Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson began training to become a wrestler in 1995. 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 Anoa’i) and cousins, such as Manu, Yokozuna, Rikishi, Rosey, and Umaga. When he declared his intention to join the family business, his father resisted, but agreed to train his son himself, warning him that he would not go easy on him.
With help from veteran wrestler Pat Patterson, Johnson had several tryout matches with the WWF in 1996; he defeated The Brooklyn Brawler at a house show under his real name, Dwayne Johnson, and lost the others to Chris Candido and Owen Hart. Impressed by his talent and charisma, Johnson was signed to a contract after wrestling at Jerry Lawler’s United States Wrestling Association, where he wrestled under the ring name “Flex Kavana”. While there, he won the USWA World Tag Team Championship twice with Bart Sawyer in the summer of 1996.
Early WWF run (1996–1997)
Johnson made his WWF debut as Rocky Maivia, which combined his father and grandfather’s ring names; Johnson was initially reluctant to the idea, but was persuaded to go ahead with the name by Vince McMahon and Jim Ross. In addition to taking on the nickname “The Blue Chipper,” the WWF played up his connection to his father and grandfather, calling him the company’s first third-generation wrestler.
Johnson, who was first portrayed as a clean-cut face character, was pushed heavily from the start despite his lack of in-ring experience. He debuted at Survivor Series in November 1996 and was the sole survivor, and he won the WWF Intercontinental Championship from Hunter Hearst Helmsley on Raw on February 13, 1997, after only three months in the company. He scored a notable victory, albeit by disqualification, over Bret Hart in a title defence on the March 31 episode of Raw. Fans, however, quickly grew sick of the one-dimensional good guy character, thanks in part to the increasing popularity of Stone Cold Steve Austin. As a result, a regular occurrence during Johnson’s matches was the fans’ angry chants of “Die Rocky Die!” and “Rocky Sucks!”
Nation of Domination (1997–1998)
After losing the Intercontinental Championship to Owen Hart on the April 28, 1997 episode of Raw is War, and returning from an injury, The Rock turned into a heel character. He joined the Nation of Domination with Faarooq (later member of the APA), D’Lo Brown, and Kama. During that time, Johnson refused to acknowledge his actual name, instead referring to himself as “The Rock” and speaking in third person. He attacked and insulted the fans in his promos. In sharp contrast to the overly positive persona, he was now a charismatic bully, eventually driving out the group leader, Faarooq in March 1998. He also mocked WWF television announcers- with particularly cutting comments for former announcer Kevin Kelly (referred to as an “ugly hermaphrodite”).
Johnson was soon recognized for cutting arguably the best promos in the industry. In his 2000 autobiography, Johnson attributed this skill to his exceptional performance in speech communications classes at Miami, in which he earned “A” grades. At In Your House: D-Generation X, Austin defeated The Rock in less than six minutes to retain the Intercontinental Championship. The following night on Raw is War, Austin was ordered by Mr. McMahon to defend the Intercontinental Championship in a rematch, but Austin decided to forfeit it instead, and handed the championship over to The Rock before performing the Stone Cold Stunner on him. Rock spent the end of 1997 and the beginning of 1998 feuding with both Austin and Ken Shamrock.
The Rock then feuded with Faarooq, who was angry at The Rock for usurping his position. The two had a title match at Over the Edge, where Rock retained the Intercontinental Championship. The Rock then moved into a feud with Triple H and D-Generation X. Nation members fought DX while The Rock fought Triple H over the Intercontinental Championship. They first had a two out of three falls match at Fully Loaded for Rock’s title, where the Rock retained the title in controversial fashion. This led to a ladder match at SummerSlam where Rock lost the belt. At Breakdown, the Rock defeated Ken Shamrock and Mankind in a triple threat steel cage match to become the number one contender to the WWF Championship before feuding with fellow Nation member Mark Henry, effectively disbanding the Nation.
The Corporation (1998–1999)
Johnson’s popularity as The Rock propelled him to the WWF Championship. The Rock began to conduct many entertaining interviews, and thus he got over with the fans. Fan reaction effectively turned him into a face character, and he began to feud with Mr. McMahon, who said he has a “problem with the people” and thus he should target the “People’s Champion” (as The Rock claimed himself to be). A double turn occurred at Survivor Series, when The Rock defeated the then-villain Mankind in the finals of the “Deadly Game” tournament for the vacant WWF Championship. At the end of the match, The Rock applied a Sharpshooter on Mankind. As he did this, McMahon called for the bell to be rung and then ordered for The Rock to be declared the winner. This was a parody of the Montreal Screwjob, which happened one year earlier at Survivor Series to Bret “The Hitman” Hart.
