Despite never being advertised for the show, The Rock was one of the biggest talking points coming out of WWE Survivor Series 2021 last weekend, as the promotion made the absent legend the star of the show to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his debut with the company.
In an update on the matter, Andrew Zarian writes for Figure Four Online/The Wrestling Observer that Dwayne Johnson was originally supposed to be at the pay-per-view, but plans changed in September.
Zarian was informed in July that Survivor Series would feature heavy promotion for Rocky's then-upcoming Netflix movie, Red Notice. That the event was also Rock's 25th anniversary and would follow NBC renewing Young Rock and the Ruthless Aggression docuseries' second season airing meant the timing aligned well, with WWE also hoping that Johnson would appear on the following night's Raw too.
This changed in September. Rock's filming schedule (and the quarantining restrictions imposed by travel) meant he could no longer appear at Survivor Series. WWE still had a financial obligation for the Red Notice promotion, however, and this is why they continued - even without Dwayne.
WWE resolved the curious case of Vince McMahon's stolen Cleopatra egg (a prop from Red Notice) on Raw, when Austin Theory was revealed as its Survivor Series thief.