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From People’s Champ to public enemy: Is The Rock WWE’s next evil boss?

Dwayne Johnson has returned to WWE with power and he’s (allegedly) not afraid to use it. Might he become wrestling’s next heel authority figure?

As The Rock peers over his shoulder at Roman Reigns, might it be Reigns and the rest of the WWE Superstars who need to watch out?
WWE.com

With great power comes great responsibility.

That’s the lesson Ben Parker tried to teach his nephew Peter in the fictional world of Marvel Comics. Unfortunately, it’s a lesson Peter only learned after he failed to use his newfound superpowers as Spider-Man to stop a thief who would go on to kill his beloved uncle.

In the world of WWE, where reality and fiction meet, Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, is the newest member of the board of directors for WWE’s parent company, TKO Group Holdings, Inc. With his new role comes various powers and responsibilities within the organization. But rather than use any authority he has for good, as Spider-Man would go on to do, Johnson, in the eyes of many, became the thief after Cody Rhodes turned over his opportunity to face Roman Reigns at WrestleMania XL for the Undisputed Universal Championship to Johnson.

It has yet to be explained within WWE’s storyline why Rhodes shockingly forfeited his chance to finish his story and honor his father Dusty Rhodes by winning the championship his dad failed to capture during his career. However, the narrative behind the scenes is that Johnson is allegedly using his influence to “save WrestleMania” following injuries and a scandal that led to other changes that stand to jeopardize the show. That story also states that Johnson wanted to return to the ring as soon as possible as it would help him reach certain milestones in his contract with TKO, which is said to include just over $30 million in TKO stock.

Regardless of the reasoning, Johnson has quickly become an enemy to the people, specifically, a group that follows reports of behind-the-scenes activity intently. His perceived actions could lead to a fan revolt at WrestleMania, making Johnson a very unpopular character in a one-off against the Tribal Chief.

But what if Johnson’s so-called benevolence goes beyond saving WrestleMania and leads to him wanting to save WWE? Fans could be facing a more hands-on Rock in the future, one who controls WWE from its board while possibly serving as the new Undisputed Champion. Amid turmoil and backlash, Johnson could lean into that and play into the negative press he has received in recent years to become WWE’s next heel boss.

In 2023, reports surfaced accusing Johnson and his ego of crippling two DC Universe franchises in Black Adam and Shazam. As the story goes, Johnson tried to distance his character, Black Adam, from his canonical link to the Shazam universe to work a movie program with Henry Cavill’s Superman.

Before that, Johnson had a public falling out with Fast & Furious franchise star Vin Diesel that saw Johnson call Diesel out for allegedly trying to manipulate him into rejoining the team after choosing to depart from the film series. In between, fellow Fast star Tyrese Gibson blasted Johnson, calling him a clown in 2017 and accusing him of breaking up the Fast & Furious family and attempting to make the franchise about himself.

With his supposed efforts to overtake two movie franchises gone bust, Johnson could waltz in and overthrow the power structure of an embattled WWE by inserting himself as an occasional star and in-ring attraction, one who serves as the brand’s top champion.

Perhaps there was something to Seth Rollins’ words last week when he called the WWE Championship the Hollywood title as he issued a challenge to Cody Rhodes to face him for his World Heavyweight Championship. If that’s the case, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and others could see their roles diminished much like fans saw Rhodes ousted from his WrestleMania spot, as Johnson portrays wrestling’s next top villain, the latest authority figure to go mad with power.

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