With the plan coming to fruition, The Rock turned into a villain again and sided with Vince and Shane McMahon as the crown jewel of The Corporation stable. The double turn occurred as Mankind became a fan favourite. Later, The Rock had his own pay-per view, Rock Bottom: In Your House, where he had a rematch against Mankind for the WWF Championship. Mankind won the match by knocking the Rock out with Mr. Socko and the mandible claw, but Mr. McMahon said that The Rock did not tap out and therefore The Rock would retain his title. The Rock began a feud with Mankind over the WWF Championship, during which the title changed hands back and forth between the two, first during the main event of the January 4, 1999 episode of Raw is War, when Mankind defeated The Rock with the help of Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Rock captured his second WWF Championship in an “I Quit” match at Royal Rumble on January 24, 1999, when a pre-recorded sample of Mankind saying “I quit” from an interview segment was played over the sound system. This second reign did not last long, however. In a match that counter-programmed the Super Bowl halftime show on January 31, 1999, Mankind pinned The Rock using a forklift truck in an Empty Arena Match where the competitors used everything from bags of popcorn to garbage to punish each other. This feud continued until the February 15 episode of Raw is War, when The Rock won his third WWF Championship in a ladder match after newly debuted The Big Show chokeslammed Mankind off a ladder.
With Mankind out of the way, The Rock had to defend his WWF Championship at WrestleMania XV, but lost the belt to Austin. The Rock lost the title rematch to Austin at Backlash: In Your House. Despite him being a villain, WWF fans had begun to cheer The Rock due to his comedic interviews, promos, and segments, which mocked wrestlers and announcers. The Rock transitioned into a face character again after being betrayed by Shane McMahon, and established a feud with Triple H, The Undertaker, and the Corporate Ministry. During this feud, he sometimes found himself fighting alongside Steve Austin. The Rock defeated Triple H at Over the Edge, and then lost to WWF Champion The Undertaker at King of the Ring. During mid-1999 he continued his rivalry with Triple H, losing to him in a number one contender’s match at Fully Loaded following interference from Mr. Ass. Due to this, as well as feuding with Triple H, The Rock commenced a feud with Mr. Ass, including defeating him in a “Kiss My Ass” match at SummerSlam.
The Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection (1999)
Towards the latter part of 1999 The Rock found himself in several singles and tag team championship opportunities. He teamed with former enemy Mankind to create the Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection, after The Rock challenged the team of The Undertaker and The Big Show, which led to Mankind offering his help. The Rock accepted, and they went on to win the WWF Tag Team Championship three times. Aside from the championships, the team was regarded as one of the most entertaining teams in history, as Mankind imitated The Rock, who ignored Mankind, with both wrestlers having support from the crowd. The team was also involved in a segment which occurred on Raw is War called “This Is Your Life”, in which Mankind brought out people from The Rock’s past, such as his high school girlfriend and his high school football coach. The segment earned an 8.4 Nielsen rating and is, to this day, one of the single highest rated segments in terms of viewership in Raw history.
Feuds for the WWF Championship (2000–2001)
At Royal Rumble in early 2000, The Rock entered in the Royal Rumble match and lasted until he and The Big Show were the final two men. In the final moment of the match, The Big Show was seemingly going to throw The Rock over the top rope in a running powerslam-like position, but when they got to the apron The Rock reversed the blow, sending The Big Show to the outside floor and then came back up. The Rock’s feet, however, hit the floor first, although those watching the event did not see that. The Big Show attempted to prove that The Rock’s feet, not his, touched the ground first. He provided video footage showing that he was the rightful winner. Despite that, the decision that The Rock had won the Rumble match could not be reversed, so a number one contender’s match for the WWF Championship at No Way Out was held, 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 a People’s Elbow.
The Rock later defeated The Big Show on March 13, 2000 episode of Raw is War to regain the right to face the WWF Champion, Triple H, at WrestleMania 2000 in a Fatal Four-Way Elimination match where The Big Show and Mick Foley competed, as well. Each competitor had a McMahon in their corner; for Triple H, his on-screen wife and then off-screen girlfriend Stephanie McMahon; for Mick Foley, the matriarch Linda McMahon; for The Rock, Vince McMahon; and in Big Show’s corner, Shane McMahon. Triple H retained the title when Vince betrayed The Rock, hitting him with a chair, allowing Triple H to pin The Rock for the three-count.
