WWE Doesn't Need The Rock Or Stone Cold To Make WrestleMania 39 A Success
For months, WWE fans heard rumors about The Rock entering and winning the Royal Rumble, which would set him up for a dream match against Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 39. More recently, audiences caught wind of the company offering Stone Cold Steve Austin a
boatload four-wheeler of money to appear at the Showcase of the Immortals, no doubt in an attempt to bolster their marquee in Hollywood. Yet the premium live event came and went without the glass shattering or those in attendance being asked if they could smell what The Rock is cookin’. This lack of mythical wrestlers left some viewers of the Royal Rumble disappointed.
After Logan Paul joined the match at No. 29 and Cody Rhodes entered at No. 30, it became clear that there’d be no Rock or Stone Cold at the Alamodome. More importantly, it also indicated that neither legend would be involved at WrestleMania 39. Anything can happen, which Triple H spoke to during his post-PLE press conference, but as it stands, WWE has no plans for either man to be at the Show of Shows. As fun as it would have been to watch The Great One take on The Tribal Chief on April 2, his not being there isn’t the end of the world. Instead, this is a rare instance where a big-five show might be better off without The Rock or Stone Cold Steve Austin. Let’s get into why.
In October or November, adding The Rock to the Bloodline arc would have made all the sense in the World for WWE. Roman Reigns was on fire as the Head of the Table, and Rocky coming back to see what all the fuss was about is a story that would have written itself. Professional wrestling is an unpredictable beast sometimes, though, and storylines can take on a life of their own.
Not even the most ardent Sami Zayn supporters could have predicted that he’d be the star of the show by the time Royal Rumble time rolled around. Initially, he seemed like a tacked-on afterthought as The Usos, Solo Sikoa, and Reigns worked through their family business alongside Paul Heyman. That started to change in November, as fans fell in love with Zayn and his genuine attempts to be accepted by The Bloodline. The Honorary Uce was eventually born, and with him, one of the best examples of long-form storytelling in WWE history.
It became arguably the top angle in all professional wrestling, largely thanks to Sami Zayn making everything he was handed click at 110 percent. It was a Bryan Danielson-type perfect storm, with everything coming together beautifully for the underdog. By the Royal Rumble, The Bloodline saga had so much momentum that nothing could stop it. Nothing, except for Hollywood’s most massive star and one of the greatest to ever lace up a pair of boots, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. WWE could have found a way to make it work, but the story’s ending would have fallen as flat as Baywatch did in 2017.
Ask WWE fans to list their favorite WrestleMania 38 moments, and most will mention seeing Stone Cold Steve Austin wrestle again at the top. There’s a good reason for that too. The Bionic Redneck was pro wrestling’s top star during a period of social relevancy that hadn’t been seen up to that point and hasn’t been seen since. He also never got a proper swan song, forced into early retirement by a career’s worth of injuries. He was able to return to work with Kevin Owens last year, however, and the audience gave him the send-off that he should have gotten after losing to The Rock at WrestleMania 19. It’d be fun to see him wrestle again, and all signs point to him being healthy enough to do so. Yet there’s a feeling that WrestleMania 39 should belong to the next wave of stars.
Over the last few years, Attitude Era stars ranging from Triple H to Undertaker to Stone Cold have been able to say their goodbyes at WrestleMania. This year, the winners of the Royal Rumble should be the ones leading the charge—and heading up the marquee—as WWE continues to move forward with the creation of new legends. In 2023, the Granddaddy of them All should belong to Roman Reigns, Cody Rhodes, Rhea Ripley, and Charlotte Flair. The Rock and Stone Cold wouldn’t preclude that from happening, but they’d steal more than their fair share of the spotlight.
If WWE wasn’t in such an ideal spot in terms of talent, then shoehorning Rock or Austin into a pair of matches would make more sense. That isn’t where the company is at this juncture, though. After years of investing in up-and-coming stars in NXT, the fruit of those labors is finally starting to ripen. Sure, Cody Rhodes had to leave and start a rival promotion to get his due, but WWE hasn’t dropped the ball on him a second time. And 26-year-old Rhea Ripley could be the face of the women’s division for the next 10 or 15 years. If adding The Rock or Stone Cold to the card would take any of the limelight away from Rhodes and Ripley—and it would—then that opportunity cost is too great for WWE to pay. WrestleMania 39 will be just fine without these two wrestling titans. Not because they are no longer relevant but because the only way today’s stars can reach a Rock or Stone Cold level is by being allowed to take center stage at the biggest show of the year.
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