Finally…The Rock…has come back…to the WWE. Or rather, he will in the near future.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson announced on Monday that he will appear at WrestleMania 32 in Dallas, Texas, which leads to speculation of what his role will be.
Johnson appeared at each of the last five WrestleManias, which included two matches against John Cena at Wrestlemania 28 and 29 respectively. His role at this year’s event isn’t confirmed, but for the sake of speculation, here are several potential opponents for The Great One should he compete at the “Show of Shows.”
Triple H is the most obvious candidate to face The Rock at WrestleMania. Their history dates back to the mid-90s when they each played vital roles in the success of the Attitude Era.
WWE teased a potential match between the two legends on several occasions including the video shown below and The Rock’s appearance alongside Ronda Rousey, which interrupted Triple H and wife Stephanie McMahon’s gloating promo, at WrestleMania 31.
The scenario is also likely due to Triple H’s current angle against The Rock’s cousin and current WWE Champion Roman Reigns. It doesn’t seem like a Triple H-Reigns matchup will be dragged out to WrestleMania, instead taking place at the Royal Rumble. The Rock could do a run-in to help Reigns against an attack by The Authority and build an angle against his formal rival.
Since The Rock and Triple H haven’t faced one another in more a decade, the matchup would have more intrigue. It would also provide The Rock with an opponent who is also known well enough to build as much hype as possible.
Lesnar presents a similar case to Triple H. He’s the most recognizable superstar on WWE’s active roster — yes, even more so than John Cena — and has a history with The Rock.
Lesnar won his first WWE Championship at SummerSlam against “The People’s Champ” in 2003. His clean win against the future WWE Hall of Famer validated his claim as the “Next Big Thing” and shot Lesnar to the top of WWE’s roster.
In 2016, a Rock-Lesnar matchup would be even bigger than it was almost 13 years prior given Rock’s A-list Hollywood status and Lesnar’s UFC Championship past. This would be the best scenario to attract non-wrestling fans, especially those who stopped watching several years ago.
Also the back-and-forth promos between The Rock and Paul Heyman leading up to the match would be outstanding.
Kevin Owens isn’t the most likely scenario but he is the most intriguing. Owens is one of three current superstars who can keep up with The Rock on the microphone — including Dean Ambrose and John Cena, who are both babyfaces — and has a proven track record of putting on excellent matches.
The Rock has also been a huge advocate for Owens since his days on the independent scene.
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) March 7, 2012
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) July 11, 2012
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) August 12, 2014
Owens has also shared his admiration for The Rock including the comical spot shown below during a PWG match that took place after their first Twitter interaction in 2012.
Though an Owens-Rock matchup is less likely than using a veteran or part-time superstar, it would be the most entertaining and a great way to build Owens as the company’s top heel.
THRICE IN A LIFETIME!! The Rock faced Cena at WrestleMania 28 in what was supposed to be a one time only product of fantasy booking. The match was great but wasn’t worth seeing again the following year.
Still, Cena is the biggest star in WWE and has gained even more popularity outside the wrestling realm with cameos in movies such as Trainwreck, Sisters and Daddy’s Home, as well as hosting the Today Show and the upcoming reality series American Grit.
Perhaps there’s no escaping the power of Rock-Cena, but let’s hope there isn’t rubber match in the coming months.
The Rock has appeared at the last two WrestleManias without working a match. Sure his schedule isn’t as demanding as recent years past but that doesn’t mean he needs to wrestle in order to make an impact at WWE’s biggest show.
His announcement alone will improve WrestleMania’s buy rate, which is why it was made in advance rather than being kept a surprise. When he made his first official return, he served as the show’s host and didn’t compete until Survivor Series nine months later.
It would be great to see The Rock in a match but fans shouldn’t get their hopes up.