A VERY LONG Blog about The Rock and his career as a wrestler
by, 02-24-2012 at 04:06 PM (2484 Views)
Hi everybody, the last few days there have been an overwhelming amount of blogs that have appeared, some for, most against, The Rock. If you haven't read my blogs before, or forget, I grew up as a WWE fan in the 80's, and quickly my hero's were Hulk Hogan, Million Dollar Man (definitive heel), Macho Man Randy Savage and funnily enough Greg "The Hammer" Valentine (he really had a lovely head of hair, and a nickname I could get behind). I continued to watch for a lot of years, when Bret Hart became my hero along with Razor Ramon. Around the time Razor left, I had a niggling problem over how boring WWE had gotten, I particularly hated Vince McMahon the commentator (back at this time he wasn't lauded as owner on TV). I hated McMahon the commentator because he always made everything seem so, so much better than it was, and I could tell it was absolute shite (Man Mountain Rock? Yeah, this is great AHEM!). Anyway, eventually it felt like bullshit to me, so I stopped watching. I thought it was pretty cool that Hogan turned heel with the nWo, but even during these big days for wCw, the product was always too cheesy for me to enjoy, especially seeing how cool this group of guys were all the time. So I stopped watching wrestling completely for about 2, 2 and a half years.
When I returned after everybody I knew suddenly thought wrestling was cool again, things were completely different than they were before. What of course happened was that the fad died out and alot of people did the new cool thing, but I would say anyone around here who went through that period obviously didn't see it as a fad - We were excited to see wrestling again.
I saw "Rocky Maivia's" debut at 1996's Survivor Series. At this time, my interest had waned but I noticed The Rock. I won't claim to know he was going to be the star that he was, but there was just something about him, even on that one night, that marked him out as a guy to look out for. He didn't have a gimmick at all apart from the goody goody smiley type, but he had something.
Anyway, when I started gradually getting back in to WWE programming around early 1999, and being completely up to speed by WrestleMania, Rock was a 3-time champ. And I was kind of shocked at the status, but this was a new "real" era, with real characters. Even then, The Rock looked like the perfect compliment to Stone Cold Steve Austin. To Austin, he was Macho Man to Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels to Bret Hart. His ultimate rival.
The Rock "electrified" an audience like no other. He was a complete heel for a very long time, and people loved him for it. He made fun of people, he was quick witted, he looked like the epitome of cool, and his ego was incredibly engaging. When Rock turned face after the initila feud with Austin, turning his back on The Corportation, he became my favourite wrestler for a long time, and same with other people. In April 1999, The Rock officially became deservedly on par with Stone Cold Steve Austin as the fans choice. Throughout 1999, Rock was box office. Though always second to Stone Cold in terms of PPV placement, he was not far behind. When Austin was busy with the McMahon's, Rock would be in a title match. When Austin was not around basically, Rock was the number 1. In 1998 and 1999, The Rock's layed the grassroots of his character. He became "The Rock", began an 8 month Intercontinental title reign, ousted Faarooq as leader of the Nation of Domination, who all took their cue from his attitude, had a lengthy feud with Triple H and DX in which he properly "arrived", and sewd the seeds for an eternal rivalry with Triple H. When this was done, he turned face and the crowd were more than ready for it. With Austin so hot as the main face though, The Rock was turned heel again in a masterstroke storyline at Survivor Series, aligning with McMahon and becoming the number 1 heel wrestler in the organisation. A rivalry with Mankind, who he turned heel against, ensued for months, with the two trading titles, most famously in an I Quit match. The Rock was officially cool. He revelled in his wealth, his looks, his success, and most of all his quick wit. Even though he was booed people loved him for it. The lines between face and heel were completely blurred in the Attitude Era. When he became officially face in April, going on his own for the first significant time as a draw, he was, as I said earlier, definitely number 2 after Austin, and definitely the replacement if he had other affairs.
