Dwayne Johnson was not your typical wrestler. In fact it seemed Johnson was destined for a career in the NFL until injuries and bad luck got in the way. Well the NFL’s loss was professional wrestling’s gain as Johnson would become someone who would truly transcend the sport of wrestling and leave his mark forever.
At the start of his career there was nothing that made Rocky Maivia stand out among the thousands of other wrestlers in the business, let alone be up for discussion of which wrestler had the biggest impact on professional wrestling.
He was a true baby face who achieved some early success at the start of his career. However, fans grew tired of his stale one dimensional persona.
Then the chants started:
Die Rocky Die!
The negative crowd response forced the WWF to make a decision; it was time to turn Rocky heel. That decision would forever change the landscape of professional wrestling as it would lead to the birth of the most influential persona in the history of professional wrestling; The Rock!
The Rock was a character the fans would love to hate as he was cocky, arrogant, and self-centered; and he had no problem gaining heat from the fans.
In fact one of his biggest impacts on the world of professional wrestling was his ability to cut great promos; he is the measuring stick to what a great promo should be.
He would regularly make fun of not only opposing wrestlers, but also the fans of the host city as well as the audience at home. His ability to interact with the crowd during the show was one of his greatest talents, as it would make the audience pay more attention to each promo.
The Rock was so good at delivering promos that they became must see television during each Raw broadcast, and although he was a heel, he would still get cheered regularly.
The Rock’s popularity could no longer be denied as he would eventually turn face. The Rock was one of the few wrestlers who can play a heel just as well as a face; and he remained just as popular while cutting the same edgy promos.
The Attitude Era is referred to as the Golden Era of professional wrestling, and the Rock was the mouth that made the Attitude Era so enjoyable.
His impact on the world of wrestling goes beyond delivering stellar promos, he was very accomplished in the ring as well.
The Rock was the 6th ever Triple Crown Champion in the WWE. He would go on to win the WWE/F title 7 times, the Intercontinental Championship twice, was a 5 time tag team champion, and also won the 2000 Royal Rumble.
His greatest feat during his tenure with the WWE/F was becoming the first wrestler of African American decent to become a world champion. That watershed moment was vital to the future success of other African American wrestlers as it proved that Vince McMahon was not afraid to have a colored man as the face of his business.
Additionally, the Rock became the youngest WWF champion at the time of his first reign. This spoke volumes of how highly regarded he was with the company to win the title at such a young age.
One final in ring impact that the Rock had on the world of professional wrestling was becoming the first third generation superstar in the history of the business. Following in the footsteps of his grandfather and father, the Rock helped pave the way for future third generation stars such as Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes.
While there is no debating the huge impact the Rock had in the ring as a wrestler, he had just as big an impact outside of the ring.
The Rock’s first taste of success outside the ring came in March of 2000 when he hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live in order to help promote that year’s upcoming Wrestlemania. His appearance drew an estimated 20 million viewers which was SNL highest ratings in over two years.
This success led to many other opportunities for the Rock.
In addition to appearing in Wyclef Jean’s song “It Doesn’t Matter”, the Rock scored a minor role in the The Mummy Returns which lead to it’s spin-off The Scorpion King.
The WWE was able to capitalize on the Rock’s blossoming star power when it released The Rundown under the WWE Films banner. This was a pivotal moment for both the Rock and WWE. It established the Rock as a credible actor, and the success of the film enabled the WWE to produce several other movies starring Kane, John Cena, and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
The Rock proved that a wrestler can make the transition to the mainstream and paved the way for other wrestlers to pursue their own careers in acting.
To date the Rock has been the lead in three movies that opened number one at the box office; Gridiron Gang, The Game Plan, and Race To Witch Mountain.
Much has been made about the Rock keeping his distance from the WWE since he began his acting career, and some felt he as turned his back on the business. However, he has continued to make very sporadic appearances over the years, which I think is better because that makes every one of his appearances even more special.
There is a rumor floating around that the Rock is going to be the guest host on an upcoming episode of Raw, and I bet the great majority of you will watch if that is the case and I gurandamntee that it will be the highest ratings Raw will have drawn in a long time.
The Rock was the most electrifying man in sports entertainment for a reason; you would want to watch him in the ring as well as outside of the ring; and that my friend is why the Rock had the biggest impact in professional wrestling!