The Rock is ready to roll as WrestleMania nears
FILE - In this Feb. 16, 2012 file photo, World Wrestling Entertainment personality Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson speaks at a news conference in East Rutherford, N.J. The Rock is ready to roll into WrestleMania a double champion. He's king of the box office after "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" took in $40.5 million over the weekend to become the No. 1 movie. He stands atop World Wrestling Entertainment as the promotion's champ heading into Sunday's April 7, 2013 WrestleMania. (AP Photo/StarPix, Dave Allocca, File)
The Rock is ready to roll into WrestleMania as a dual champion.
He's the reigning king of the box office after "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" stormed to $40.5 million over the weekend to become the No. 1 movie.
And in the ring, he's walking tall as WWE champ.
Everything Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson touches these days turns to gold, from the film franchises he whips into blockbusters to the diamond-encrusted WWE championship belt he drapes over his shoulder before he hits the ring to lay the smack down one more time in his triumphant return to the company.
Johnson is set for his latest starring role when he defends his title against John Cena at WrestleMania 29 on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The main event rematch is the pinnacle for the sports entertainment powerhouse and one of the most popular spectator sports in America.
"It's the biggest show of my career," the 40-year-old Johnson said.
Johnson has the sequel market cornered, flexing his box office muscle in franchise films as "Fast Five," ''The Mummy Returns," ''Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" and now "G.I. Joe: Retaliation."
He's ready to prove another one of his sequels can top the original when he faces Cena on Sunday.
In his first singles match since 2004, Johnson defeated Cena last year at Sun Life Stadium in Miami in a WrestleMania main event billed as "Once in a Lifetime."
Well, that tagline may as well be "Once a Year."
Hard to believe a professional wrestling company would stretch truth in advertising, but the two became set for a return bout once Rock beat C.M. Punk at January's Royal Rumble to win the championship and Cena won the 30-man Rumble to become the No. 1 contender.
Johnson said the rematch made sense because it was still the biggest money match the promotion could offer in the Super Bowl of sports entertainment.
He had the numbers to back it up. With one full year of hype, Rock-Cena drew 1.217 million pay-per-view buys last year and another 78,363 packed Sun Life Stadium on the strength of the match. Much like the Final Four or World Series, the WrestleMania brand is almost guaranteed to fill a stadium before a match is announced. It's getting fans at home to plunk down at least $59.95 for the standard definition broadcast that can truly stuff the coffers.
"Rock means revenue. Rock means ratings," WWE Hall of Famer Booker T said. "The Rock is great, not just a great performer, but he is a great ambassador for this business."
With shows tailored around The Rock, the last two WrestleManias have topped 1 million buys. The WWE expects to hit that mark again Sunday.
The Rock had a wrestling ring set up wherever he was on location filming movies, his private training camps a part of the grind necessary to keep his spot as the biggest dual threat in entertainment.
"I always knew he loved the business," Cena said. "He loves it so much now that he really is the busiest person in the history of the WWE. He's everywhere at once. He can do everything and still compete as WWE champion."
Rock was in position to call his shots and he picked Cena for his return feud over Punk or any other superstar on the roster. For all the trash talking in the ring, there's a deep respect in real life between two wrestlers who know how to carry the global sports entertainment empire.