Rock had enough to keep him busy though. Triple H was being groomed the be the future champ as he joined the Corporation/Corporate Ministry, and he picked up his feud with Rock with the roles reversed. This is an example of what The Rock was. Anybody that was paired with him, if the had the ability, would come out shining like gold. Triple H's run in 1999 into total heel owed a lot to The Rock. Never having a problem of doind the job, he put Triple H over as at Over The Edge and Fully loaded in 1999. Rock was bankable, he was a star in his own right and arguably already at Austin's level, so two victories for Triple H, and selling many attacks from the cerebral assassin, put him over HUGE. Rock's only blemish in 1999 was his feud with Billy Gunn, but that was the latter who couldn't keep game with The Rock at SummerSlam. After SummerSlam, Rock put himself back into the title picture, saying he was sick of wasting time with the likes of Mr Ass and Gangrel. He would only still be a sideshow though to Austin, he would return from injury and try avenge against the new champ Tripple H. In this time, Rock would help form the extremely memorable tag team with the deranged Mankind "The Rock n' Sock Connection". When Austin took a year long sabbatical after being "run over", Rock was the new big man in WWE, and was trusted to be the new face of the company. He didn't disappoint. He won the Royal Rumble (albeit controversially, as was the style at the time) and would go on to WrestleMania to compete in a fatal 4 way with the recently retired emotional pick Mick Foley, former champ Big Show and Uber heel Triple H. After mania, The Rock was firmly number 1 in the company. His feud with Triple H properly picked up again, and he defeated him at Backlash 2000 to finally...finally become WWE champ again. It had been a year, and people were more than ready for it. Rock lost the title in an Iron Man match to Triple H at Judgement Day (in controversial circumstances, as was the style at the time), before picking it back up a month later at King of The Ring, to go on his most definable title reign of his career.
There was a time that if Austin was going to be out of the picture, that mass panic would have ensued putting all the momentum the company gained from wCw at serious risk. By the time Austin had to get neck surgery, confidence in Rock being the face of WWE was clear. He would lead them into the 21st Century. Rock became a mainstream hit, making memorable appearances on the likes of Saturday Night Live, That 70's Show and even Star Trek. His ultra cool demeanor brought a new image to WWE, that built on what they had achieved in the earlier Attitude Era years. The first PPV defence of his definitive title reign was against Chris Benoit at Fully Loaded. Chris Benoit had his fan's and was absolutely a credible threat, but we all knew his charisma was very lacking. Rocky made him look like gold. Main eventing this PPV with an upper midcarder would usually be a forgettable scenario in most WWE years for other champ's, but they had one of the greatest main event's arguably ever and definitely of the year. Rock made Benoit a worthy challenger to his title. A month later, he retained at SummerSlam in a triple threat with Kurt Angle and Triple H, where the focus was clearly on the latter two and their feud and Rock took a backseat. Regardless, Rock still got the biggest pop of the night by a long shot. He would defend against Undertaker, Kane and again Benoit in a Fatal 4 Way at Unforgiven, before putting Angle over at No Mercy for his first WWE championship. He was an integral part of the Austin storyline, and was right to be. This storyline was going to be head and shoulders above everything else going on, and The Rock's involvement was a must. Out of the title picture, he would fight Rikishi at Survivor Series and then compete in a big 6 Man Hell In A Cell at Armageddon, taking the pinfall, which he never minded doing. The Rock could be beat by anyone, and that made him even more believable. After falling short at the Royal Rumble, hebeat Kurt Angle is a much better than expected match at No Way Out 2001 to set up the rematch between him and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Now they were on a level playing field, there was no doubt about that. This was going to be the biggest main event since Andre The Giant v Hulk Hogan. It didn't disappoint. They had the iconic clash of a generation. Austin won. And then Rock was gone.
