The Fast & Furious franchise has developed into one of Hollywood’s most unlikely mega-franchises in part because of a winning chemistry between its recurring main cast that nicely compliments the series’ central themes of family and strength in numbers. However, rumors have flown for months that the makeshift “family” has been experiencing dysfunction on the set of the just-wrapped eighth installment.
This all started with a cryptic social media post implying that series regular Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has had a falling out with one or more of his fellow castmates – with franchise star Vin Diesel heavily rumored to be the one The Rock was alluding to. While the rest of the film’s cast has largely remained silent on the matter, a new rumor claims that this “feud” may really be an elaborate promotional stunt that involves Johnson’s past career as a professional wrestler.
The new rumor comes from Life & Style, which quotes an unnamed source close to the production as revealing that the supposed rift between Fast 8’s two biggest stars is actually a “prank” being staged as part of a publicity stunt. The apparent endgame? Diesel and The Rock opting to settle their differences in hand-to-hand combat at Wrestlemania XXXIII – a live WWE pay-per-view professional wrestling event coincidentally scheduled to take place a scant 12 days before Fast 8 is set to open in theaters.
While once a closely-guarded industry secret, most fans today are widely aware that professional wrestling typically features pre-arranged finishes and maneuvers executed to look more painful/damaging than they actually are. Many matches also take place in a state referred to in the industry as “kayfabe,” wherein competitors engage in a pre-determined storyline establishing exaggerated reasons for their fighting and/or mutual dislike, with major matches fleshing out these storylines via in-character publicity stunts called “works.” The implication here, then, is that Diesel and Johnson are not actually feuding, and that the entire controversy has been a work to set up the match to help promote the film.
While officially retired from regular participation in the sport, The Rock earned his initial fame in Vince McMahon’s WWE and makes occasional returns for kayfabe guest appearances at major PPV events. However, if he were indeed to wrestle Diesel it would mark his first in-ring competition in several years. While the wrestler-turned-actor was widely expected to appear at the 33rd Wrestlemania event already, this new rumor is the first implication that he might bring any of the Fast 8 cast with him in any capacity. At this time, neither the actors, Universal Pictures nor WWE have commented on the rumor. Of note: The Rock’s offending posts described his castmates as “candyasses,” which was a catchphrase of his WWE character.
While it’s not a regular feature, actors and/or fictional characters appearing at pro-wrestling events to promote films or TV shows has a long history particularly since the sport became widely televised. Mr. T has appeared at Wrestlemania, as did the late Muhammad Ali as a guest referee. Mickey Rourke stepped into the ring to promote his film The Wrestler, while celebrities like Jerry Springer, Jon Stewart and Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump have participated to varying degrees as well. Actor David Arquette was notoriously awarded a championship title in the now-defunct WCW wrestling organization, and most recently Arrow actor Stephen Amell wrestled multiple guest matches against top WWE
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