A major criticism making the rounds by the meta-fans revolves around Rock’s cardio during matches. He appears winded fairly early in matches, and it doesn’t exactly inspire some in the audience to see such a gassed superstar. Admittedly, he isn't able to move like he used to, since he is older and is heavier than what he once was. However, I feel like the "cardio criticism" discounts the storytelling involved in the match. From an in-ring psychology perspective, it makes a lot of sense for the smaller guy (like Punk) to wear down the larger guy with holds/submissions. Rock outweighs Punk by about 50 pounds or so, and it makes way more sense to use his technical mastery to keep the big guy grounded, work the Rock’s core (elbows to the kidneys and abdomen to neutralize the Rock’s power), and keep the larger opponent out of rhythm with kicks and knees. After taking this kind of punishment, shouldn’t the Rock be slower? If that is the case, why are criticizing him so much for something that makes total sense?
In addition, some of us have criticized him for taking the spotlight and not putting people over. After all, The Rock did vanquish the evil villain at the Royal Rumble and end one of the greatest championship reigns in company history. On closer inspection, however, the Rock has been putting CM Punk over in multiple ways. For example, on the Jan. 7th edition of RAW, Rock praised Punk’s creativity:
“You have one of the most innovative and creative minds the WWE has ever seen.”
A few minutes later in the same episode, the Rock stated:
“Don’t you think for one solitary second that The Rock doesn’t know how bad you are, how dangerous you are, how tough you are. The Rock knows that…the last time we were in the middle of this ring you hit the Rock with a GTS, and you knocked him out cold, cold as a block of ice…”
Frankly, these are startling comments for a face to bestow an evildoer. So, in one promo, the Rock told the world Punk has of the most creative minds in WWE history, is talented/tough, and has an outstanding, brutal finisher. Seems a lot different than what Rock said to Cena last year, huh?
Punk has completely controlled the pace of matches, and one could see Punk whispering instructions to Rock on multiple occasions (especially during the Royal Rumble main event). Rock has also sold well during matches. All of these examples seem to counter the claim that Rock is only out for Numero Uno.
Shouldn’t we wait until after Wrestlemania ends before we can fully analyze his latest run and its impact on the WWE? I feel like we have been losing sight of the forest for the trees. Thoughts, Cagesiders?