WWE News: Jim Ross revealed as the creator behind 'The Rock' nickname
What's the story?
Bruce Prichard, who is well known for portraying Brother Love in WWF as well as for his backstage creativity, mentioned recently on his 'Something To Wrestle' Podcast that a very prominent name in the pro wrestling industry should be credited with helping to create 'The Rock' nickname and persona - Jim Ross.
Prichard mentioned several instances where he, Ross, Vince Russo and Vince McMahon would throw ideas around in order to keep the young superstar on the right track to stardom. Ringsidenews.com reported the news with a partial transcript of some of the ideas Ross came up with for Dwayne Johnson.
In case you didn't know...
The Rock actually started out his WWF career as the smiling baby-face known as Rocky Maivia. It borrowed his maternal grandfather's last name (High Chief Peter Maivia) and used his father's (Rocky Johnson) first name.
He was good in the ring but just could not get the crowd to like him. At one point the crowd even chanted 'Die, Rocky, die' to express their dislike for the young wrestler. When he returned from injury, he did so as a heel member of the Nation of Domination.
The Rock's mic skills propelled him to become the star of the group and he eventually took over control of the group from Farooq. In this transition, he started to develop a lot of the mannerisms and tics that would soon become synonymous with The Rock character.
The heart of the matter
Ringsidenews.com wrote about how Prichard revealed that a lot of the decisions about The Rock's character came from the time he was out with an injury. He spoke about how Vince Russo racked his brain in order to help The Rock switch up his character:
“When we made the phone call, the entire situation was that Rocky was out with a knee injury and Russo did not know what to do with him. He kept going, ‘I do not know what to do with this guy.’ I brought up putting him in the Nation of Domination. That way we protect him with his knee. They were chanting “Die, Rocky, die,” so he has a reason to be in this group, so bring him back as a heel. Let him cut the promos on the people.”
Prichard also mentioned that The Rock wasn't too keen on turning heel but was convinced after talking it through with Russo and Jim Ross. It changed the course of his career.
“Russo had called Rocky and pitched it, but Rocky did not want to be a heel. He didn’t want to do it. So, Jim Ross and I got on the phone with him, pitched it, and then he started going, ‘Okay, I could do that.’ At that time, nobody dreamed that he’d be a breakout star and take over the Nation like he did. When he did, I’ll never forget Vince [McMahon] going, ‘God damn, what’s wrong? You put a microphone in his hand and the crowd goes nuts. Give him a God damn microphone and let him talk!’ That’s what made The Rock.”
Jim Ross' shrewd knowledge of both the wrestling business and pro sports, in general, helped mold the ideas that would help create one of the greatest sports' entertainers of all time.
“In the pitch to Rock, [Ross] said “God damn, boy. I saw Deion [Sanders] cut a promo, and he’s gonna have a good game. Why don’t you refer to yourself [like Sanders did] in the third-person. Call yourself The Rock, just shorten it.’”
So it appears that if not for the suggestions of one of the greatest commentators of all time, we might not have witnessed the creation of one of the best WWE superstars of all time in the Rock.
It's always interesting to find out how some of the inner-workings backstage created some of the best characters or storylines in the history of the pro wrestling business. Ross was mostly a commentator on screen, but as Prichard detailed, he had a lot of responsibilities backstage.
The creative process in wrestling isn't an easy one and it appears it often takes multiple ideas from multiple minds in order to create some of the best storylines or characters in history.
'The Rock' persona didn't just sprout up overnight but according to Prichard, it took a lot of planning and convincing on the parts of Prichard, Russo and Ross. It also took some leaps of faith by The Rock.