In 2000, the Rock appeared in The Mummy Returns and gained attention of Hollywood. This led to his exit of WWE as he would be filming the spinoff of his character, The Scorpion King. This was Dwayne Johnson's big break. In 2001, he would come back and be hugely over and was once again number 1 face in lieu of Austin's heel turn that year. He put Jericho over not once, not twice, but three times when he was trying to establish himself as a main eventer. His promo game was welcomed back and he was thrust in the limelight. Alot of people though, myself included, were kind of bored by The Rock. We didn't hate him by any means, we were still entertained by him, but it just seemed "same ol stuff". Maybe fans in the know found it harder to get behind a guy who they knew would be gone again in a few months. I personally just think the writing and all the set pieces in the shows went spectacularly off the boil (still good but a bit meh). He would face Hollywood Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania X8, get booed out of the building (during the match) and then be gone from our screens for the rest of the year, more or less. This is the booing at the two WrestleMania's explained. The Rock was incredibly well liked by everyone in attendance, but.... he was never a sympathetic face. He was a face like no other, because he was a complete heel, but he would mostly be heel towards other heel's. Against Austin at WrestleMania X-Seven, it was in Austin's home state for one, and he was built up as the face trying to compete his comeback. Against Hogan, Rock had less fans than he did for various reasons, but Hulk Hogan was making an emotional comeback to his proper hime, the WWE, and at WrestleMania. There was no way nostalgia would lose out. Dwayne Johnson, the man, showed his credentials and respect to WWE when he made an emergency return in the wake of Stone Cold Steve Austin's sudden departure from WWE in June 2002 and duly stepped in for a couple of months. No doubt a record 7th championship reign was a barter in the deal, but why not? Instead of going over The Undertaker for the title at SummerSlam, and having less options as defending champion, Brock Lesnar was able to add The Rock to his list of victims for his debut title, and THEN be able to work with Undertaker in a fresh program. Rock's return wasn't selfish. When Lesnar would have won the title as SummerSlam, he wouldn't have had as many options for his first defence. With Rock in place to defeat, he could then stamp his credentials as champ by beating Undertaker. That's my argument anyway. He got booed yeah, but Rock always got booed when up against somebody with incredible momentum. He was going away though, and the fans made him know they weren't impressed.
In early 2003, Rock emerged. A new Rock emerged though, The version of The Rock a lot of people think he really is. He was cocky (of course), but EVEN MORE cocky than he ever was, too good for WWE because he was now a MOVIE STAR. A satellite promo with Hulk Hogan to promote their rematch at No Way Out 2003 consisted mainly of Rock acting like Hulk Hogan wasn't even there. A week later, he would return to Smackdown! to a chorus of boo's (for leaving for Hollywood, for being bland at the end of his last run and for making fun of the superhero that was Hulk Hogan) and he ran with it. Rocky was heel again, and it was absolutely fresh. He returned to the ring at No Way Out, with a swagger that he never had before and beat Hulk in the rematch to go 2-0. His promo the next night at Raw, was epic. He insulted the crowd in Toronto for booing him against Hogan at the prior WrestleMania, saying that since they booed him first they are the first who aren't allowed to sing along with The Rock and do his catchphrases. It was funny, and Rock was once again the best thing in wrestling. His return was not a long one, he was now a movie star but we were all happy to have him back for this short time in his pay off feud to his epic rival Stone Cold Steve Austin and the debut feud he engaged with Bill Goldberg. Of course, he put Goldberg over, and rode off into the sunset. After only being back for about 2 months as a fresh heel, once again the power that the Rock had made him into arguably into a face again, people loved the new attitude that he portrayed. Hell, for a few weeks of his short return, he had a mini tv feud with The Hurricane, giving him a win and the most memorable program of Gregory Helms' career.
In May of 2003, as a guest on the highlight reel, Rock showed that he could just snap his finger and have everybody fall in love with him again, just in one segment. He came back for a program in early 2004 where he was going to help Mick Foley in his feud with Evolution, for a match at WrestleMania XX. After this bout, he bowed out, apart from the very odd appearance. The Rock had done everything in WWE, now he was going to concentrate on his acting career.
That is basically The Rock's whole career in a few paragraph's. It doesn't do his career justice. The Rock was a phenomenom and his continued success is a credit to himself, and to WWE.
