The SmarK Rant for Ruthless Aggression – Season 2, Episode 1 “Hollywood Rock”

The SmarK Rant for WWE Ruthless Aggression – Season 2, Episode 1

“Hollywood Rock”

And we’re back with another season of Ruthless Aggression, although at times it was more like TRUTHLESS Aggression, AM I RIGHT?  Nah, I’m kidding, it was pretty straight most of the way.  I mostly enjoyed the first season and then they promised it would return in the fall of 2020 and then that was the last we heard of it for a YEAR.  And the episodes promised are nowhere to be seen here.  There was supposed to be something on the Diva Search, for example.

But anyway, here it is again, of course focusing on the special guest at Survivor Series 2021.

Hosted by Pat McAfee

Brian Gewirtz talks about how Rock was the #1 babyface in the early 2000s and we get various talking heads putting him over.  But then Bruce Prichard points out that Rock was outgrowing his position in the company and he suddenly became a giant movie and TV star.  Bruce talks about how it’s a risk that someone might actually gain fame and enjoy being away from the company.  GOD FORBID.

So we pick things up in February 2002 with Hollywood Hogan and the nWo invading WWE.  We get words from Hulk as he talks about how Rock “had the business down to an artform” and when Vince asked if he’d wrestle Rock, Hulk said “HELL YEAH!”  Yeah after Steve Austin declined the match.

Onto Wrestlemania X-8 and the match that revived Hulkamania for a month as Bruce talks about how they had to listen to their audience because of Hulk’s popularity.  Interestingly, the clips from Rock are from years ago, as he apparently declined to be a part of this documentary.

A month after WM, Scorpion King opens and Rock hosts SNL and he’s becoming a big star in Hollywood.  So Rock comes back to the promotion and regains the WWE title.  Brian Gewirtz notes that Rock is big on “doing the honors”, which in this case was getting sacrificed to Viking Space Lord Brock Lesnar.  And then we get footage of Rock trying to say goodbye after that match and getting booed by the fans, so he turns on them and leaves.

Rock leaves and shoots “The Rundown” for four months (during which time the title changed about 15 times…I always thought “Helldorado” was a great name for the movie) and then Rock does a video promo for the RAW 10th anniversary show, becoming a complete dick about it.  “The Rock isn’t actually in Green Bay right now.  Thank god.”  So this gives us HOLLYWOOD ROCK, who answers his cell phone in the ring to talk to his assistant and builds to a rematch with Hogan.  This gives us the epic Hollywood Rock entrance, which they crafted to make sure no one could possibly cheer him, although the match was the drizzling shits, one of the worst PPV main events in history.  Johnny Gargano declares the remixed theme to be Rock’s best.  Huge if true.  Thankfully they edit the match down to the finish here and move on.

Moving on, Rock won’t let crowds sing along with him, and we get the epic takedown of Toronto.  “That’s where we live!  We live in Toronto!  SHUT UP!”  And then we detour into the whole Hurricane thing, as one promo got over so big that they kept going together.  “Excuse the Rock, his cell phone is ringing.  Oh hey, it’s nothing, he knows you!  DON’T LAUGH AT THE ROCK’S JOKES!”  Oh man I forgot how amazingly awesome this stuff was.  And then Hurricane gets a distraction pin on the Rock with help from Steve Austin, although we of course skip over HHH destroying Hurricane right away because he’s a petty asshole.

Next up, THE ROCK CONCERT.  “The best part of Sacramento is that in about an hour the Rock will be leaving!”  And of course the line about the Lakers beating the Kings in May, which gets such a big heel reaction that Rock actually cracks himself up.  This sets up Wrestlemania 19, one of the most criminally underrated Wrestlemanias, where Rock beat Austin with three Rock Bottoms and sent him into retirement for good.  And just because Rock is awesome, we get footage of him interacting with kids in the front row even when he’s a bad guy on TV.

So with Hogan dispatched and no one left for Rock to beat, Goldberg debuts in WWE.  This sets up Backlash 2003, which was a complete disaster where Rock basically gobbled Goldberg and completely exposed him, pretty much killing him off from jump street.  However, that’s not the narrative here and so Goldberg became a big star based off this and everyone forgot about WCW I’m sure.

Rock returned to Hollywood for good after that, and then came back for Wrestlemania XX and we omit the famous contract story, sadly, and wrap it up with a happy ending.

I mean, this was pleasant enough, but really 45 minutes of talking about how great the Rock is isn’t exactly cutting edge journalism or anything. Honestly they could have put in more of the Hollywood Rock promos to pad out the running time a bit more and it would have been great.  It didn’t feel like there was any particular narrative to the show about what it meant to the “Ruthless Aggression” era or anything, but certainly not the worst use of 45 minutes on the Network.  Like with the Hogan match, they don’t even follow up with what it meant for Hogan and how they tried to build the company around him a second time and failed completely.  I mean, I can see why they wouldn’t go there, but THAT’S a much more interesting narrative than “The Rock is a pretty good bad guy, innit he?”

Next time:  All the wacky stuff they did trying to recreate the Attitude Era, apparently.