In every walk of life, you have that one performer who excels at what he does more than anyone else. You look back at Babe Ruth in baseball, Michael Jordan in basketball, and so on. When you look at them, you know they were destined to do what they’re doing, and by doing so, they raise the stakes to such incredible heights, that even after they’re long gone, the fans remember them, and continue to admire what they had done. When you’re incredibly talented at what you do, you achieve something that the others can only dream of. You achieve perfection, and in doing so, you create magic, and give the people memories that will stick with them for a very long time. These achievers, no matter who they are and where they come from, thus get immortalized in their respective sport. One such person who personified everything about the sports entertainment industry was Dwayne Johnson, known to his millions and millions of fans as ‘The Rock’.
Dwayne Johnson was the answer to Vince McMahon’s quest for perfection in the business. When Vince conceptualized the ‘entertainment’ route for professional wrestling, he was looking for someone who could epitomize just that. You had Hulk Hogan who was the first answer to Vince McMahon’s plan, but when it’s all said and done, and when you look back at professional wrestling, and try to think of someone who truly represented the word ‘entertainment’ in the WWE, you are left with very few names, and when you dig deeper, there is perhaps no one who can outdo The Rock in that department. His reputation of being ‘the most electrifying man in sports entertainment history’ is no fluke.
I’ve always been a fan of The Rock in his glory days, although I’ve always been a critic of his later role in the company, and where he stands as a professional wrestler. But there is no doubt in my mind, or in anyone else’s mind, that The Rock as an entertainer was a step above the Shawn Michaels’ and the Steve Austins. The Rock might not make it in my list of the top 10 professional wrestlers, but he would certainly be in the top two of the best entertainers in the history of professional wrestling. Whether it is his catch phrases or his iconic quotes, there is no one in the history of the business that could captivate the fans as well and as easily as The Rock did. It speaks volumes about the person when the fans, old and young, welcomed Dwayne back into the WWE with open arms after he spent nearly seven years away from the company.
Dwayne comes from one of the most respected families in professional wrestling. His father and his grandfather were professional wrestlers, and so were/are his cousins, nephews and niece. As a third generation superstar, Dwayne always had the pressure of achieving what his father and his grandfather had achieved, and even though everyone knew he was destined for greatness, the road to glory wasn’t an easy one for Dwayne Johnson. As a natural athlete, and a man with incredible charisma, Dwayne wanted to make a name for himself in the professional wrestling business, and his dream came true when he debuted in the World Wrestling Federation as Rocky Maivia, and soon after that realized the hardships of being a professional wrestler.
Soon after he debuted, the fans got bored of seeing a smiling, chirpy Rocky, who was a clichéd babyface in the industry. He soon won the prestigious Intercontinental title, but the biggest turn in his career came when he turned heel (becoming a villain), and started calling himself ‘The Rock’. He had many memorable feuds after that, went on to become the WWF Champion, and was involved in arguably the best feud in professional wrestling against ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin. He was directly responsible for WWF winning the ratings war against their bitter rivals, WCW, and making them go out of business. The Rock’s ‘This is your life’ segment with Mick Foley drew the biggest ratings in WWF history!
Dwayne won the WWF and the World title on many more occasions, and ‘The People’s Champion’ entertained two generations of fans, who in turn showed him their respect by sticking with him when he tried his luck in Hollywood. It is a known fact that many previous talents tried their hand in Hollywood, but failed miserably, the best of the lot being Hulk Hogan. The Rock not only succeeded in his attempts, but kicked the door wide open for future stars to follow in his footsteps. Dwayne proved that he was indeed ‘the complete entertainer’ by being successful in Hollywood, along with professional wrestling.
Many of today’s youngsters credit Dwayne as their inspiration for trying to make a name for themselves in Hollywood. At the end of the day, Rock has done something that no one else could, and for that, he has left a legacy in the professional wrestling business that is hard to top. The image of ‘The People’s Eyebrow’ will be etched in the fans’ minds for a very long time, and the sounds of ‘Rocky’ will continue to be heard in arenas all over the world for a long time to come. Not only did Dwayne Johnson give us many great moments, but he can take pride in the fact that he has ‘been all, done all’ in the wrestling industry. The fans will continue to ‘Smell what The Rock is cookin’’ for a very long time to come.
One year after his passing, we at Sportskeeda paid tribute to our very own Road Warrior Animal here.