Here is my view on the whole thing. When Rock originally went to dp The Scorpion King, this wasn't a new thing in wrestling. Many wrestlers throughout the year's, most notably Hulk Hogan, took time off from the squared circle to do movie's. The Rock had "it", the same "it" that made him a success in WWE translated over to Hollywood. Anyway, the first time he went away, it was pretty disappointing that he wouldn't be on our screens for a few months but everybody got over it. When he went away after his match with Hogan, it was a good thing in a way. WWE needed a new direction. Everything seemed all thrown together, too much was happening with such a bloated roster that couldn't be controlled after the wCw buyout, and Rock was no exception. When leaving after SummerSlam, people were pissed off with him. He had many great moments in his return, the triple threat at Vengeance, the classic promo with Eddie Guerrero, the match with Lesnar, but everybody knew he was no longer a full time wrestler and they wanted rid of him, partly because everybody was invested in Brock Lesnar's unstoppable rise. In 2003, he came back, thankfully as a heel, using the recent past for turning on the fans like they turned on him. This sealed the deal in my opinion that I preferred him as a heel, and I wasn't alone. This time, by the time he left, people were in love with him again, he wasn't just doing the same thing, this last run was fresh and he was appreciated for it, even if he was going back to Hollywood.
The sad thing about this "disrespecting the business", only coming back to promote his movies, all the stuff we've heard ONE MILLION TIMES already is that some fans genuinely believe this and are buying into a wrestling storyline as real life. WWE are pushing this as a storyline, and unfortunately too many fans take what they hear as gospel. Face up to it, The Rock has always been Dwayne Johnson. And frankly, he's still helping out the business, and himself of course. I haven't heard any stories of guys going up to The Rock and asking for any advice and getting knocked back. These wrestler's in the back reek of spoiled brats from what I hear, who think that Dwayne should go up to them and fall over himself to endorse them, instead of putting out their hand and trying to get to know him and learn from what he has to offer. The Rock has earned his stripes, he deserves his spot regardless of being full time or not, this is WWE people, the same guys who put Mr T in the main event of the first WrestleMania. For the guys upset at losing their spot who bust their ass all year, they should remember this is WWE and WrestleMania, It's all about the occasion, not about the superstars. If these spoiled and over entitled brats in the back have a problem with any of this, they have to knuckle the fuck down so WWE doesn't feel compelled to use the Rock in their main programs because they have some guys with bloody character to fill the void. No wonder Vince McMahon is weary of the future, there are a bunch of prima donna's in his organisation who as Dwayne says, spend their time complaining about not getting over instead of trying to get over.
To the internet fans with too much time on their hands, The Rock, or Dwayne johnson, is an actor now. Deal with it. I've obviously got too much time on my hands myself, so I'm going to stop defending The Rock's audacity now to get back involved in wrestling because to some people it's going to fall on deaf ears, and they'll only believe negative news because that's what's the fun and easy thing is to do.
Leave comments if you want, but I'm bored with this slander of Dwayne Johnson, the man who had the cheek to get out of wrestling early and follow a fun and more lucrative career, and didn't develop either a drink problem or a drug problem. How dare he come back into the organisation and not stay on in the first place so he could see his career, and possibly mental state go down the drain like all of our favourites, so we could kick him when he is down like all the other guys we "like".
for new and old fans, those of you who lament that Dolph Ziggler is the best seller yet not the main man yet (he's flavour of the month), The Rock WAS the best seller at one time but he got ahead because he created a personality so engaging that Ziggler could only dream of.
To me, this begrudgery of The Rock is a slap in the face to all the legends who have been paralyzed, died well before their time, had drug and drink problems, lost all their money and had to take any job they could to stay afloat. It's fucking typical, one genuine diamond in the rough in the whole industry and people give him shit because he's made a success out of himself. The wrestlers who are below him and complain are just jealous and that's it, yet another example of "feeling they should be handed everything". The Smarks have no fucking idea, no matter how clued in they think they are. Sorry about some of my language but how else can you express yourself sometimes when faced with complete ignorance. I can't wait til somebody tells me how wrong and stupid I am. In the words of the great one...Just Bring It!