McGuire’s Mondays: WWE has a Rock problem, but it’s not what you think it is


By Colin McGuire, Staffer

On the March 1 edition of Smackdown, The Rock and Roman Reigns opened the show with a promo. The segment lasted, by my calculations, about 48 minutes. And this came after the much-ballyhooed social media promo The Rock posted earlier in the day, which when released a second time as a director’s cut, came in at about 26 minutes. That’s roughly 74 minutes of The Rock/Bloodline in one day.

On the March 8 edition of Smackdown, producers of the show switched it up by deciding to put all Rock/Bloodline stuff at the end of the program. The segment noticeably ran out of time, as has been the case when The Rock has been asked to participate in the show-closing spot since his return. It’s a shame because it leaves these segments with him, Roman, Cody, and in the case of Friday, Seth Rollins, with a feeling of incompleteness whenever they are clearly rushed and/or cut for the sake of time and/or the show going off the air.

But here’s the thing: It’s also a shame when the Bloodline saga is given show-opening privileges because … well, god damn, man. Other stories need some love, too.

Herein lies WWE’s Rock problem. We’re less than a month away from WrestleMania and while there’s no denying Rock’s star power and the buzz surrounding the story that’s playing out between him, Reigns, Cody and Rollins, WWE as a whole is a victim of its own success. Because, honestly: Does it even feel like anything else matters as we walk our way towards Philadelphia and the 40th installment of the Showcase Of Immortals?

I know, I know. There are fair arguments to be made. Gunther’s Intercontinental Championship challenger will (at least in theory) be proclaimed mere hours after this publishes, and the options are all fruitful (Chad Gable has a hell of a story to tell while Sami Zayn’s prospects are almost equally intriguing). Rhea Ripley vs. Becky Lynch looks great on paper. Drew McIntyre is offering up the best character work of his career and his match against Rollins (and perhaps a third party?) should be fail-proof.

But, really. This is The Rock’s show and The Rock is making sure everyone knows that. I felt bad on March 1 when we inched closer and closer to hour two of Smackdown and that guy was still out there, lobbing half-forced insults to a crowd that still doesn’t quite know what to do when it sees him. And no, I didn’t feel bad for him; rather, I felt bad for Naomi, who had her entrance cut in the next segment … and then Tiffany Stratton, who just got to the party but had her legs cut out from under her because even though she’s the future, The Rock wanted to go an extra 12 minutes, so her match time suffered for it.

It’s a tricky problem to have, but it’s a problem nonetheless. When The Rock wants to flirt with the pro wrestling business, the pro wrestling business cancels its plans with its long-term partner because of those few great dates that it wants to try and re-create with The Rock any opportunity it gets. But it’s a story as old as time: Eventually, the pro wrestling business will have to return home, sans Rock, and repercussions will be had.

Case in point: Bayley’s WrestleMania story. Here she is, having spent years being the consummate professional, elevating others, getting over as a heel, reinventing herself with low-key peak Chris Jericho skills, and … wait, she’s wrestling at WrestleMania? Against her former stablemate of years, who just turned on her? For the WWE’s Women’s Championship even?! Who knew? Not as many people as you’d think, what with that story sharing television space with The Rock’s looming presence and TV time accommodations each Friday night.

That’s only one example. Seth Rollins should be thanking his lucky stars that he has history with Reigns and Cody because without that, who knows if he’d be inserted into the main event picture. In the meantime, his Actual Championship Match at an Actual WrestleMania feels like an afterthought. LA Knight, who seven seconds ago was the hottest thing in wrestling, is busy smashing televisions. Oh, yeah. And then there’s this guy named Randy Orton. What’s he got? Logan Paul?


More pressing is the reality that there isn’t really a solution to any of this. The Rock is gonna The Rock. And, to a large degree, he’s earned that right. So, it’s hard to try and tie him down when you know he’s back, but not forever, and at a time when, frankly, WWE needs him to be back in this way if only to take the spotlight off all the disgusting Vince McMahon revelations over the past year. Get it while you can get it, I suppose. If he’s helping sell out TV tapings and garnering the company mainstream media attention, it’s hard to turn that down.

