There’s been a lot of talk this week about the possibility of Roman Reigns facing Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson at WrestleMania 35. I originally discounted it due to the source (sorry, barnburner.ca, but after the “AJ Lee return imminent” report, I wrote you off), but it’s persisted.
In a roundabout way, the rumor even reached The Wrestling Observer Newsletter, which doesn’t have a perfect track record in reporting on WWE’s future plans, but is one of the more reputable sources we have for behind-the-scenes info.
Reigns recently told the author of the new book Creating the Mania, Jon Robinson, he thinks his cousin would “be down with” a match between them. The Observer notes the quote is interesting because Vince McMahon hates it when Superstars hype matches that aren’t going to happen, citing an example of the Chairman being furious with Stone Cold Steve Austin for cutting a promo on Brock Lesnar during his live podcast special with Paul Heyman in the early days of WWE Network. Which still doesn’t mean Rock/Reigns is happening, but seems to indicate it wasn’t just totally made up nonsense, either.
But how does a Roman vs. The Rock match make any kind of sense?
Sure, a match between Johnson and the current Universal Champ would be great box office. But so would a bout between Rocky and any main event Superstar on the roster. And having the Great One face off with Triple H, Brock Lesnar or even thrice in a lifetime with John Cena would avoid the potential pitfalls a battle with the Big Dog presents.
If we accept that one of McMahon’s goals is to get most of the audience cheering Reigns - and the recent move toward making Braun Strowman a traditional heel for Hell in a Cell is the latest evidence that’s not just a conspiracy theory peddled by Roman’s haters - how would facing off against an industry legend-turned-Hollywood headliner help? Sure, Rock is really good at playing a wrestling bad guy, and would probably be willing to try it again for the right story and dollar amount. But it would be an uphill battle in an era where even cheap heat city-shaming doesn’t guarantee boos for cool heels. There has to be an easier way to build a hateable foe for Reigns to topple in New Jersey next spring.
Then there’s the issue of Johnson’s schedule, and whether his movie and TV partners will sign off on him doing much in a ring. The Brahma Bull sounded enthusiastic enough when asked about wrestling again a couple months ago, but also didn’t provide anything approaching a detail on how/when/why/if it could happen. He’s got movie projects lined up well into the 2020s, and whichever ones are set to film next year could be in jeopardy of missing their targets if he gets injured in the squared circle.
Reigns vs. Rock doesn’t seem plausible, or a good way for Vince to book his territory. But I’m just a fan on the internet and not the most successful promoter in the history of the business. And better connected writers than I aren’t ruling it out completely.
Here’s to the next several months of arguing about it!