“He's been the No.1 guy in the company for many years now, and has managed to maintain a genuine, optimistic love for the business,” Johnson said. “Often times, inherently, what the business creates is pessimism over time, and unhappiness. John has been able to stay above that, not get lost in the garbage, and not get lost in the noise. He's very focused, very committed. There's an X-factor about John that moves an audience.”
Rock is among four key stars - including Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker and Triple H - who work a scaled back schedule with main event slots waiting for their returns. The four have combined for five pay-per-view matches since last year's WrestleMania, the kind of work-rate wrestlers on a punishing 200-day-a-year schedule could appreciate more than any five-star match.
Amid gripes Rock takes a headline position that could go to a full-time wrester, Cena said Johnson has earned that spot.
“I wish we had one guy with 10 percent of his vision and his aspiration,” he said. “When he gets a small opportunity, he kicks the damn door down and owns the horse. Often times here, we have superstars that remind me of a hamster on the treadmill, and those are the guys that usually complain. I don’t take too kindly to them. I'm fortunate Rock's here, and I'm glad he's here. He can show up whenever he wants.”
Johnson said he hasn’t decided if he will participate in WrestleMania 30 next year in New Orleans. With a loss Sunday, the anniversary card could set up an epic rubber match. Then again, WWE would be foolish to leave a Rock-Brock Lesnar bout on the table without a payoff at a major pay-per-view event.
If Rock returns, he will need to set up that ring for training camps in Budapest, where he'll head after WrestleMania to start shooting "Hercules."
Not a wrestling fan? Hate action movies? Well, you've probably seen Johnson pop up the last six months everywhere from a starring role in a Super Bowl milk commercial or on TV hosting his new reality show or maybe on your mobile device with the game "Rockpocalypse."
The Rock sure does know his role - to entertain in every available forum.
“I never feel that it's too much because I'm aware of the plan. I put the plan together,” he said laughing, “but in that, comes really incredible challenges that require a lot of people to embrace the vision of it, to support it.
“It was one of those things where you take a risk and, fortunately, it's paid off.”
He has the WWE title belt around his waist and a No. 1 movie to prove it.
• WWE WrestleMania 29 is 7 p.m. EST Sunday, April 7 from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The pre-show begins at 6 p.m.