In news that will excite the millions (and millions!) of wrestling fans reading this sentence right now, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson announced last night that he will be returning to the WWE after a long absence from the ring. At the moment he’ll only cop to hosting Wrestlemania on April 3, but of course he’s going to wind up in the ring — and count me among those fans who feels a thrilling jolt at the idea of seeing The Rock once again kick some jabroni ass. I used to love wrestling — so much so that I co-wrote EW’s 1999 cover story on the popularity of pro wrestling, and even went to see The Rock destroy Triple H in a ladder match at Madison Square Garden lo these many years ago. And Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a big reason — perhaps the biggest reason — I was a wrestling fan. Say what you want about the concept of “sports entertainment,” but true star power can shine through even the most ridiculous of scenarios, and from the very first time he stepped into the ring in 1996, The Rock was clearly a star.
Telegenic to a fault, confident, and endowed with the gift of hilariously pompous catchphrases and general bombast (“The Rock is going to get in the ring and do what he does best, which is layeth the smacketh down on your candy ass!”), Dwayne Johnson was a fantastic entertainer and amazingly fun to watch — which is why Hollywood snatched him up and attempted to groom him as their next action hero. While my interest in the WWE began to wane around the same time The Rock started shifting his focus towards movies in 2000, his appearance on RAW last night gave me such a nostalgic thrill I just may order Wrestlemania on pay-per-view come April 3… and then hide the cable bill from my husband. What about you, PopWatchers? Are you ready to smell what The Rock is cooking once more?