On the flip side of that … well, yeah, I don’t blame Naomi for looking salty a couple weeks ago as she stood in the ring waiting for Stratton to step through the ropes. And I wouldn’t blame anyone backstage who feels they aren’t getting TV time, booking love or anything else that’s currently compromised because The Rock Just Can’t Help Himself when it comes to cutting promos these days. If someone feels disrespected, I don’t think it’s unfair that he or she feels that way.

That said, you could even go back to the halcyon days of the overrated Attitude Era, and The Rock didn’t need a total of 74 minutes in one day to get his point across, so indulgence is probably an apt word to use at this point. He could tone things down and be just as effective based solely on the fact that he’s The Rock. It would allow for other stories and wrestlers to breathe as they gear up for what could be the biggest night of their lives. It’d also add some much-needed layers to a card that feels dominated by two matches, despite other title bouts already being officially made for the event.

But this is pro wrestling, remember. It’s every man, woman and child for him or herself. Money does the talking with sheer star power dictates the negotiations. If The Rock truly wants to set WWE up for the future, he’d be a little more gracious with the footprint he leaves on Friday nights. Then again, he is a heel these days. And perhaps the biggest bad guy move he can make is to eat up the weeks of television leading up to the company’s Super Bowl.

Whatever it is, we can smell what he’s cooking. However, this time around, perhaps we’re being just a bit over-served.


Readers Comments (8)

  1. Original Jabroni March 11, 2024 @ 1:24 pm

    The Rock is just too talented, too captivating, too over. That’s really the problem, right? Sammy Zayne looks like a dad who forgot where the gym is and acts like an overly dramatic teenager. He’s not a draw. Rollins is, well, who the hell knows what he is. I’ve asked the internet on multiple platforms to define his character for me and nobody has.
    Neither Uso has anything approaching an interesting personality and never has.
    My point is: of course this is all about The Rock, Roman and Cody… Without Brock, you’ve only got 3 or 4 men and Rhea who bring any eyeballs.

  2. So wait a minute? Are we complaining here that the main event of the biggest show of the year is being treated as The Main Event? Have we forgotten how wrestling cards supposed to work? And yeah, of course Tiffy’s legs were “cut out from under her” when she had to rush her approx. third match on Smackdown. Jeez, I wonder if she’ll ever recover. (Spoiler: she already did, largely because there was nothing to recover from.) Can we please stop overdramatizing real or presumed “personal tragedies” like entrances being cut when the focus is (and imho clearly SHOULD BE) on the main event – you might have heard of it, it’s the thing that sells the PLE. Not to you, Mr. Writer on a Wrestling Website, but to people who don’t get paid to do this, but instead to do other things. Like plumbing. Or construction work. Or literally anything else.

    • I’m with you on this. I like reading about pro wrestling. I’ve taken bumps and trained many years back.

      I am frustrated that I even read this crap these days
      If it’s not pontificating over a rock, it’s another dweeb posing their virtue.

      Everything is already so tribal and stupid.
      Cover the match. I think cable television would be cheaper than listening to pro wrestling experts have a fit. I hope you’re paid well, ya hacks.

  3. Nah,enjoy the ride.

  4. The rock has been 10 out of 10 since he came back. He brings the entire company up a level and literally everyone in the back knows that

  5. I have no idea what any of Seth Rollins’ characters have been. Architect? Burn it down guy?

    This costume parade feels forced, but I appreciate the effort to bring something larger than life to the fans, rather than just another guy in a t-shirt.

    He lacks the innate weirdness or intensity of a Randy Savage or Adrian Street to make it believable, though.

    He’s talented, but I never bought into him as a main eventer. He’s missing a spark for me.

    As for the article, I think the comments are kind of harsh, but to each his own.

    The main point makes sense to me: if everyone in the world is watching your product, it’s a chance to give them a reason to keep tuning in after the Rock is gone.

    Stick to your schedule and showcase people like LA Knight, the Creeds, Gunther, Naomi in meaningful promos and matches.

    Wrestlemania 3 was the biggest event of all time, and nearly every match had heat going into it. It was the perfect card. The characters were defined, the stories were clear, and people were invested.

  6. Good piece, well written, but what the heck is with all the random capital letters? It’s like reading a Ric Flair tweet. I guess you were trying for some added emphasis, but “ The Rock Just Can’t Help Himself”? Why?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.