When The Rock came back to headline WrestleMania 28 last year against John Cena, it was billed as a "Once in a Lifetime" match. Sure, full time stars on the WWE roster would be taking a backseat to a returning legend working a part-time schedule but at least it was only a one time deal.
Fast forward a year and four of the top six headlining stars at WrestleMania 29, scheduled for Sun., April 7, 2013, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, are part-timers. The Rock is back to headline against Cena in a rematch made to capitalize on the wild success of the first match -- marketing slogan be damned -- while Triple H is taking on Brock Lesnar and Undertaker is battling CM Punk.
Only Cena and Punk have worked full schedules for the company throughout the past year.
Naturally, this has led to resentment and frustration among the locker room and some of the wrestlers have spoken out about as much.
First, Punk said the following to Mark Madden in a recent radio interview:
"I'm the only guy who says this - ya know, Miz will go out there and be like, 'It's great having these guys back!' and blah blah blah because I truly believe he thinks he has to say that. The honest reality of it is you bust your ass for 365 days a year and there's other people who come in and they don't work as hard, but maybe get paid the same amount of money. So, me as a businessman, it just makes me look at it and go, 'Okay, that's the deal I need to get. I need to get the deal where I work 15 dates a year.' You know what I mean? It makes me work harder, but, damn it, it's going to burn me out."
"It really pisses me off. But, it also is good business. Every year a part timer comes back, but there's a reason that they're back. Whether it's the fans want to see them, if they're a draw, if they're a movie star, there's a reason that they're back. They're not back just to do it. There's business to be had. And it pisses me off and it motivates me a hundred percent. It makes me want to be that guy that they're begging to come back. I appreciate it, it's just good business. When people come to Wrestlemania to see the Rock and the Undertaker and they leave that Wrestlemania thinking, 'Wow, that Dolph Ziggler stole the show. I can't wait to tune in to ‘Raw' to see what he does next.' That's how I've lived my entire career."
Both understand why things are the way they are. Both Rock and Lesnar have moved the needle significantly in pay-per-view (PPV) shows they have wrestled on, Rock at WrestleMania and Lesnar at Extreme Rules and SummerSlam. When business is good for WWE, it means business is good for Punk and Ziggler, even if it bruises their egos to have to take a back seat to bigger names who don't have to work as hard or as often.
And hey, if it leads to Punk and Ziggler working harder to give great matches to show up the part-timers, I think that makes fans the real winners here, no?