Now, before you roll your eyes at this thread, I'm not here to start another Rock vs. Cena debate. Quite the opposite, actually.
I've been thinking a lot about how this feud will be remembered now that it's officially over. It was certainly a feud that people had strong opinions on, as we all know with having read (and participated in) the many arguments on here over the last three years. I know that I was very critical of it at times, specifically after the terrible ending to Mania 27, and what I thought at the time was a terrible booking decision to end Mania 28.
But I'm going to try and be as unbiased as I possibly can, and throw some new thoughts out there that might go against what I've said in the past.
First of all, The Rock going over John Cena at WrestleMania 28, in hindsight, was not that bad of a booking decision.
A couple things led to me realizing that. First of all, The Rock's statement that the entire feud was planned years ago, and that the end goal was always to put Cena over (which I see no real reason not to believe). Secondly, and most importantly, the strong buyrate for this year's event, which proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that their strategy worked.
I may be a lot of things, but I'm not one to argue against the numbers. I wasn't sure that they could do a similar number the following year; clearly, I was wrong. Ultimately, they got three massively successful WrestleManias out of a single feud, and as a business, you can't ask for much more than that.
But another thing is that the story itself was honestly a good one. The idea that they wanted to build Rock up to a godlike level, and make him Cena's kryptonite of sorts, only for Cena to finally take him down in the end is pretty damn solid.
The story's execution wasn't always perfect, though; I thought the buildup to 28 was rather inconsistent with the ending of that match, and there were points recently when I didn't feel like Cena was selling his focus enough (i.e. his promos going into the Rumble).
Another point of justified criticism is the way the matches played out, what with Rock being not so capable of putting on a truly athletic performance. It's true that neither match will go down in history as a mat classic or anything like that, but I enjoyed them both, particularly this year's.
Many people thought this year's ending didn't fit with the story. I disagree.
The way I see it, Rock and Cena always respected one another as performers, but just didn't like each other as individuals. That respect grew to a new level after their first encounter at Mania 28, when they brought the best out of each other; hence why the Mania 29 buildup was more about being the best than settling a personal grudge. That grudge was more or less settled the first time (and hell, maybe it's even more fitting that Rock won that one, seeing as how Cena was the one who started the personal stuff way back when).
And sure, Rock said that he had no intention of passing the torch, but that was because he planned to win the match. Once he lost, it made sense for him to be a sportsman and bow out to the guy he had gone to war with, for better or for worse, and perhaps the only guy with as much respect for the business and the WWE Championship as him.
I know there are different interpretations of it and I'm not saying mine is right, but that's how I saw it.
And speaking of different interpretations, perhaps my most important point:
I know the debates got to be tiresome, but were they really a bad thing?
Granted, there's only so many times the same two sides could repeat the same set of points without it becoming tiresome. But when you put those actual points aside for a minute, it cannot be argued that everyone who ever vehemently argued in favor of either guy was somehow invested in the outcome of each of the two matches, and overall, the feud.
Maybe that means that WWE did their job better than any of us thought. Because isn't that point of it all? For us, as fans, to get involved and to care about whether our favorite superstar wins or loses?
Perhaps all the arguing was just a manifestation of how much we all truly did care.
I realize this thread basically amounts to a huge ramble, and half of you aren't going to read it, which is fine. But for those who have made it to this point, I'd like to know your thoughts.
Did you enjoy the feud?
Would you have done it differently?
And how do you think it will be remembered, years from now, when it becomes a part of distant history?