Over the next couple of months The Rock feuded with Triple H over the WWF Championship. A month after the match at WrestleMania 2000, The Rock had a rematch with Triple H at Backlash in which The Rock won his fourth WWF Championship, after Stone Cold Steve Austin made a brief return and intervened on The Rock’s behalf. Later, at Judgment Day, the two had an Iron Man match with Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee, that saw The Undertaker return. The Rock got disqualified and lost the title, as a result of The Undertaker attacking Triple H.
The following night on Raw is War, The Rock got his revenge, taking out the entire McMahon-Helmsley Faction with the help of The Undertaker. He later won his fifth WWF Championship at King of the Ring in a tag team match, which saw him team up with Kane and The Undertaker to fight Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon and Triple H. He then successfully defended the championship against superstars such as Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, Triple H, Kane, The Undertaker, and Shane McMahon.
The Rock later lost the WWF Championship to Kurt Angle at No Mercy in October. Following this, he feuded with Rikishi and defeated him at Survivor Series. He also participated in a six-man Hell in a Cell match at Armageddon for the WWF Championship, in which Kurt Angle retained the title. Around that same time, Rock held the WWF Tag Team Championship with The Undertaker and the duo exchanged the titles with Edge and Christian.
In 2001, The Rock continued his feud with Angle over the WWF Championship, which they eventually settled at No Way Out. After a battle that saw both wrestlers kick out of each other’s finishers, The Rock finally came out on top and won the WWF Championship for the sixth time. Afterwards, he feuded with the Royal Rumble winner, Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Rock went into WrestleMania X-Seven as the WWF Champion, but he was defeated after Austin used Mr. McMahon to win the title. During a Steel Cage match with Austin in a rematch for the WWF Championship on the following night’s Raw is War, Triple H came down to the ring with a sledgehammer. Many thought he was coming to aid The Rock, due to the hatred between Austin and Triple H (and an argument with Vince earlier in the night), but it transpired that he had joined the Austin/McMahon partnership by hitting The Rock instead. The Rock was then “indefinitely suspended” from the WWF, although in reality he was actually given time off to film “The Mummy Returns”.
The Invasion (2001)
He returned in late July 2001 and had to decide if he wanted to join the WWF or The Alliance (a combination of WCW and ECW) during The Invasion, eventually siding with the WWF. At SummerSlam, The Rock defeated Booker T to win the WCW Championship. He lost the WCW Championship to Chris Jericho, with whom he won the WWF Tag Team Championship around the same time, at No Mercy.
The Rock defeated Jericho on November 5 episode of Raw for his second WCW Championship. Continuing with the WWF’s battle against The Alliance, The Rock was involved in a “Winner Takes All” match at Survivor Series, which saw him end up one on one with Steve Austin who had joined The Alliance. The Rock seemed to be superior to Austin, until Chris Jericho, who was also a member of team WWF and was eliminated a few minutes before that point, came inside the ring and attacked The Rock. Austin took advantage of that and tried to defeat The Rock, but Kurt Angle, a supposed Alliance teammate of Austin, proved to be a mole planted by Vince McMahon and hit Austin in the head with a title belt. This allowed The Rock to eliminate him, and destroyed The Alliance once and for all.
Undisputed WWE Champion, final storylines (2001–2003)
The Rock finished the year losing the WCW Championship to Chris Jericho at Vengeance, when Jericho won both the WCW and WWF titles to become the first Undisputed WWF Champion.
In early 2002, Rock feuded with Jericho and challenged him for the Undisputed Championship at Royal Rumble, but lost the match. After losing to Jericho, Rock defeated The Undertaker at No Way Out, before issuing a challenge to the newly returned Hollywood Hulk Hogan on Raw for a match at WrestleMania X8. He then engaged in a feud with Hogan and the re-formed New World Order (nWo); Rock defeated Hogan at WrestleMania in an “Icon vs Icon” match, but fan reaction resulted in Hogan again becoming a fan favourite, with the two befriending each other after the match and occasionally teaming against the nWo.
On July 21, The Rock won his record-breaking seventh and final WWE Championship, which was known as the Undisputed WWE Championship at the time. He defeated Kurt Angle and The Undertaker in a match at Vengeance, after he hit the Rock Bottom on Angle. The Rock successfully defended the title at Global Warning against Triple H and Brock Lesnar by pinning Triple H, who then saved The Rock after Lesnar tried to ambush him after the match. Johnson finally dropped the Undisputed WWE Championship to Lesnar at SummerSlam, ending his final championship reign, and making Lesnar the youngest WWE Champion in history, a record previously held by The Rock. The Rock then went on an extended hiatus from WWE.
