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Evaluating The Rock’s Return To The Ring

Pictured: The Rock is back, and he brought his new salt and pepper beard and gaudy-ass tattoos.

So, I watched Survivor Series this past Sunday.

I haven’t watched Raw or Smackdown in at least 5 years now, but like many seasoned wrestling fans; I’m always looking for an excuse to get back in the loop.

Unfortunately, given the general dearth of genuinely interesting or talented wrestlers in the organization these days, said reasons are scarce at best…

That being said, when it came to tuning in to Survivor Series this past weekend, much like Rikishi, I did it for The Rock:

If memory serves me, and I know it does, I believe it’s been about 7 years since The Rock last stepped into the squared circle for a legitimate wrestling match.

Sadly, despite sporting a spectacular physique, the years have not been kind to ‘ole Dwayne’s in-ring coordination.

That’s not to say his main event performance wasn’t all that bad, (it wasn’t) rather it was just a little bit disappointing to see one of my heroes slowly succumb to the horrors of bad knees and premature old fart-ism.

Despite lacking the same explosiveness and distinctive spasmatic body language, The Rock did about as well as one could expect following a 7 year layoff.

Upon entering the arena, I was kind of shocked with how little applause The Rock garnered from the live audience.

Maybe it was just my puny speakers, but it seemed to me like the crowd should’ve been louder given the gravity of the situation.

Then again, maybe my expectations for contemporary wrestling fans are a little too high given the current state of the WWF.

In any case, The Rock milked his entrance and got more applause than John Cena, so it’s all good in my book.

As one would expect in a tag match featuring a returning legend of the industry, The Rock entered the ring last, served as the initial tag partner of his team, and finished the match.

Facing off against The Miz and R-Truth, The Rock’s first moments in the match were, in my opinion; his best.

By the way, if you had asked me if the man formerly known as K-Kwik would ever headline a pay-per-view in the 21st century, I’d have told you “no fucking way.”

Funny how shit works out like that.

Anyway, in matches like this, where 2 mid-tier heels are pitted against a legend with an aura of invincibility, there’s really no logical way for the heels to build momentum against him without resorting to dirty tactics or shenanigans.

Pictured: "Shenanigans."

In going with this line of thinking, The Rock did well to cast an imposing shadow in the ring, bulling his neck and standing rigid and tall.

Basically, he straight up looked untouchable when standing next to the 3 other A-listers in the ring.

At the opening bell, The Rock cut loose with a series of rapid fire armdrags on both of his opponents.

I’ve always said there needed to be more armdrags in wrestling, so this brief sequence did well to satisfy the Rick Steamboat fan in me.

From there, The Rock basically cleaned house, knocking both men out of the ring at one time or another, and employing the first of his many signature move in the form of a somewhat flacid DDT.

It wasn’t so much the DDT itself was lacking, rather it was the gut kick preceding it that, quite literally; fell short.

Fell short as in straight-up missed the mark ala Randy Orton:


This failed gut kick would do well to sum up the whole of The Rock’s in-ring performance at Survivor Series.

To be blunt, he seemed tentative to me, like he held concern for potentially harming his fellow performers.

Strange, considering the amount of contact and brutality that was commonplace during The Rock’s heyday.

In any case, following the DDT, The Rock would later go on to execute a slow, but ably performed kip up, followed by a impressive, and very likely MMA inspired leg submission on R-Truth.

I’ll have to find out what that move was called, cause quite frankly, it was awesome.

Oh yeah, around this time the crowd started shouting, “You still got it!”

That was also awesome.

From there, the match turned into a snore fest for me, as once The Rock tagged in John Cena, the match degenerated into a one-sided beat down of the no-selling wonder.

Seriously man, I paid to see The Rock, and instead, I got stuck with 30 minutes of John Cena failing at getting his ass beat, bookended by 2 minutes of awesome Rock action.

That being said, I’m writing this article about The Rock, so I’ll be foregoing any detailed explanations of the non-Rock segments of the match.

All you really need to know is that it sucked.

Oddly enough, The Rock’s big finish at the end of the match was actually probably one of his weaker moments.

As tends to be the case with big-time wrestlers, The Rock has an ungodly number of signature moves and finishers.

During the climax of a match, many wrestlers like this *cough!* Hulk Hogan *cough!* tend to run through all their big moves like a series of bullet points.

Everybody knows it’s coming, but it’s a big part of what you pay to see when it comes to pro-wrestling.

In the case of The Rock, this involved his trademark slap punch combination, a DDT, a Rock Bottom, and a People’s Elbow to top it all off.

The weird part was, and this may have had something to do with a lack of energy in the room, but The Rock’s big finish seemed a little bit lackadaisical.

Once again, it may be a combination of bad knees and improper conditioning, but The Rock’s punches lacked the same jittery energy they used to.

As also mentioned before, his DDT fell short of the mark a second time, with the gut kick once again whiffing by a country mile.

His Rock Bottom felt wimpy.

And most electrifying move in sports entertainment or not, his People’s Elbow failed to get a rise out of me.

Despite performing well overall, The Rock seemed most uncomfortable doing the simplest and most familiar moves in his repertoire, the ones that made him famous.

In all, The Rock seemed at his best during the more heavily choreographed portions of the match at the beginning, which isn’t surprising given his recent time spent performing action scenes in Hollywood films.

He didn’t embarrass himself, and he certainly did well enough to make me glad to see him back in the saddle, but at the end of the day, it was strange to see a Rock faded to the point of being, almost human.

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