Dwayne Johnson “The Rock” WWE career
Along with his father and grandfather, several members of Johnson’s family are current and former professional wrestlers, including his uncles, the Wild Samoans (Afa and Sika Anoai), and cousins such as the late former WWF Champion Yokozuna and former WWF Tag Team Champion Rikishi. When he declared his intention to join the family business to his father, the elder Johnson resisted, but agreed to train his son himself, warning him that he would not go easy on him.
With help from former WWE executive and veteran wrestler Pat Patterson, Johnson secured a tryout with the WWF. Impressed by his talent and charisma, he was signed to a WWF deal after a short stint for “seasoning” in Jerry Lawler’s USWA, where he wrestled under the stage names of Flex Kavana and Pidlaoan Rock.
Johnson first wrestled in the WWF as Rocky Maivia, a combination of his father and grandfather’s ring names. The WWF played up his connection to his father and grandfather, calling him the first third-generation superstar to wrestle for the company. Johnson was first portrayed as a clean-cut babyface, and gained early success, winning the prestigious Intercontinental Championship after only three months.
He was the first Intercontinental champion of Samoan descent. However, wrestling had changed since Hulk Hogan’s heyday in the mid 80s, and fans quickly grew sick of the two-dimensional good guy character. Despite often being loudly booed, Johnson was forced to go to the ring and smile, as if the crowd was cheering (like they were “supposed to”).
Eventually, Johnson was allowed to turn heel and joined the Nation of Domination (wrestling’s version of the Black Panthers), spewing venom at the fans for turning on him, influenced by Johnson’s real-life feelings toward the WWF audience. In the Nation, Rocky Maivia became The Rock, a cocky and charismatic bully who even drove out the Nation’s leader Faarooq.
Now allowed to be more or less himself (Johnson has often said in interviews that The Rock is merely Dwayne Johnson with “the volume turned way up”), The Rock became wildly popular, establishing several much-quoted catchphrases including “Do you smell what The Rock is cookin’?”, “Layeth the Smacketh down,” “It Doesn’t Matter What Your Name Is!”, and “Know your role and shut your mouth!” Johnson’s popularity as The Rock propelled him to the WWF Championship at the 1998 Survivor Series at age 26.
At the time, he was the youngest WWF Champion in history, siding with then-heels Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon as the crown jewel of their “Corporation” stable. The Rock would begin to feud with Mankind over the WWF Championship in which the title would change back and forth between the two, first during the main event of the January 4, 1999 episode of RAW, when Mankind pinned The Rock with the help of Stone Cold Steve Austin.
The Rock would once again capture the WWF Title in a bloody “I Quit” match at the 1999 Royal Rumble that saw The Rock hit Mankind in the head with a chair over 15 times. This latest reign didn’t last long however, because during that year’s Superbowl halftime show, on January 31, 1999, Mankind pinned The Rock using a forklift in a empty arena match which saw the competitors use everything from bags of popcorn to fruit to punish each other.
This feud lasted until the Februaury 15th, 1999 edition of RAW, where The Rock regained the WWF Title in a latter match after The Big Show Chokeslammed Mankind off a ladder. The Rock then focused on Stone Cold Steve Austin, his opponent at Wrestlemania XV.
The Rock would lose the WWF Title to Austin at that event, and continued his feud with Austin until May 1999. WWF fans began to cheer The Rock dispite being a bad guy, due to his hilarious interviews and segments which mocked wrestlers and announcers. Johnson eventually turned face again after the Corporation betrayed him and established a feud with The Undertaker and the Corporate Ministry.
The Rock, now a face, feuded with “Badd Ass” Billy Gunn over the summer of 1999. In the fall the Rock found himself in several WWE Championship opportunities, both in singles and tag. He teamed with now former enemy Mankind to create the “Rock N Sock Connection” and won the WWF Tag Team Titles. Aside from the championships, the team was one of the most entertaining teams in recent memory, where Mankind would imitate The Rock, while The Rock would mostly ignore Mankind.
The team was also invoved in a segment which occurred on RAW called “this is your life,” which to this day is the single highest rated segment in terms of viewrship in RAW history. As a singles competitor, The Rock participated in a six-pack challenge match at WWE Unforgiven 1999.
In January of 2000, the Rock entered in the WWE’s annnual Royal Rumble match and lasted until he and the Big Show were the final two men. In a controversial yet scripted move, the Big Show was going to seemingly dump the Rock over the top rope in a running powerslam-like position, and when they got to the apron, the Rock reversed it on the Show, sending the Show to the outside floor and the Rock’s two feet hitting the floor and then coming back up with the rest of his body.