The Rock began his last villainous turn on SmackDown!, publicly criticizing Hulk Hogan and taking the persona of a smug sell-out who made it clear the WWE (and its fans) was no longer a priority. Their WrestleMania X8 rematch at No Way Out ended with The Rock claiming victory again, with assistance from Vince McMahon and the referee, Sylvain Grenier. The Rock later drafted himself to the Raw brand and started a feud with The Hurricane and other fan favourites. 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” that took place during the main event of the March 24, 2003 episode of Raw, where The Rock mocked the host city, Sacramento, California, because of the Sacramento Kings’ inability to beat the Los Angeles Lakers.
When Stone Cold Steve Austin returned, they again feuded, and The Rock defeated Austin at WrestleMania XIX, which was Austin’s last major appearance in a wrestling role. The Rock then had a feud with Bill Goldberg, to whom Rock lost at Backlash. The Rock then turned into a fan favourite once more by engaging in a one night feud against Chris Jericho and Christian. During his previous villainous turn, he had declared Christian as his favourite wrestler, leading Christian to begin calling himself the “new people’s champion” and referring to his fans as “his peeps.”
Part–time appearances (2004–2009)
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 episode 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.
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 spinebuster 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 the debut of Sarona Snuka (daughter of long-time friend and mentor Jimmy Snuka, later known as “Tamina”) in professional wrestling. On October 2, 2009, on the 10th anniversary of SmackDown, The Rock made a special appearance in a pre-recorded video.
Return to WWE (2011–present)
On the February 14, 2011 episode of Raw, The Rock was revealed as the Host of WrestleMania XXVII, appearing live on Raw for the first time in almost seven years. During a lengthy promo that ran 20 minutes over the usual Raw end time, The Rock addressed the fans, Michael Cole, The Miz, and John Cena, calling him a “big fat bowl of Fruity Pebbles”, as a response of a shoot interview Cena did on The Rock a couple of years ago.
After numerous appearances via satellite, The Rock made a live appearance on Raw to confront Cena, whom he had been feuding with through social networking. At the beginning of The Rock’s live promo, he again made fun of Cena’s accessories, calling him a “homeless power ranger” and “Vanilla Ice”. After an exchange of words with Cena, The Miz and Alex Riley appeared and attacked The Rock. The Rock fended off Miz and Riley, but Cena then blindsided The Rock with the Attitude Adjustment on The Rock in retaliation to their feud.
At WrestleMania XXVII on April 3, The Rock opened the show by cutting a promo. After numerous backstage segments that aired on camera, The Rock appeared during the main event between Cena and The Miz to restart the match that ended in a draw, making it a No Disqualifications match. However, in response to the Attitude Adjustment that Cena performed on The Rock on Raw, The Rock hit Cena with his finisher, the Rock Bottom, this allowed The Miz to pin and retain his title. However, Rock then nailed The Miz with The People’s Elbow right after The Miz retained his title.
The next night on Raw, The Rock and Cena had a confrontation, after Cena called out The Rock and challenged him to a match which he accepted for WrestleMania XXVIII on April 1, 2012 a little under a year away. The two of them then came together to fend off an attack by The Corre (which at that time consisted of Wade Barrett, Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel and Ezekiel Jackson). The Rock made an appearance live on Raw in his hometown of Miami on May 2, 2011 to celebrate his 39th birthday. On the same night John Cena stated that he would keep the WWE Championship until WrestleMania XXVIII so that their match would be for the WWE Championship.
On September 16, 2011, WWE.com reported that The Rock was then confirmed to take part in a tag team match alongside his WrestleMania 28 opponent John Cena at the 25th anniversary of Survivor Series on November 20. On the October 24 episode of Raw, John Cena chose The Rock as his tag team partner in a match against Awesome Truth, an alliance formed by Miz and R Truth. The following week on the October 31 episode of Raw, The Rock, appearing via video announced he would accept John Cena’s offer at Survivor Series albeit the hyped tension between them.
