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Greetings, salutations, and howarya? Welcome to the column that grabs hold of and issue and beats the heck out of it from both sides; BrewGuy's Yin and Yang. What's the difference between the two? Glad you asked.

The Yin is the good. The Yang is the bad. The Yin is optimism. The Yang is pessimism. The Yin is a glass half full. The Yang is a glass half empty. The Yin is why I like it. The Yang is why I don't.

The Subject:

You know him as The Great One, the Brahma Bull, The People's Champion, and the Most Electrifying Man In Sports Entertainment, but the world knows him as...The Rock.

The Rock is the biggest star of wrestling today. His charisma and mic talent are truly unmatched. His athletic ability is excellent, he sells like he's gonna die, and he's the person any non-wrestling fan thinks of first when they're asked "do you watch wrestling?" or "do you know any of the wrestlers?". In essence, The Rock is the Hulk Hogan of wrestling right now. He is "it". He is the MAN, and there's nobody (well, maybe Austin, but that's debatable) who can match his mainstream popularity. Like it or not, everything revolves around The Rock.

My sister's boyfriend is visiting her currently. He's from Scotland. He does not watch wrestling. I asked him if he knows much about it; he shook his head, then said in his cool Scottish accent "The Rock? Isn't he one of the guys, The Rock?"

My brother does not watch wrestling on a consistent basis at all. Up until recently, he's never watched more than 5 minutes of any show. But, he's a HUGE Rock fan. He LOVES his mic work; for him, the only reason to watch is to see what The Rock is gonna say THIS week. Last Monday, he sat down and watched the ENTIRE 2 hours of Raw with me, for one reason, and one reason only. You guessed it - The Rock. Even while the 'dramatic' interview was taking place at the end, he'd say "oh, just give The Rock the mic already!!" For him, and for many, many others out there, wrestling is all about The Rock.

The Yin:

The Ratings, The Ratings, Oh My GOD, The Ratings
The Raw episode before the Rock's return did a 5.3 rating average over the entire show, and a solid 6.1 in the over-run. On the Raw episode which featured the return of the Rock, the show did a 5.7 average and a massive 7.1 in the over-run. So people, just knowing that the Rock was going to be on, tuned in to see him, and when he was ACTUALLY on, the ratings grew A FULL POINT. That's just scary. Name one wrestler that would make this much of a difference during a "comeback". That's not a knock on anybody; just a testament to the popularity of The Rock in and out of wrestling circles. When he's on the TV, people don't change the channel; it's that simple. The Rock is more directly linked to the financial future of the WWF than any other performer.

Rocky has Respect
Thankfully, Rocky is not the backstage politician Hogan is, even though he is (arguably) in the position to do so. He'll do what it takes to tell the story. He'll job. He'll sell like crazy. He'll use his stature to elevate others. And, most importantly, he respects the business. Being a third-generation wrestler, he grew up with it, and to his credit, he has never allowed himself to become an egomaniac (even if his character is). Even though he IS the business right now, he doesn't see himself as ABOVE the business, and you have to respect that. Look at Buff Bagwell. The guy lasted, what, two weeks in the WWF once they put him on TV? His attitude was THAT bad. And to say he's even a main eventer is questionable at best. Yet, there's Rocky, workin' his butt off, and doing what needs to be done.

The Yang:

Generally, all stories involving the Rock have been "cookie cutters"; that is, wrestling fans can generally predict what is going to happen in the long run. The story usually goes:

a) Rocky says something bad about somebody
b) That somebody takes exception to Rock mouthing off
c) Rocky and the somebody trade punk-outs for a few shows
d) A match is set at the next upcoming PPV
e) Rock gets his revenge at said PPV

There has been exceptions: Rock's feud with Chris Benoit is a good example, when the Rock "stole" the Crippler Crossface from Benoit, and added the now-somewhat-patented patented "dragon leg screw into the Sharpshooter" combo into his repertoire. However, these types of storylines have been few and far between.

The Rock's Five Moves Of Doom
Yes, that's a Bret Hart reference, but it also applies here. The Rock's offense comes almost completely from a mere five moves:

a) Dragon Leg Screw into the Sharpshooter (ok, it's really two moves, but they ALWAYS follow one another)
b) Spinebuster
c) Samoan Drop
d) Rock Bottom
e) The People's Elbow

Everything else is clotheslines, back body drops, and whoooole lot of right hands. The last two moves generally come at the end of the match, and there's certainly no guarantee that he'll use ALL those moves in one match. Granted, these are the moves that the people want to see, and that's fine; but in order to tell a real robust story in the ring, The Rock must continue to expand his moveset. Not too quickly, perhaps, but it must be done. Even simple things will be effective. What if The Rock was able to gorilla press somebody? Or landed an elbow (maybe even a People's Elbow) from the top rope? These are generally normal moves for a mid-card wrestler, but if the Rock did them, the crowd would go NUTS. In fact, they'd be so damn special that he could save them for PPV matches only.

The Question:
Now that you've read the Ying and Yang - What do you think about The Rock?

My Answer:
There's very rarely a time when I do not laugh heartily when the Rock cuts a promo. There's simply nobody better. And when the fans get into the Rock's match (as they always do), it helps me to get into the match as well, and that's a pretty amazing skill to have. The thing that scares me the most is that if the Rock continues wrestling and doesn't go off into a movie career (not that there's anything wrong with that), his potential is limitless. There are SO many things he could do, if he wants to. If he really became a true "student of the game", and learned some of the aspects of a good technical wrestling match, it's quite possible The Rock could be the first person to unify the opinions of non-wrestling fans and wrestling fans alike. We'd love him for his skills and in-ring ability, while non-wrestling fans would love him for his charisma and his ability to entertain. Nobody's ever really done that. The Rock can....if he wants to.

Your Answer: Hey, you tell me!

'till next time! BrewGuy
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