WWE: The Evolution of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. He has had an interesting life and career.
The Rock is involved in the main event of WrestleMania 28 and will look to electrify fans once again.
Here is a look at the Rock's career in professional wrestling and how he has become who he is today.
Rocky Johnson and High Chief Peter Maivia
The Rock is a third-generation superstar. His grandfather was High Chief Peter Maivia and his father was Rocky Johnson. Wrestling runs in his veins, so we will look at his family history first.
Peter Maivia was the promoter for the NWA promotions in Hawaii and was the head of the famous Samoan wrestling family. He won several titles in the NWA and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008.
Rocky Johnson won the NWA Georgia championship and Southern Heavyweight Memphis championship along with several other championships. With Tony Atlas as his partner, he was part of the first black tag team to win the World Tag Team championship in the WWE.
Debut as Rocky Maivia
Johnson made his WWE debut in 1996 as Rocky Maivia. His name was a combination of his father and grandfather's names. He was initially pushed as a face and was given the nickname "The Blue Chipper."
He had significant success very early on, as he won the Intercontinental Championship just three months after his debut. With the rise of the anti-hero, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Maivia's clean-cut character grew old with the fans.
The Rock and the Nation of Domination
With all the hatred from his Rocky Maivia character, he used it to turn heel and into The Rock. He joined the Nation of Domination, which was led by Faarooq at the time. He began referring to himself in the third person and called himself "The Rock."
He started rising as a heel by insulting the fans. He was given the opportunity to cut promos and became one of the best on the mic and at cutting promos.
The Rock eventually took over as the leader of the Nation of Domination and began feuding with Faarooq because of it. The Rock won the feud and retained the Intercontinental Championship. The Nation of Domination began feuding with DX, which focused on Triple H and The Rock. The Rock eventually lost the belt to Triple H, which led to a feud with Mark Henry that caused the disbandment of the Nation of Domination.
What is really interesting is how similar the "Rocky sucks" chants are to the "Cena sucks" chants.
People's Champion and the Corporation
The Rock's ability to entertain on the mic and in interviews caused him to become a fan favorite and a face again. He became the self-proclaimed "People's Champion."
This put him in a feud with Vince McMahon. McMahon claimed to have a problem with the people and felt he should target the "People's Champion."
At Survivor Series in 1998, there was a tournament for the vacant WWF Championship. The final round came down to The Rock and Mankind. The Rock was a face and Mankind was a heel, but their roles swapped after this match.
In a spoof from the Montreal Screwjob the year before, The Rock defeated Mankind with the help of Vince McMahon. This caused The Rock to turn heel again and Mankind to turn face. The two would feud for several months while passing the belt back and forth.
The Rock was betrayed by Shane McMahon and slowly became a face again.
The Rock 'n' Sock Connection
In 1999, the Rock found a tag team partner in an unlikely place. He joined forces with former enemy Mankind to create the Rock 'n' Sock connection. They won the WWF Tag Team Championship three times.
Both superstars were very unique and the clash of their personalities made it extremely entertaining. Their time as tag team partners also led to the famous "This Is Your Life" segment.
WWF Championships and Final Run
The Rock won the 2000 Royal Rumble in controversial fashion that left him in feuds with the Big Show, the McMahons and Triple H.
After months of competing and being involved in the WWF Championship picture, the Rock became the WWF Champion for the fourth time in his career. He defeated Triple H at Backlash with the help of Stone Cold Steve Austin to earn the title.
At Judgement Day that year, the Rock lost the belt to Triple H after being disqualified. He joined forces with the Undertaker and took on the McMahon-Helmsley connection. The Rock won his fifth WWF Championship in a tag team match (sounds strange) in which he teamed with Kane and Undertaker to face Triple H, Vince and Shane McMahon.
The Rock would defend his title successfully until losing it to Kurt Angle at No Mercy. He spent some time as Tag Team Champion with Undertaker before getting back in the WWF title picture.
In 2001, he re-entered in a feud with Angle and won his sixth WWF Championship at No Way Out. This set him up for a memorable feud with Royal Rumble winner, Stone Cold Steve Austin. The two faced each other at WrestleMania 17 and the Rock lost the belt to Austin, who was helped by Vince McMahon.
In 2002, the Rock defeated Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 18 in a similar match that he finds himself in at WrestleMania 28. The match was considered an "Icon vs. Icon" match. Later this year, the Rock won his seventh WWE Championship at Vengeance. He defeated Angle and Undertaker in a triple-threat match.
The Rock would hold the title until losing the it to Brock Lesnar, which made Lesnar the youngest WWE Champion of all time. The youngest champion before Lesnar was actually the Rock. This was the last time he held the WWE Championship.
After a few face and heel turns, the Rock would leave the company to pursue other career options.
Long Hiatus from the WWE
The Rock left the WWE to pursue an acting career. The Rock would make a few part-time appearances that were mainly pre-recorded. In 2008, he inducted both his grandfather and father into the WWE Hall of Fame.
The Rock starred in films like Walking Tall, Gridiron Gang and Be Cool.
After The Game Plan, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson dropped his wrestling name and wanted to go by just "Dwayne Johnson." He felt he deserved the respect from his peers and critics as an actor to be recognized by his actual name. Following the dropping of his wrestling nickname, Johnson appeared in films like Tooth Fairy and The Other Guys.
He reinstated "The Rock" into his name when he returned to the WWE in 2011.
The Return and Feud with John Cena
Finally, the Rock has come back to the WWE. After almost seven years, he returned live on Monday Night Raw and was announced as the Host of WrestleMania 27. The Rock addressed several things in the WWE, but most importantly, John Cena.
The Rock started a rivalry with Cena over comments he said about the Rock "ditching" the WWE. Their feud heated up each week and the Rock cost Cena his match against Miz at WrestleMania.
Then Cena challenged the Rock to a match at WrestleMania 28, which the Rock accepted.
The Rock wrestled for the first time since his return in a tag team match at Survivor Series. Cena was his partner as they faced "Awesome Truth." Cena and the Rock won the match and the Rock gave Cena his finisher, the Rock Bottom, after the match.
In February of 2012, the Rock returned to spark up the feud with Cena again and has appeared on Raw every week since. The two will face off in a few days at WrestleMania 28, which is being hyped as being the greatest match of all time. We will see!