On the November 14 episode of Raw before Survivor Series The Rock presented himself for a three-hour episode named “RAW Gets Rocked”. Mick Foley returned as well to present Cena his very own This is your life segment that included the returning cameo of Cena’s old tag team partner Bull Buchanan as well as an appearance by Cena’s father. Trying to amend the hostility between The Rock and Cena, Foley kept on insisting for both men to become friends, only to have The Rock come out and give a Rock Bottom to Foley, thus abruptly ending the segment. Later that night, Miz and R-Truth called out The Rock and Cena, only to receive a beat down and a Rock Bottom each, closing the episode before Survivor Series. Despite the hatred between Rock and Cena both men managed to win their tag team match at Survivor Series against The Miz and R-Truth with Rock winning the match by giving The Miz his finishing move The People’s Elbow and pinning him to pick up the victory. Following the match, The Rock gave John Cena a Rock Bottom. After Survivor Series went off the air, The Rock delivered a promo thanking all his fans and ending it with his signature catchphrase “If ya’ smell what The Rock is cookin’”.
- WWE Champion (7 times)
- World Heavyweight Champion (2 times)
- WWE Intercontinental Champion (2 times)
- WWE Tag Team Champion (5 times)
Dwayne Douglas Johnson was born May 2, 1972 in Hayward, Californa.
Johnson was a college football player. In 1991, he was part of the University of Miami’s national championship team. He later played for the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League, and was cut two months into the 1995 season. This led to his decision to become a professional wrestler like his grandfather, Peter Maivia, and his father, Rocky Johnson.
Johnson married Dany Garcia on May 3, 1997, the day after his 25th birthday. Johnson and his wife have a daughter, Simone Alexandra, born August 14, 2001. On June 1, 2007, Johnson and Garcia announced that they would be splitting up after 10 years of marriage. They indicated that their parting was amicable and that they would spend the rest of their lives together as best friends.
In 2006, Johnson began “The Dwayne Johnson Rock Foundation”, which is known for its charitable work with at-risk and terminally ill children. On October 2, 2007, Johnson and his ex-wife donated an additional $1 million to the University of Miami to support the renovation of its football facilities; it was noted as the largest donation ever given to the university’s athletics department by former students. The University of Miami renamed the Hurricanes’ locker room in Johnson’s honour.
Johnson is perhaps better known for his work outside of wrestling these days, having had the lead role in several blockbuster movies.
Whilst still predominantly working for the WWF, Johnson made appearances on Saturday Night Live, Star Trek: Voyager and featured on Wyclef Jean’s single “It Doesn’t Matter”. His first film role was in The Mummy Returns, staring as the Scorpion King. The film was such a financial success that it spawned the spin-off film The Scorpion King, where Johnson reprised his role, this time as the lead character.
Although he had been appearing less frequently in the WWE since 2001, he didn’t officially leave until 2004. After he left, Johnson decided to concentrate on his acting career and whilst that is still his main focus, he still makes the odd live appearance on WWE television and will be wrestling John Cena at WrestleMania XXVIII. However, he is unlikely to return to the WWE on a fulltime basis.
- Was the first ever 7 time WWE Champion.
- Is good friends with actor and former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
- Johnson’ s autobiography co-written with Joe Layden, The Rock Says…, was released in 2000, debuting at number one on The New York Times Best Seller list, and remaining on the list for several weeks.
- He owns the rights to name “The Rock” (including logos, phrases, etc). The rights to the name “The Rock” were previously owned by WWE, Inc. (which is the main reason why Vince McMahon has received executive producer credits in some of the Rock’s films).
- During a visit to Samoa in July 2004, he was anointed by Head of State Susuga Malietoa Tanumafili II with the chiefly title of ‘Seiuli, Son of Malietoa’.
- Johnson is a skilled light tackle salt water fisherman.
- His $5.5-million paycheque for The Scorpion King earned him a listing in the Guinness Book of World Records, as his salary was the highest for any actor receiving top billing for the first time.
- Was listed as a potential nominee on both the 2003 and 2005 Razzie Award nominating ballots. He was suggested in the Worst Actor category on the 2003 ballot for his role in the film, The Scorpion King (2002). And he was suggested again, two years later, in the Worst Actor category of the 2005 Razzie nominating ballot for his performance in the film, Walking Tall (2004). He failed to receive either nomination. The following year, though, he finally got a Worst Actor Razzie Nomination for his role in the film, Doom (2005).
- MAW.net Tag: The Rock – All posts on this website tagged with “The Rock”.
- The Rock’s WWE Profile – The Rock’s official profile on WWE.com.
- The Rock on Twitter – The Rock’s verified Twitter account.
- Dwayne Johnson on Facebook – The official Facebook Fan Page for The Rock.
- Dwayne Johnson on IMDB.com – The Rock’s profile on the Internet Movie Database.