It appears the status for WWE’s biggest part-timers for Wrestlemania 38 have been set in stone.
According to the Wrestling Observer, The Rock will not be appearing at Wrestlemania 38 in Dallas. However, he is considered to be a “lock” to wrestle at Wrestlemania 39 at the SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, according to Ringside News.
The original idea called for The Rock to make his long-awaited return to the WWE for next year’s ‘Mania. This would have been when the eight-time WWE Champion’s likely match against his cousin, current Universal Champion Roman Reigns, would have taken place.
Now the more likely scenario calls for The Rock’s return in 2023, when his new professional football league — Vince McMahon’s previously-owned XFL — makes its debut. It would make for the perfect time to hype up the new league, which closed its doors upon its return in 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the league in the middle of its return season.
As far as Brock Lesnar is concerned, the newly-returned superstar has inked a deal with the WWE for eight-to-twelve matches during the next year-and-a-half. Lesnar is slated to appear at Wrestlemania 38 — which is big for the WWE as it plans without The Rock — and is slated to feud with Reigns after returning at Summerslam in August.
While fans may not like it, the WWE heavily relies upon its part-timers. The Rock was supposed to be the selling point for next year’s Wrestlemania — he hasn’t appeared in a lengthy match since Wrestlemania 29 — and the plans for his return have been shelved due the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of a live audience over the past year.
With the return of Lesnar, the WWE will be able to lean on its recent model of relying on part-timers in marquee matches on the grandest stage of them all.
It was only as recently as Wrestlemania 36 that the WWE had Lesnar match up against Drew McIntyre for the WWE Championship and Goldberg face Braun Strowman for the Universal Championship.
Speaking of part-timers, while Goldberg looks likely to continue his feud with Bobby Lashley for the WWE Title into the fall — when Crown Jewel takes place in October — it’s uncertain if the WWE will ink him to a new deal calling for more matches in 2022.
Likewise, while John Cena’s recent return was well-received — culminating in his loss to Reigns at Summerslam — his burgeoning acting career in both movies and TV shows makes his absence from a match at Wrestlemania 38 a very-likely occurrence.
It takes TV time and multiple appearances in order to build up a feud for Wrestlemania. In fact, it took a month of Cena being a member of the WWE’s live touring schedule again to get him prepared for his match against Reigns at Summerslam.
Which is a likely reason why Cena hasn’t appeared in a live match at Wrestlemania since 2018.
This makes the signing of Lesnar and his upcoming feud with Reigns even more important as the WWE heads into its most important season of the year.
There’s a lot to be hashed out as the company’s biggest pay-per-view is seven months away, but it looks set it stone that Lesnar will be in the main event of Wrestlemania — while fans will have to wait one more year for “The Great One.”
WWE’s part-time model isn’t dying any time soon.