In the annals of WWE history, SummerSlam 2002 witnessed an epic passing of the torch as the then-25-year-old Brock Lesnar ascended to WWE superstardom by defeating Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson to claim his first WWE Championship.
The match, held just five months after Lesnar's main roster debut, marked a pivotal moment in wrestling history, with fans fervently backing Lesnar, despite his heel status. It was a clear signal from WWE that Lesnar was now "The Guy" while The Rock gradually transitioned towards conquering Hollywood.
Remarkably, this momentous encounter at SummerSlam 2002 remains their sole high-profile singles bout on television, leaving fans longing for a rematch over the years. WWE's attempt to make this dream a reality was well-documented in 2014 when they aimed to pit The Rock against Lesnar at WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans.
However, circumstances unfolded differently, with The Rock participating in a show-opening promo alongside Steve Austin and Hulk Hogan, while Lesnar etched his name in history by defeating The Undertaker to end his legendary WrestleMania streak.
So, why didn't the highly anticipated Lesnar-Rock rematch materialize? Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Dave Meltzer sheds light on the matter, citing injuries as a major hindrance: "One of the reasons The Rock hasn't engaged in a serious match since his second encounter with John Cena in 2013 is due to injuries he sustained in that bout, which subsequently delayed the production of the film 'Hercules.'
Originally, the plan was for him to continue wrestling, building up to a 2014 clash with Brock Lesnar."
The Rock's Limited WrestleMania Appearances
Meltzer further elaborates that The Rock did make sporadic appearances at WrestleMania after that, notably introducing Ronda Rousey in 2015 and engaging in a brief, nine-second impromptu match with Erick Rowan in 2016.
However, he never returned to full-time wrestling as film studios were wary of potential injuries. The Rock's wrestling endeavors have since been contingent on his movie schedule. As the wrestling world gears up for WrestleMania 40 in Philadelphia, speculation is rife about The Rock's involvement.
He has expressed openness to participating in the event, possibly setting the stage for a showdown with his "cousin," Roman Reigns, unless WWE has different plans in store. Wrestling fans worldwide eagerly await the unfolding of this potential rematch that has been nearly two decades in the making.
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