Clearly there was controversy, and in the weeks that followed, the Big Show attempted to prove to the audience and to others, like Triple H, that the Rock’s feet, not his, touched the mat first. This led to a number one contendership match at No Way Out 2000, which saw the Big Show come out on top after Shane McMahon interfered, knocking the Rock in the head with a steel chair as he attempted to finish off his opponent with the People’s Elbow.
The Rock, the Big Show, Mick Foley and Triple H competed in a fatal four-way elimination match for the WWE Championship at WWE Wrestlemania 2000. Each competitor had a McMahon in their corner–for Triple H, his on-screen wife (in actual fact was Triple H’s real girlfriend before they married in 2003) Stephanie McMahon; for Mick Foley, the matriarch Linda McMahon; for the Rock, Vince McMahon, and lastly but certainly not least, in Big Show’s corner, Shane McMahon. Triple H retained the title when Vince turned on the Rock, giving him two vicious chair shots, allowing Triple H to pin The Rock for the three-count.
Over the next year the Rock feuded with Triple H over the Championship, having several classic matches, such as an Iron Man match against the Game at WWE Judgment Day 2000, which starred Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee and saw the return of The Undertaker. In 2001, The Rock feuded with olympian Kurt Angle over the WWF Championship and Stone Cold Steve Austin for the second time.
The Rock went into Wrestlemania X-7 as the WWF Champion, but was defeated by Austin with the help of Vince McMahon. After losing to Austin in a rematch on the following night’s RAW, he went on hiatus to film scenes for “The Mummy Returns.” The Rock would return in July of 2001 and would decide which side of the WWF/Alliance wars he would allign himself with. He would choose the WWF and began a feud with WCW Champion Booker T. The Rock would beat Booker T.
at Summerslam 2001 to become WCW champ for the 1st time. The Rock would hold the title until December 9th, 2001, where he lost the WCW Title to Chris Jericho at Vengeance 2001—by which time the title had been renamed the “World Championship” due to the WCW’s earlier defeat at Survivor Series basically ending the entire plot of the “Alliance.” As 2002 came along, Vince McMahon introduced the nWo, and The Rock began a feud with Hollywood Hulk Hogan, which ended with a victory at Wrestlemania X-8.
Later in 2002, he would return from a hiatus to capture the Undisputed Title. After he lost the Title to Brock Lesnar, in which fans started to boo The Rock on a regular basis, dispite being a good guy, that would be the last heavyweight-caliber title the Rock has held up to this day.
The Rock’s last heel turn began on Smackdown in February 2003, where he publicly criticized rival wrestler Hulk Hogan. They fought at Wrestlemania X8 and later had a rematch at WWE No Way Out, with The Rock claiming victory both times. It is widely speculated that this turn was due to The Rock’s growing Hollywood stardom, giving the appearance of having “sold out” his wrestling roots.
The Rock later drafted himself to Raw and started a feud with the Hurricane and other babyfaces. He also had a comical gimmick, where he played the guitar and sang songs mocking the host city for the event, which culminated in a “Rock concert” which took place during the main event of the March 24, 2003 edition of RAW, where The Rock mocked host city Sacramento because of the Sacramento Kings inability to beat the Los Angeles Lakers, the city The Rock now thought of as home.
The Rock would also tease Canada in a song also (basically referring to the fact that they booed him at WrestleMania X8, despite being the “good guy”).
When Steve Austin returned, they once again feuded, with the Rock defeating Austin at WrestleMania 19; this was the first time the Rock defeated Austin at Wrestlemania, and Austin’s last appearance in a wrestling role. The Rock then had a feud with former WCW star Bill Goldberg, losing at Backlash.
After that, The Rock turned face once more by betraying Chris Jericho and Christian-specifically when Christian (who was the WWE Intercontinental Champion at the time) labelled himself as the New People’s champion (based around the fact that Christian was labelled by The Rock as his “favourite wrestler”. This would eventually lead to Christian labelling his fans as “his peeps”). The Rock, with the help of Booker T defeated Chris Jericho and Christian, and even did his version of the “spinaroonie”.
Fueled by the star power of The Rock and other stars such as Stone Cold Steve Austin and Mankind, the WWF experienced a massive surge in popularity not seen since Hulk Hogan’s reign in the ’80s. In particular, Johnson’s extremely entertaining interviews and storylines made WWF programming a must-see for wrestling fans.
