WWE's love affair with part-timers began when The Rock was named the master of ceremonies for WrestleMania 27 back in February of 2011. The Rock made his triumphant return to the WWE following a seven-year absence in which he was starring in movies such as The Rundown and The Game Plan; among others. It seemed that the WWE had welcomed back the former WWE Champion with open arms.
During the WWE Championship match between John Cena and The Miz, The Rock interfered, resulting in The Miz retaining the WWE Championship. The following night on Monday Night RAW, Cena and The Rock agreed to face each other at WrestleMania 28 the following year in which The Rock defeated Cena. The Rock-Cena match was one of the main reasons why WrestleMania 28 generated 1,217,000 buys; breaking the record previously set by WrestleMania 23 back in 2007.
Alarmed with these astonishing numbers, Vince McMahon realized that part-time talent would result in record TV ratings as well as pay-per-view buys. In addition, McMahon had reportedly been very unhappy about the way young up-and-coming talent had performed in the WWE as of late by not connecting with the WWE Universe and failing to get over.
One of the those part-timers enjoying a renaissance in the last couple of years is Brock Lesnar. Lesnar had the reputation of being one of the top heels in the WWE before he temporary left the company for a career in mixed-martial arts. It was in the Ultimate Fighting Championship that Lesnar developed a huge following before returning to the WWE in April of 2012.
Since then, other notable part-timers such as Triple H (who now mainly works behind the scenes) and The Undertaker (who is semi-retired) have also boosted the WWE recently.
Even though some wrestling fans may complain that part-timers in the WWE demote many notable mid-card talent during crucial storylines heading into WrestleMania and to a lesser extent, SummerSlam, Royal Rumble, and Survivor Series; one thing for certain is not to expect these part-timers going away anytime soon.
The reason is purely simple: they draw; something that guys like Cody Rhodes and Wade Barrett apparently do not.