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The Rock vs. Roman Reigns: The match I’ll watch but don’t want to see

The Rock sent shockwaves through the wrestling world on Friday (Sep. 15), inching us closer to a possible showdown against his cousin, Roman Reigns.

It began with an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show, where the former eight-time WWE Champion confirmed that he had agreed to return to face Reigns at WrestleMania 39. Wanting it to be something bigger and unprecedented, plans for the superfight fell through. However, Rock said he was still open to making it happen at WrestleMania XL next year in Philadelphia.

Later that night, The Great One made a surprise visit to SmackDown, where he took down Austin Theory and electrified the audience as only he could, proving that a match with The Tribal Chief is something fans would kill to see.

Should The Rock and Roman Reigns square off, I will definitely tune in to watch it. I will even pay to see it, which I believe we’ll all have to do. But how can any of us miss it? It’s a spectacle between a current legend in Reigns and a face that could be on the Mount Rushmore of wrestling in Rock, who also happens to be the world’s most famous movie star.

This is what WrestleMania is all about.

But if plans fall through again and it doesn’t happen, that’s okay, too, because I really don’t want to see it, starting with the fact that I have a terrible case of Rock fatigue.

For almost 20 years, The Rock has been everywhere: movies, TV, social media, and print. When he’s not onscreen flexing on Vin Diesel, he’s all over the internet making charitable donations and reminding everyone how really, really muscular he is by sharing photos and videos of his workouts, as if his extra large frame crammed into a size shmedium shirt doesn’t make that obvious.

Oh, and I almost forgot his incessantly shameless plugs for his tequila brand every chance he gets (sorry, no free ads here, Rock). It’s so bad that he makes listening to AEW President Tony Khan talk about the numbers from All In bearable.

And then there’s the match itself.

I have zero faith in the bout being any good. Not counting his eight-second squash of Erick Rowan at WrestleMania 32, The Rock hasn’t had a serious physical performance since 2013. And he didn’t look all that great, as he suffered several tears in his abdomen during his battle with John Cena, which slowed their meeting to a crawl.

Rock was 41 then. He’s ten years older and at least 20 pounds heavier now, and he hasn’t been wrestling. Yes, he can lose weight, improve his cardio, and work out in the ring from here to April. But it’ll be a different feeling once he gets in front of the fans in Philadelphia and the adrenaline starts flowing. That alone could cause Rocky to become fatigued early, limiting what he can do and exposing him or Reigns to potential injury.

Finally, once we get past the nostalgia and the catchphrases, the reality is that The Rock’s potential return represents a sad state of affairs in pro wrestling.

WWE turning to the 51-year-old wrestling retiree in 2023 would be the same as if Vince McMahon had trotted out 50-year-old Bruno Sammartino to headline the inaugural WrestleMania against Hulk Hogan. While I’m sure that would’ve drawn interest, it doesn’t make it any less depressing, especially for the talent.

And what does that say about today’s stars? Are they not as good as previous generations? Is it because today’s creative process relies more on scripting and less on the input and intuition of the people behind their characters?

While I’ve seen what wrestlers with free rein can come up with (looking at you, AEW), I’m going to fault WWE’s creative department for stifling the talent. And that’s a shame because it doesn’t bode well for the next batch of stars set to take over once the likes of Reigns and Seth Rollins are gone, as they may have even less input on their characters, making them a tad more generic and bland.

On the bright side, thank heavens for anti-aging clinics and modern technology. Because at this rate, wrestling’s next big dream match is likely to feature Bron Breakker battling a 61-year-old Rock, who’ll be as agile as a boulder by then (at least he'll look good), making for a sad spectacle but a spectacle nonetheless.

I can’t wait.

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