If you remember the feud between The Rock and John Cena leading into WrestleMania 28, it wasn’t your typical wrestling storyline. There was definitely some underlying tension between the two mega-superstars leading into their big showdown in Miami. In fact, it began years before that when Cena made comments about The Rock not coming back to the WWE with “The Great One” responding that he was surprised Cena would say that.
Well, all of those things manifested in their promos once they agreed to get in the ring with one another.
It sure looked like they didn’t like each other as they slung barbs at one another in a way you don’t typically see on WWE television. That’s because this was a real rivalry between the two bigger-than-life personas that played out in front of everyone which The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) admitted in an interview with Muscle and Fitness magazine.
M&F: So that was real. You’re telling me that’s real?
DJ: Yes, it was very real. When I came back, I needed something real to sink my teeth into, as a performer.
M&F: And why was that?
DJ: John had said some things in an interview that I took exception [in essence, that the Rock cared only about being an actor not about wrestling or WWE fans]. He felt they were okay, I felt that they weren’t okay. I also laughed it off years ago but it wasn’t until I came back and realized that the marquee match-up was going to be between he and I that I would take that edge that we had—and let’s use it. So, we don’t have to hang out, we don’t have to be best friends, we won’t be friends at all.
M&F: Well it worked, because I remember watching it and being like, ‘I think these guys really hate each other.’ I just couldn’t separate it and it was really hard to figure out, and it was awesome to watch for that reason.
DJ: It got really uncomfortable for a lot of people. And it gets uncomfortable for the fans–that they sense something. But then when it gets uncomfortable for the wrestlers and to the executives and the company, then it’s something special.
M&F: Did it get there?
DJ: Right away. And it continued to build. And what happens in wrestling is anybody who is in a feud and anybody who is in a match, everybody knows what everybody is going say. In this case, we approached it differently.
I’d say ‘John, here’s what I’m going to say tonight: Go f**k yourself.’ He’d say, ‘Well, here’s going to be my response: F**k you too.’ I mean, it was like that. And it was palpable for the fans, and it was palpable backstage. And I would never be like that under any other circumstance. I’m collaborative with everyone I work with. And I take a lot of pride in that, and you know something? So is John. He’s a great guy. He’s one of the best guys out there, but here’s what we realized: If we wanted to build the two biggest matchups back-to-back and create something special in Miami and in New York, we’re going to do it this way. And we might fail miserably at it. People might think it’s not real or you run into the challenge of the potential for people to go, ‘It’s so real that it’s not real.’ But in this case it worked out very well and through all that edge and attitude and bite that we had and nearly coming to blows backstage and one night in the ring—literally we were nose-to-nose, it was any second. And through that in a crazy, weird completely unexplained way, we became great buds.
I guess sometimes you need to have it out before you can get past things and and become friends. But typically in wrestling, the best feuds are the ones that do have some real animosity involved.
Also in the interview, The Rock detailed the gruesome injury he suffered during his rematch with Cena at WrestleMania 29 which happened right before he was set to film Hercules, a role that was already going to be physically challenging.
Any athlete or any actor who’s preparing for a long time to step on a stage or step on a field or step on a movie set, who suffers an injury right before you’re getting ready to perform or to execute–it is a massive challenge that’s thrown your way that you didn’t expect. I wound up tearing my rectus tendon from my pelvis I also tore my adductor from my pelvis, then had a triple hernia as well.
Rectus tendon?! I’ve never even heard of that. And you can get a TRIPLE hernia?!
The match was scheduled to go approximately 50 minutes and about minute 25, is when I tore my rectus. I asked the referee at that time how much time do we have left, and he said, ‘Well we’ve got about another 25 minutes. Are you okay?’ And I said ‘Yeah, I’m good.’ Which I knew I wasn’t, but I knew when I stood up, as long as I could put a little pressure on one leg and kind of move the other one around… You know when you lose your rectus tendon–that’s a tough tendon to lose because you can’t push off of it and you don’t have a lot of power in it. So I think what happened was because I had to continue another 25 minutes on that. As you know, when something like that happens, all the surrounding muscles start to weaken. I didn’t know what the extent of the injury was until the very next day. I flew home to Miami and went to see my doctors at the University of Miami.
That’s one tough guy as he chose rehab rather than surgery for his injuries which would have pushed back the movie a year. Instead, he sucked it up and somehow pushed through it. How? I have no earthly idea.
As for coming back for another match, Rock says he’s open to it.
Yeah, I’d love to. We just have to figure out what it could be and what the most ideal matchup would be, and who it would be with. Because I always feel like if I go back to the WWE, then it has to be bigger and greater than what I’ve done in the past, and I don’t know what could be bigger in terms of marquee value—in terms of value across the board—and to me it has to surpass what we’ve done.
Who that might be is anyone’s guess. Possibly Brock Lesnar who he was supposed to face at WrestleMania 30 before he got tore up the year before. Would Sting fit the bill? Maybe. Roman Reigns would be very intriguing as well with Reigns taking a huge step forward with a win over a bonafide superstar.
Then again, let’s see if Rock comes back as he is rumored to make about $30 million per movie and was injured in both of his return matches against Cena which I’m sure makes his people and Hollywood execs very nervous about him laying the smack down in a WWE ring.