Your honest thoughts on Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson
The Rock. One of the biggest legends in wrestling's history. Debuted on WWF TV rather young and 6 years later was alrrady a legend of the business and definitively leaving for Hollywood to never come back except for the very rare appearance.
Now, I did not grow up watching The Rock. By the time I got into wrestling he had already left for Hollywood. The first time I saw him on TV was in that segment he had with Eugene and The Coach in 2004, for reference.
The Rock's lineage has definitely left its mark in the business. He comes from a family of pro wrestlers. Samoans seem to have a thing for wrestling. The Rock might only be half-Samoan, but still counts and I'm pretty sure Samoans generally view him as one of them.
OK, so when The Rock debuted he was called Rocky Maivia and looked cheerful. Didn't click with the fans but Vince and WWF quickly realised that and turned him heel and made him join The Nation. He was still Maivia, but no longer the goofy looking guy. He became a solid midcarder here and I guess by then people realised he'd eventually main event one day, but still I don't think anyone saw him becoming what he did.
He had a good midcard feud with Hunter Hearst Helmsley which, I believe, culminated in that Summerslam 1998 ladder match. That match was very important to both men's careers, I'd day. And then Rock turns face for a bit and gets harassed by Shane and Vince... but it was all an act. He wins the WWF title at Survivor Series that year and becomes the Corporate Champion. Now THAT'S when The Rock becomes a main eventer and a big star. Seriously, Corporate Rock was GREAT. He's slow talking, savage put downs on the mic, 600 dollar shirts and shoes, cool shades, Elvis hairdo, etc. and his chemistry with Vince, Shane, Austin, Foley, etc. made him one of the coolest heels ever. This was the MNW/Attitude Era, so heels had to be cool like the nWo.
No point in mentioning the Austin feud, we all know it's great and it has been discussed to death, What else can I say about it? Also, please don't turn this into another Austin vs. Rock thread. Feel free to say who you prefer, but don't get into who was better or a bigger draw, please. Just saying. Anyway, before the Austin feud per se, Rock feuded with Foley and that feud really cemented him as a top star. It's crazy how quick Rock climbed up the ranks. In mid-1998 no way did Rock look like he was on par with Austin in terms of star power. Only Goldberg could rival Austin in the wrestling world at the time. But by January-February 1999 it seems obvious to me that The Rock was on par with Austin. Until then, Austin mostly feuded with Vince, who's nto a wrestler, with veterans like Foley and Taker who were big names but clearly were used to elevate Austin and certainly weren't gonna be future top faces of the company. Austin also feuded with Kane, who didn't end up becoming a huge star anyway. So yeah, he needed someone as big as him and Rock was the perfect man for that.
Corporate Rock and post-Corporation Rock where he was teaming up with Mankind and feuding with Billy Gunn was by far the best work of his career, imo. And also my favourite version of the character. 1999 was probably the year where WWF was at its hottest, if I have to guess, since you had both Rock and Austin there in their prime for the majority of the year, unlike in 2000 where Austin missed most of it. Plus, the Austin vs. McMahon storyline was still going.
In late 1999 Austin gets injured as we all know and it's time for The Rock to fill in the top babyface role of the company which he does very well. In most cases, losing your top babyface always does some damage to business, but this time was the exception. WWE didn't lose a step. They also had The Undertaker out for sometime, remember.
2000 Rock mostly feuded With HHH, Vince, Stephanie and Kurt Angle. he still kept some traits of his 1999 character.
Then he loses the WWF title to Austin at Wm 17 and leaves for a while to film the Scorpion King. Then returns in the middle of the Invasion angle and... he seems a bit different. I dunno what it is but it's like his voice became higher pitched, he began smiling more, he began dressing and acting more like a stereotypical athlete/jock and his jokes have become more typical of those types as well. He also became a bit of a ladies man and they even teased him and Trish as an onscreen couple for a while. 2001-2002 Rock also spoke in a more fast paced manner. He was no longer the serious looking and slow talking deep voice Rock from 1998-2000. It's like he was now an actor who happened to walk into a wrestling arena by mistake.
Since then he turned heel one more time as Hollywood Rock in early 2003, which was cool for while it lasted, but still not as cool as Corporate Rock was.
His return in 2011 was pretty cool at the time and I watched the PPV where he wrestled for the first time since 2004 live. It was cool for a while and his feud with Cena had a lot of hype. I think it should have been over after their first match, though. Rock helped further expose Cena as a lame character and I loved that Rock went over Cena on the first match since I was expecting Cena to win, but it wasn't so logical for Rock to win and have a second match, but hey, it probably did good for WWE's finances so it can't have been a bad decision lol
As for his matches... they're hard to watch, tbh. Rock was never the greatest wrestler in the ring. He oversells moves in a ridiculous fashion and seems like he's always moving in fast forward. And let's face it, The People's Elbow is nearly as ridiculous as The Worm. Ofc an elbow drop to the chest can hurt you badly, but Rock barely touches his opponents when he does it.
Do I like The Rock? Sure, but I can't say he's in my top 5. I view him more as a side-attraction and a promo cutter than as a wrestler. Honestly, the only matches of him I truly enjoy watching are his matches with Austin and Foley. he had a ton of chemistry with both of those guys.
Rock's promos often had cringeworthy material, but he's always had top notch delivery. That's the biggest difference between him and Cena, imo. Cena clearly tries to sound natural, but fails at it and most of the stuff he says sounds cringeworthy and awkward, imo. He sounds like a dork. Rock never fucking sounded like a dork at all. The IWC likes to compare Rock and Cena and saying that the criticisms people make of Cena are very similar to those people used to make about The Rock in 1999-2002, but I'll take The Rock any day over Cena. Plus, Rock actually lost A LOT for a top guy, which is pretty strange. But I guess he was so over that it did not hurt him. Come to think of it, Rock was probably the weakest booked top guy ever in terms of match results. Kinda funny because he mocked all of his opponents. I mean, if you're gonna call a guy a hermaphrodite or a piece of roody poo candy ass, you can't lose to him. If you do, what does that make you? And if you win, what's the big deal? All you did was beat a piece of shit. Sure, we all laughed at Rock's promos, but most guys aren't allowed to bury people on the mic like that.
Anyway, tl;dr so cliffs:
- Corporate Rock was the best Rock.
- 2001-2002 Rock and Dwayne Johnson Rock from 2011 and beyond isn't really my cup of tea.
- Rock's not that great in the ring and oversells things.
- He's not one of my top 5 favourites.
There ya go. I pointed out some flaws, but I think I overall spoke highly of Rock. He's a legend and massive respect for him.
What about you? What do you honestly think of The Rock?