During The Rock's third WrestleMania Season Tour with WWE, there are still feelings of resentment toward him in some circles of the locker room.
Rock addressed that in a Twitter post Saturday night. "Thank U WWE Superstars for the awesome welcoming me back & getting the 'big picture' plan. You're true locker room leaders! #RoadToMania," Rock tweeted.
Not all are on-board with the "big picture plan," which is essentially that Rock's return makes everything in WWE bigger and makes everyone more money. This is especially the case after Rock's in-ring return at the Royal Rumble, which received mixed reviews backstage. The following is an exclusive break down of sources of resentment in the locker room.
- Some wrestlers noted that Rock came back to WWE looking very muscular in a way that they believe they cannot, whether it's because of the schedule or how WWE approaches their careers.
- At the Rumble, there was some resentment toward Rock because they felt he was not in great ring shape for his first match back in WWE. Now there's pressure on Rock to come back at the Elimination Chamber in two weeks in better cardio condition. Also, the pressure is on to be in-shape for WrestleMania in April, but the issue for Rock is that Mania is one month before he films "Hercules," which is a role that he has to look jacked for.
- Wrestlers with an eye for how other wrestlers perform have noted that Rock wasn't moving around much in the ring with C.M. Punk. The main point of emphasis is that Rock did not bounce or spring off the ropes as much as he used to. Rock is 40-years-old now, is carrying muscle mass, and there was ring rust at the Rumble PPV. At 40, it's starting to be noticeable and it's more difficult to shake off the ring rust.
The Rumble PPV match could be passed off as Rock holding back for the Chamber, especially knowing it would be a re-match against Punk. But, there is no hiding ring rust.
- Rock is said to have no allies from the current locker room. Rock has isolated himself behind-the-scenes, which is due to how he feels he's been treated since returning to WWE and so that he can tend to other business affairs. But, there are also stories of how Rock has gone out of his way to talk to wrestlers and offer advice. It's a touchy situation, almost on a case-by-case basis how certain wrestlers receive him, which has led to mixed feelings about Rock's presence in WWE.
Rock senses it. According to backstage sources, Rock feels like he's being scrutinized by the current locker room. After his memorable pre-match promo during the Rumble PPV, Rock carried himself like, 'How do you like that everyone who doubts me?' There was an extra spring in his step, which some observers took as either adrenaline before the match or arrogance. As an "outsider," it came across like Rock telling people, 'Don't forget that I can do that. Now, you step up and do it.'
- Also from Rock's pre-title match promo, Rock did not stray from the truth when he said he came back to WWE for the fans and for his mom, who was shown in the crowd. The message is that he did not come back to WWE for the wrestlers, especially due to how he feels he's been treated since returning.
It comes down to Rock enjoying the live-crowd interaction and having a rich family tradition in the wrestling business. Rock is certainly getting paid nicely and there is loyalty to WWE and Vince McMahon, but his main loyalty is to pro wrestling genre, and WWE is the biggest stage.
- Another source of locker room resentment is the feeling that Rock is using his planned WWE Title run as a marketing tool for his movie career. Wrestlers feel like Rock is telling lapsed wrestling fans that he's "part of WWE again" and he still likes wrestling, so come see my latest movie. Essentially, the relationship is mutually beneficial for both Rock and WWE, which will be getting plenty of mainstream exposure when Rock starts promoting his 2013 slate of movies.