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Paul Heyman Explains Why We Won't Be Seeing The Rock At WrestleMania

The Wiseman recently gave his candid thoughts on the Rock’s current WWE status.

By Chris Phelan
The Rock smiling and clapping

The Rock returning to WWE has had the distinction of being the most gossip-fueled rumor in recent memory.

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Everything started last year when the Rock — seemingly out of left field — declared himself the “True Head of the Table” during a media interview. Eyebrows were raised (no pun intended) even further when official WWE promotional materials contained allusions to the Rock appearing at the Royal Rumble. But January came and went, and as the WWE Universe began the Road to WrestleMania, they came to the sober realization that the Rock won’t be with them on the journey.

For now, there is no timetable for The Rock’s WWE return, and the mere notion of it ever happening again is in question. Recently, Paul Heyman made an appearance on the "SI Media With Jimmy Traina" podcast and was unsurprisingly candid about how a potential Rock showdown with Roman Reigns never came to fruition.

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Heyman wasted no time at all revealing that he never bought into the rumor mill hype that has been churning over the past half-year or so.

“I never spoke to Dwayne about this year’s WrestleMania,” he said. “I always heard his name being thrown around. I couldn’t imagine with his schedule, with his promotional schedule, with the launch of the XFL, with all the projects that he has on his plate, that he would be able to take the time to get back into what we would call ring shape.”

Heyman isn’t wrong: Looking back, especially with the launch of the XFL impeding things, there really just wasn’t enough free hours in the day for the Rock to dedicate himself to making a shocking return. But before getting into his explanation of what other things factored into why he believes the Rock didn’t attempt a comeback this time around, Heyman took a second to marvel about the peak physical condition that the Great One always seems to keep himself in.

“Aesthetically, does anybody in Hollywood even compare it to him? No. Could he run a marathon? I don’t know. Maybe. I’m sure he has great cardio, but cardio itself and cardio in the ring and being in ring shape are two completely different things," he said.

According to Heyman, it seems that he believes the Rock’s schedule — and pride — got in the way of a WWE return in 2023. Rock simply wouldn’t have enough time to shake off the ring rust that has accumulated since he last competed in a match that lasted longer than six seconds, which would’ve been WrestleMania 2013 against John Cena. Ten years is a long time, after all.

Don’t get it twisted, though: Heyman thinks Rock still could put on a short match today with no training — based on instincts and experience alone.

“Could Dwayne Johnson have come back and put together a really classic, very memorable 15-minute match with Roman Reigns for this year’s WrestleMania without going through that training? I bet you he could,” he said. “But I don’t think anybody would have paid to see the main event of WrestleMania of a fantasy match-up — of a dream match — between the Tribal Chief Roman Reigns and the Rock himself, I don’t think anybody would want to pay to see a 15-minute match."

Truthfully, we have to question Heyman’s logic here, as the masterful storytelling build to last year’s Roman Reigns/Brock Lesnar WrestleMania main event led to a match that lasted all of 12 minutes. Nevertheless, we don’t think he’s wrong; in the WWE Universe’s eyes, anything less than an absolute banger of a 20-25 minute match between Rock and Reigns at WrestleMania would be a disappointment.

In the end, Paul Heyman chalks everything up to all parties involved simply not wanting to disappoint the fans.

“I think people would pay and expect to see — and rightfully expect to see — a far longer story be told in a most exciting, in an A-plus, plus, plus, plus-level fashion,” he explained. “There was just no way that he would have been able to deliver, and I don’t think that he would ever want to disappoint the WWE Universe.”

Although Heyman’s explanation makes sense on one level, we can argue that the mere absence of the Rock — in spite of his return rumors — caused more disappointment among fans than if Rock and Reigns went “only” 15 minutes at WrestleMania this year. Nevertheless, the Wiseman's candor is always welcomed by the WWE Universe and we always appreciate when Heyman pulls back the curtain on the inner workings of the WWE behemoth.

For now, the professional wrestling news cycle switches gears to focus entirely on the task at hand: WrestleMania, while moving away from the Rock and his potential WWE return.

Until next year, when we’re sure the rumor mill will start spinning again.

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