The big story coming out of Survivor Series last night is WWE's, frankly, awkward use of The Rock throughout the show. Of course, Rock himself was not present at the event in Brooklyn, but his image was all over it and it seemed like the entire event was in his honor (a 25-man Battle Royal at the event was indeed in his honor). But why would WWE put so much effort into promoting The Rock and even his film, Red Notice, on rival streaming service Netflix if he was never going to be live at the event himself? We are learning more about that now and it appears that it was a complicated situation.
Andrew Zarian of f4wonline.com is reporting that at one point earlier this year, it was indeed in the plans for Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson to appear at Survivor Series in person and this would serve to promote Red Notice (Netflix paid WWE and Peacock for the advertising) and NBCUniversal's (owner of Peacock) upcoming new season of Young Rock.
The appearance was canceled in late September due to The Rock's filming schedule overseas, which requires him to quarantine. The plans for Survivor Series were well-underway though and seeing as Netflix had already paid for the advertising, WWE went ahead with the Rock-heavy theme of the show, despite the notable absence of the man himself.
So, there you go folks. Obviously, this doesn't make fans feel any better, especially those who paid for tickets to the event last night in anticipation of seeing The Rock live in person. WWE are the ones left looking silly in all of this and honestly, they should have just returned Netflix's money instead of insinuating (pretty damn heavily) something they were not capable of producing.
All of this reminds me of a similar situation with the WWF Fully Loaded pay per view event in July of 2000, where all of the promotion materials solely featured "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, who of course was out of action following serious spinal surgery that year. The pay-per-view event was also being held in Austin's home state of Texas, further whipping fans into a frenzy that "the rattlesnake" was making his much-awaited return that night. Ultimately though, there was no appearance from Austin that night (he wouldn't return until that September's Unforgiven pay-per-view) and fans in attendance were obviously left disappointed and could be heard chanting Austin's name throughout the show.
While the circumstances are very different between the lack of Austin then and the lack of The Rock last night, certainly both are cases where WWE knew they were sort of promising fans an appearance that they had no way of bringing to fruition. You'd think after making the same mistake 22 years ago that WWE wouldn't do the same thing again, but then WWE doesn't seem too anxious to learn from past mistakes as of late.