The Rock's relationship with major WWE star soured after controversial comments, ex-writer recalls
The Rock was left "surprised and actually shocked" when John Cena disrespected him in an interview, according to former WWE writer Brian Gewirtz.
Cena famously criticized The Rock in 2008, four years before they met in their first blockbuster match in the WrestleMania 28 main event. In an interview with The Sun, the 16-time world champion claimed the Hollywood star "doesn't give anything back" to the wrestling business.
Gewirtz wrote about the controversial comments in his book, There's Just One Problem...: True Tales from the Former, One-Time, 7th Most Powerful Person in WWE. He recalled how The Rock was disappointed when he heard what Cena had to say:
"Rock had been a fan of John's, and to hear these comments really didn't sit well," Gewirtz wrote. "It would be one thing if John expressed these things face-to-face, but for Rock to hear them in a radio interview was jarring."
The Great One also took exception to Cena's claim that he lied about his continued passion for WWE after going to Hollywood:
"For Rock, that last part crossed the line," Gewirtz continued. "When it happened, I talked to Rock about it and he told me point-blank he was surprised and actually shocked that the guy who took his place as the face of the company was so flippant—and so disrespectful—with his words. Rock knew one day he'd see John and hold him accountable. Make no mistake, there would be a day of reckoning."
The real-life tension led to a lengthy WWE storyline, beginning in 2011 at WrestleMania 27. The Rock hosted the event, which was headlined by The Miz vs. John Cena. The movie star cost Cena the victory to set up a match between the two men at WrestleMania 28.
How John Cena and The Rock grew to respect each other
The WrestleMania 28 match was one of the biggest in wrestling history. Billed as Once in a Lifetime, The Rock defeated John Cena in his first WWE singles match in nine years. The following year, Cena won the rematch at WrestleMania 29 to capture the WWE Championship.
Brian Gewirtz added that both men developed a respect for each other after their first match:
"Compared to the buildup, the event itself, WrestleMania 28 was a cakewalk. (Well, for me at least, since I didn’t have to actually wrestle a half-hour-long match in front of seventy-eight thousand people.) After the match, Rock and Cena were buzzing—thrilled with the match and the reaction from the fans. They met backstage afterward, and it was there I saw a true mutual respect grow between them."
Three years after their rivalry concluded, Cena and The Rock joined forces at WrestleMania 32 to fight off an attack from The Wyatt Family. The latter also defeated Erick Rowan in a six-second match at the event.
Did you enjoy the Once in a Lifetime storyline? Let us know in the comments section below.
Brian Gewirtz's book, There's Just One Problem...: True Tales from the Former, One-Time, 7th Most Powerful Person in WWE, is available to buy on Amazon.
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