Returning with our series on the greatest WWE wrestlers of all time, at No. 3 we have a man who is quite possibly the most famous and charismatic professional wrestler of all time, the one and only Great One, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
Growing up in the ‘Attitude Era’ of the WWF, I would watch the WWF religiously, just like the millions. The Monday Night Wars put both the WWF and WCW on the mainstream radar and professional wrestling was at the pinnacle of its popularity. Throughout the entire industry there was always one man who stood out among all the mayhem, chaos, numerous Stone Cold stunners, the rebellious DX segments etc. and that was none other our very own ‘People’s Champion’. The Rock’s star shined bright enough for the entire industry to sit up and take notice, yes sometimes even more than his most famous rival, Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Coincidentally, The Rock started his career in the WWF as a fan favourite with a clean-cut good guy image, and was named Rocky Maivia, who prided himself on doing the ‘right thing’, much like a certain ‘Fruity Pebble’ currently in the WWE.
The fans started growing sick of Rocky (much like Cena), and regularly chanted things such as ‘Die, Rocky, die!!’ and ‘Rocky sucks’. The enormous negative reaction received by the company’s first ever third-generation wrestler influenced the man to turn on the fans and align himself in the Nation of Domination, an all-black stable that promoted black supremacy, and was the WWF’s premier heel stable at the time.
As a part of his turn, he renamed himself as ‘The Rock’, a villainous character who possessed an immensely bloated ego, spoke in third person constantly, ripped the fans in his promos, and was the cream of the Nation, and engaged in numerous feuds with the likes of Stone Cold, Owen Hart, Bret Hart, and Triple H (with D-Generation X) over the Intercontinental Championship, a title he won twice.
The Rock’s over-the-top catchphrases, otherworldly promo skills and comical mannerisms raised his popularity to astronomical levels, and the fans started to cheer heavily for him, and it resulted in The Rock turning face, due to the sheer volume of ‘Rocky’ chants ringing throughout the arena.
He would go on to win the WWF Championship and engage in memorable feuds with the likes of Mankind, Vince McMahon, Triple H, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and The Undertaker over the next couple of years. His charisma, passion, unsurpassable mic skills, and natural talent made him one of the most popular wrestlers ever. He had a seemingly endless list of catch phrases; so much that I’ve taken the trouble to attempt to list them down:
- It doesn’t matter what you think/what your name is!
- The Rock is gonna lay the smacketh down on that candy a**!
- The Rock says, know your damn role and shut your damn mouth!
- Finally, the Rock has come back to (insert place name)!
- The Rock is gonna take that little candy a** of yours, shine it up real nice, turn that sumbitch sideways and stick it straight up YOUR CANDY A**!
- Just bring it, Jabroni!
- If you can smellllllll, what the Rock is cookin’!
- The Rock will take you down Know Your Role Boulevard, which is on the corner of Jabroni Drive and check you directly into the Smackdown Hotel!
One hell of a long list I know, but it didn’t even begin to encompass all the phrases the ‘Jabroni beating, pie-eating, trail-blazing, eye-brow raising People’s Champion’ possessed in his repertoire. No other superstar possessed even half the amount of catchphrases that The Rock possessed. No one quite possibly ever will.
During the ‘Invasion’ angle in 2001, he finally found a man equal to him on the mic, in the form of Chris Jericho. The Rock had a memorable feud with ‘Y2J’, with both men bickering back and forth on the mic on several occasions which made for must-see television. Truly, The Rock’s only equal on the mic; Chris Jericho was the only superstar who could leave the Great One at a loss for words more than once, a testament to Jericho’s own individual greatness.
The Rock comes from a wrestling lineage, with his father being the great Rocky Johnson, and his grandfather was the ‘High Chief’ Peter Maivia, one of the biggest stars in the 1960s (the name Rocky Maivia infused aspects of both his father and grandfather’s name). His cousins are the former WWF Intercontinental Champion Rikishi and the late Umaga, and the current WWE superstars, The Usos, are his nephews.
The legend of the Rock would be incomplete without one man; Stone Cold Steve Austin. Headlining WrestleMania on three different occasions, Rock and Austin’s rivalry was one of the greatest rivalries of all-time. The build-up to their second match, at WrestleMania 17, is widely considered to be the greatest build-up in wrestling history.
It was the main event of the WrestleMania 17, the greatest pay-per view event in the WWF history, and also signaled the end of the ‘Attitude Era’ when Austin allied himself with Mr. McMahon and screwed the Rock out of the WWF title. The Rock would ultimately win only one of these matches, their last match at WrestleMania 19.
The Rock’s enduring legacy also includes his famous ‘Once in a Lifetime’ clashes with Hulk Hogan and John Cena at WrestleMania 18 & 28, both of which he won. His charismatic presence won over several erstwhile WCW fans, planting the millions in their seats. His ‘This is Your Life’ segment with Mick Foley on Raw in September 1999 garnered 8.4 million viewers on TV, making it the highest rated Monday Night Raw segment ever.
Never before has there existed such an unique figure as The Rock, and there will never be a true replacement for him. The Rock has proved that despite becoming a gargantuan movie star, he can still give an excellent match in the ring, and is scheduled to face the WWE Champion at the Royal Rumble (whoever it is at the time). All indications point to a CM Punk vs Rock match and one can only expect Punk and Rock to provide a match for the ages.
And to conclude, just like the Rock would:
‘If you can smellllll, what The Rock is cookin’!
Here’s a classic video of the Rock working his magic in a promo. It’s intense, incredible and hilarious to the core!
These are the other players who have made it to the list so far:
No. 10 – John Cena
No. 9 – Triple H
No. 8 – Andre the Giant
No. 7 – Macho Man Randy Savage
No. 6 – Bret Hart
No. 5 – Shawn Michaels
No. 4 – The Undertaker
Read the detailed write-ups on all the players in this list here: