all in. After writing that, I think I would like to see WrestleMania 29’s main event feature third-generation wrestler Randy Orton, whose grandfather Cowboy Bob Orton Sr. and WWE Hall of Famer Bob Orton Jr., take on The Rock. It would be an interesting matchup to say the least, but I digress. I apologize for booking next year’s WrestleMania. What can I say? It’s a force of habit.
Current experience: John Cena gets the edge. John is on the road all the time, wrestling for the WWE. He doesn’t miss many shows, while Rock has had one match in the last seven years. This could be a determining factor.
Physical capabilities: I’m calling a tie here. Both men are freaks in the gym, both men are very strong and I have seen both of them train and neither has an ounce of fat on them. Both men are fast and hard-hitting.
Offence: Another tie. Both men have submission holds — Cena a leg grapevine crossface called a STF, while Rock has a leg grapevine into a manoeuvre called a sharpshooter. As for finishing manoeuvres, Cena’s is the Attitude Adjustment, a move given to him by yours truly, which sees him pick his opponent up on his shoulders and slam their back to the canvas. (I must point out he has had much more success with my finisher than I have ha ha). The Rock’s finisher is the Rock Bottom, in which he picks a man up under his shoulders and slams him to the ground.
Each man also boasts an entertaining move: Cena has the “you can’t see me,” where he waves his own hand in his face, hits the ropes, does a bad dance, wipes his own shoulder and delivers a five-knuckle shuffle to his opponent’s head. The Rock has the People’s Elbow. With his opponent on his back on the canvas, he looks into the crowd, gingerly moves their arm with his foot, removes his elbow pad, throws it into the crowd, runs to the ropes and delivers an elbow drop to his opponent’s chest. Hey, now I know it reads absurd, but when they perform these moves, people jump to their feet every time.
Communication skills: Tie. Both men speak from the heart. Both have passion for what they do and both can dish out the smack talk and improvise when they want. Both men captivate an audience. I fast forward through a lot of wrestling on TV, but when both men talk, I put the remote down and I hang on to their every word.
Catchphrases: Tie. Both men have so many, I couldn’t possibly write them all. Cena’s most popular are “You can’t see me,” and “Rise above hate,” while Rock’s are “If you smell what The Rock is cooking” and “Boots to a—es” (which, unedited, translates to backsides or bottoms).
The key to this analysis is the breakdown of the intangibles. I have travelled with both men, hung out on personal levels with them both and I really like and have so much respect for them both. They have so many similarities, it is uncanny. My personal feeling is that they are so much alike that it is fuelling their motivation to beat one another.
Both men paid their dues in the business, both have lived in their cars and both trained very hard to get breaks into the wrestling immortality. An unknown fact until now: my old Extreme Championship Wrestling boss, Paul Heyman, asked WWE Inc. owner Vince McMahon for The Rock when he was known simply as Rocky Maivia and when ECW and WWE had a working agreement and a talent exchange. Vince said no. Can you imagine if The Rock had ECW street credit to him? He would be even more unstoppable, but that is another story to tell.
Both men worked in smaller promotions to master their craft, both struggled when they first entered the WWE and had gimmicks not suited to being themselves, but once they shed those and found their own identities, both took off. They have both been the flag bearer for WWE, a title that comes with an enormous amount of responsibility.
Cena and Rock are the men who do everything for the company and rarely have any days off, such things as media, marketing, merchandising, PR appearances, charities … you name it and they have done it for WWE.
Quite simply, both men are living legends. They have carried WWE on their backs and both were perfect choices to do so.
Mainstream publicity: I have to give this one to The Rock. He truly is the most electrifying man in sports entertainment. That’s not just a catchphrase. He left WWE because his acting career took off. And who would blame him? John Cena also did movies. I’ve seen them all and I think he is great. If the roles were reversed, I think Cena may have gone on to great success in Hollywood.
The Rock went from action hero to Disney endorser, back to an action hero and he is amazing in every role. I am still waiting on me and The Rock’s new buddy flick to transpire — we would be the new Will Smith and Kevin James combo. I am a dad and my eight-year-old girls both know The Rock from his TV appearances. When I pick them up at school, however, many boys are wearing WWE shirts featuring John Cena. So the age demographic is the same, but not the gender.
The similarities are so close in every category, in fact, that I honestly believe there is some personal, behind-the-scenes animosity that is fueling this match as well. That only makes the match all the more intriguing.
Who will be victorious: So, after my great in-depth analysis, is it Team Cena or Team Rock? I can proudly say the winner is ... the wrestling fans. You will be treated to an amazing show, something you can talk about forever. If you have the chance go to a WrestleMania, there is nothing like it in the world. As I wrote earlier, I went to the first one and I am still a fan and have lasting memories for my lifetime.
Thanks for reading.
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Tommy Dreamer is a legendary and influential pro wrestler and a father and husband who has worked for World Wrestling Entertainment, Extreme Championship Wrestling and Total Nonstop Action. His column appears in the Kingston Whig-Standard and on SLAM! Wrestling. Follow him on Twitter @THETOMMYDREAMER and check out his website at thetommydreamer.com. He can be booked for live appearances through his website.