If there were a poll asking WWE fans to choose The Rock’s biggest rival, I’m sure “Stone Cold” Steve Austin would far and away be the clear winner, having faced off against “The Brahma Bull” in three separate WrestleManias. If there were another poll questioning who his most natural rival was, Triple H would get all my votes; which is why I would love to see the two face off at WrestleMania 32. Now, before you go kicking the messenger into the bottomless pit, allow me to explain. And if you still wanna “300” thrust kick me, then take your shot.
This is no stroll down Attitude Era memory lane; there’s also no denying the fact that they were two of the biggest superstars of that time. For those of you currently dishing out that $9.99 a month for the WWE Network, I challenge you to find a pay-per-view from the year 2000 where they weren’t featured or main eventing. Even before that, they rivaled each other as members of Degeneration-X and The Nation of Domination. Their careers, and ultimately their ascension to main event status basically mirrored the other. Stone Cold was already the top dog as they were climbing the ladder, literally and figuratively. Their SummerSlam 98 Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Title was a launchpad (McQuack…..sorry) for both their careers as top guys in the business.
As a wrestling fan, one thing that I absolutely cannot stand is when I can tell that superstars or divas are simply going through the motions or dialing it in. This might be the old fart in me, but if they’re gonna dial it in, then it’s probably best for them to not even climb into the ring. I want the action to be believable and to tell a good story.
The Rock and Triple H, for as long as I’ve been watching the two, have never been the ones to just dial it in. Now, considering WrestleMania’s location at Jerry World in Dallas, with over a hundred thousand screaming fans, it’d be improbable, almost impossible, for them to simply have a bad match. They’re both in great shape, although Rock would probably need to work on his conditioning and ring rust. Plus, if you’re going to the big dance, don’t you wanna dance with the partner you’re most familiar with?
I’ve seen a few comments here and there that Trips and Rock should both face off against today’s superstars. To that I say a million times no and here’s why. Last year’s matchup between Bray Wyatt and The Undertaker was not only an “eh” match, but there was no followup. The build was okay with the vignettes and whatnot, but with nothing to do after that match, Bray’s character became extremely stale until Money In The Bank when he began his current feud with Roman Reigns. The question is, why would anyone want that? By having Rock and HHH face off against each other, there’s no need to cap it off or follow it up the next night on Raw. Which segues into…
The alleged Triple H versus Seth Rollins match is one that I have zero personal interest in watching. The Authority storyline is stale and molding; so much so that not even the prospect of a payoff match between Seth and Hunter isn’t enough to make me want to see them face off. The storyline has more than run its course and much like the People Power Era featuring good ole Johnny Ace, I honestly wish they’d just go away. Seth has survived bad booking throughout his title reign and put on some great matches, and I just hate to think that his reward (or punishment for that matter) is a match against The Game-uh. Then, we’d have to revive and revisit the ‘Triple H buries talent’ debate which is collecting mold right alongside The Authority storyline.
A matchup between the two would also be a great payoff to their last two encounters. The first was The Rock’s return to Smackdown! during the 15th Anniversary broadcast last October. I can’t watch that segment and NOT get goosebumps. When I first saw that clip, I instantly wanted another matchup at Mania because of the way they detailed their rich history by making jokes, then turning serious. Their most recent interaction at this year’s Mania made me clamor even more for the two to face off. I have to be honest, I was never quite enthralled by the prospect of a mixed tag match featuring The Rock and Ronda Rousey against Triple H and Stephanie. Sure, it would have been a mega draw, but I believe that The Scorpion King and Jarko Grimwood (“Blade: Trinity”) deserve their own spotlight. Hopefully they get it.
How about some fantasy creative? Can’t you just imagine the story they could tell both in and out of the ring. Just envision it:
Triple H: “Rock, you love using the word ‘jabroni’ but the only jabroni I see couldn’t cut it here in the WWE so he ran off to Hollywood because he got tired of The Game whipping his ass! Or maybe you knew you’d never be as good as me. This was the wrong business for you then, and all these years later, it’s still the wrong business for you. I mean look around, Rock…who has outlasted every superstar of the Attitude Era? Me! Who has this business and the WWE in the palm of his hand? Me! Who whipped your ass on the inaugural episode of your own show? Me! And whose hand will get raised at the end of our match on the grandest stage of em all? Me! The Game! And you wanna come back every six months to sing your nursery rhymes, and challenge me? Our rivalry being what it was, lemme just say with one hundred percent conviction that you weren’t in my league then, and you sure as hell aren’t in my league now!”
If you didn’t read that scripted promo using your best Hunter voice, you did it wrong and should likely do it again; then see if you don’t hype yourself up for that match. No? Still not enough? Okay, here’s a scripted retort for The People’s Champ minus the standard sing along with The Rock standbys.
The Rock: “Triple H you run your mouth about how The Great One ran off to Hollywood because he was tired of getting his ass kicked. Let The Rock tell you something, you, off all people should be glad The Rock went off to make movies, because if he hadn’t, he’d be kicking your monkey ass all the way from your hometown in Greenwich, Connecticut, to St. Louis, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Charlotte, San Bernadino, Saginaw…hell, there’d be nothing….and The Rock means…you could do to keep The Brahma Bull from putting his boot to your ass all over God’s green Earth! But what have you done since The Rock left? Evolution? Your candy ass, an over-the-hill geriatric, a musclebound freak and a Rattlesnake wannabe you call a Viper? The Authority? The McMahon-Helmsley era 2.0? You should be glad The Great One came back because you haven’t done anything mildly entertaining since the time you dressed up like The People’s Champ and called yourself ‘The Crock.’ Every week you come out here and bore the people with your promos full of hot air, your ridiculous looking suits, and adjusting for inflation, your $1.50 slut for a wife!”
Okay, maybe a few old standbys and maybe a little less provocative language, but again, how can you not envision the potential interaction and not get a excited? Maybe we cut The Rock’s promo down a little and give him a couple of cue cards or some permanent markers so he can write his talking points on his hand, but still, very high entertainment value.
Bringing in former superstars for Mania is always going to be good for business, but what’s not good is having them feud with current superstars for a one shot match with repercussions that won’t reverberate past the big show. That’s why having two of the biggest Attitude Era stars face off against each other is a great idea to enhance the show. It’d be a good, physical match between two opponents who know each other like the back of their respective hands. The winner of the match really wouldn’t even matter because it’s not like a loss would set either of their characters back. Although, selfishly I’d love to see The Rock go over just to add it to his WrestleMania resume, having faced off and beaten the biggest names of nearly every generation of superstars from Stone Cold, to Hulk Hogan and more recently, John Cena. Some fans might even like to add a stipulation to the match, which would also work well.
Now, if you still wanna kick the messenger into the “300” pit, go right ahead. Just make your reasoning clear; either you wanna kill the messenger because you think I’m dead wrong or I’m spot on with all my ideas and you’re just angry you didn’t think of them. Either way, take your shot. The Rock and Triple H were born to oppose each other, so let’s see it once more on the Grandest Stage of Them All.