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Former WWE creative team member Seth Mates worked with The Rock in the lead-up to his 2002 match against Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. He knew what Rock was like back then, and he finds it odd that some WWE wrestlers resent Rock coming back.
In a recent PWTorch Livecast interview, he reacted to the sentiment that Rock was stealing someone else's spot, and he sees the resentment stemming from an entirely different reason - jealousy that Rock took the risk of leaving and has found success outside of WWE.
"The resentment towards Rock always struck me as a little bit funny," he told me. "Because the thing about Rock is that people like are jealous of Rock not for stealing the spot but for being one of the guys who got out. You know he made it. He made it in a big way. He made a ton of money. And then he had an exit plan. And now he can come back and work when he wants. And it’s not like Rock is coming back and working with a guy who – he’s coming back to help make John Cena bigger than Cena ever was. He’s coming back to work with a guy who works house shows and who works Raw. You know. He’s coming back and he’s bringing mainstream attention. I can’t speak to the locker room leader this and whatever. I just know that wrestlers like to talk, wrestlers like to stir the pot, wrestlers like to cause trouble. Not a knock on them. Everybody does in every profession. You know every job I’ve ever had people talk you know what about other people in the room. Rock’s not stealing anybody’s spot. Rock is brining a lot of eyeballs.
Mates thinks Triple H's jealousy of Rock's success might, more than anything, be the driving force behind a lot of the negativity.
"I know that a lot of the stuff that Cena has said about Rock and his feelings towards Rock sound like something that would be coming directly from, you know Mr. Helmsley and his view. Because, again, as I said, I always sensed some insecurities as related to Rock and to [Steve] Austin and how, again, in my mind and perception, he never was at that level. And so he wanted to position himself as, well, I’m as good, if not better. Which I don’t know that he has done that."
Rock has held back in the face of a lot of fire power coming his way on Raw via Cena. For instance, Rock has a comeback that could silence Cena and Cena-backers who resent him, which is that had Rock not left, Cena might not have become the big star he has because that spot wouldn't have been left vacant by him.
Then an email from PWTorch reader Jason D was read to Mates [this is a correction from our initial report miscrediting this quote]: "Rock has one massive piece of ammo to use on Cena. Rock could argue that unlike other superstars, he left the business still on top and didn’t feel the need to hang around and take other guy’s spots. Rock could argue that by his leaving when he did it gave the opportunity for someone like Cena to be showcased. If Rock we were really selfish and didn’t respect the business, he would have hung around for more paydays and taken up a lot more main event spots, much like others who we all know. It was almost exactly around the time that Rock left that Cena started to take off. The point right here, that point right there would silence Cena and his backers. Food for thought."
Mates then replied to a comparison between Rock and Trish Stratus. Stratus was welcomed back after leaving wrestling to pursue other interests and she didn't face the same criticism. Not that Rock would bring that up in his defense, but someone else could point that out to others who have resented Rock's return after welcoming Trish back.
"You look everywhere there’s hypocrisy everywhere in the wrestling business," said Mates. "Like, oh, Vince complaining about Ted Turner stealing his stars when how did Vince take over wrestling in the 80s? You know hypocrisy is not something new in wrestling. It’s just, you know you come up with your talking point. You’ve got a billion dollar marketing company behind you to sell people on that talking point. People believe it."
The full transcript of this interview is being published on the PWTorch VIP website in installments over the course of the next several weeks. VIP members can listen to the entire interview in the PWTorch VIP Aftershow Interview section.
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PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. PWTorch.com launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.
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He has interviewed big-name players in person incluiding Vince McMahon (at WWE Headquarters), Dana White (in Las Vegas), Eric Bischoff (at the first Nitro at Mall of America), Brock Lesnar (after his first UFC win).
He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)
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