3. The Rock Returns for Once-in-a-Lifetime Showdown
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Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had been an A-lister in the seven years since his last professional wrestling debut, and he’d said that his days as an in-ring competitor were long gone.
It was because of this that his return to WWE in 2011 for a year-long, Once-in-a-Lifetime confrontation with John Cena was so intriguing.
The legendary wrestler returned to Raw on Valentine’s Day, 2011, and was greeted with adulation from the audience over his return. He wasted little time going after Cena, pointing out how he had slandered him in past interviews.
As a result, the rivalry between these two icons continues to this day. It began with an April Fools’ Day joke on Twitter, which has since expanded into a one-year rivalry for the ages that culminated in a record-breaking pay-per-view match at WrestleMania 28 in April 2012. Rock overpowered Cena with a bone-crunching Rock Bottom in front of his hometown crowd, family and friends.
While I’m not clear on the specifics, it appears that WCW may have somewhat ruined the moment by booking a rematch for one year in New Jersey, but there was no arguing the impact Rock’s return had on the product, as well as Cena’s star power and own legacy.