From 1998 to 2002, The Rock feuded against the WWF’s top stars, winning the WWF/E Championship seven times during his career, and eventually crossed over into mainstream popularity, such as with a guest appearance on R&B singer Wyclef Jean’s track “It Doesn’t Matter” and the accompanying video.
While still wrestling full-time, Johnson made an appearance as host of the popular sketch comedy TV series Saturday Night Live. The episode was very popular, and showcased Johnson’s acting and comedic ability favorably. After this, Johnson started to get offers from Hollywood for a multitude of different projects. He was a guest star on Star Trek: Voyager and That ’70s Show; in the latter, he played the role of his father.
The Rock’s first role in a major film was a limited appearance as The Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns, and his natural charisma translated well to the silver screen. He made occasional wrestling appearances up to 2004′s WrestleMania XX, but has since devoted himself to acting full-time.
At WrestleMania XX the Rock seemingly had his last match for quite some time, if one doesn’t count his numerous antics over the summer with the Diva Search contestants and Eugene. In March of 2004, Mick Foley was facing seemingly overwhelming odds against Ric Flair, Batista, and Randy Orton, the stable collectively known as Evolution.
The Rock returned to aide his old friend and the match was made for WMXX to feature Mick & the Rock against Flair, Batista and Orton. In an above-average match, Evolution emerged victorious after Orton nailed Foley with an RKO and scored the pinfall.
The Rock added numerous tattoos to his body over the course of his wrestling career. An early nickname, “The Brahma Bull”, came from the steer’s head tattoo on his right bicep.
In interviews conducted in 2005, Johnson revealed that his contract with World Wrestling Entertainment expired at the end of 2004. He also stated that he is able to continue using his stage name The Rock as part of a dual-ownership agreement with WWE.
Pro Wrestling Insider has since reported that Johnson and WWE Chairman Vince McMahon are back on good terms, and he will continue to appear sporadically for the company, as he did after becoming a successful actor.
The Rock made occasional wrestling appearances up to 2004′s WrestleMania XX, when the storyline revolving around Mick Foley had him brought back to help in his feud with Evolution (Ric Flair, Randy Orton, Triple H and Batista). One humorous in-ring segment involved The Rock hosting his own version of “This Is Your Life” for Foley on the March 8, 2004 edition of Raw. Rock reunited with Foley after five years, as the Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection. The duo went on to lose to Orton, Flair and Batista at WrestleMania XX in a handicap match when Orton pinned Foley with an RKO. As of 2010, this was Rock’s last match.
He made sporadic appearances in WWE following WrestleMania, including standing up for Eugene, making a cameo appearance in his hometown of Miami and helping Foley turn back La Résistance. In 2004, he hosted a “Pie-Eating Contest” during the WWE Diva Search and ended the segment by giving Jonathan Coachman a Rock Bottom and a People’s Elbow. After this appearance, Johnson reported in several interviews that he was no longer under contract with WWE. He also reported that the reason he was able to continue using the name “The Rock” was part of a dual ownership between him and WWE.
On March 12, 2007, The Rock made an appearance on WWE after a near three year absence, appearing on Raw via a pre-taped segment on the titantron. He correctly “predicted” that Bobby Lashley would defeat Umaga at WrestleMania 23 in Donald Trump and Vince McMahon’s “Battle of the Billionaires” match.
On March 29, 2008, The Rock inducted his father, Rocky Johnson, and his grandfather, Peter Maivia into the WWE Hall of Fame. During his induction speech he roasted WWE superstars such as John Cena, Santino Marella, Chris Jericho, Mick Foley, Shawn Michaels, and Steve Austin. In September 2009, Johnson appeared at a World Xtreme Wrestling show in order to support longtime friend and mentor Jimmy Snuka’s daughters debut in professional wrestling.
On October 2, 2009, on the 10th anniversary of SmackDown, The Rock made a special appearance in a pre-recorded video where he talked about SmackDown’s anniversary. He also hinted about “guest hosting” Raw in the near future. In an interview with Sports Illustrated to promote his new film, Tooth Fairy, The Rock mentioned that he was supposed to host Raw in January 2010, but had to be in Mexico to promote the movie so he had to cancel. He however announced that he plans to come back sometime in 2010 and guest host Raw. He said he does not just want to come back and guest host but he wants to entertain the fans in a way they haven’t been entertained in years.Related Information: