Dreaming Awake: How The Rock has Changed My Life Forever
Monday, February 14, 2011 started out as a normal day for me.
I hit snooze on my alarm clock to give me that extra—and unnecessary—ten minutes of sleep, only to drive faster to avoid being ten minutes late for work.
However, something in the back of my mind distracted me throughout the day.
I wrote a few preview pieces on the chances of The Rock coming back to the WWE. Thank you for the many reads and comments given to these articles.
Before jumping to any conclusions and saying he was returning—like I have done to myself so many times in the past—I tried to keep my emotions at bay.
Unfortunately, my emotions got the best of me as usual.
I found myself playing various Rock themes on my lunch break at work, some of which I haven't heard in years. If that isn't a sign of me getting my hopes up, I don't know what is.
On the way home from work, I had a talk with my mother, who knows my passion for WWE and how much it has meant to me over the years.
I have been away from home for nearly ten years now. When I was at home, and I thought something big was about to happen, I would ask my mom to watch.
This is one of the first times in years I have asked her to turn on WWE. I told her The Rock would be supposedly returning tonight and would host WrestleMania 27, located in our hometown of Atlanta.
When I got home from work, I put on my "Finally, The Rock Has Come Back To Atlanta" t-shirt, got ready for the show and the big announcement and prayed that I wouldn't be let down.
I have watched WWE for 21 years, ever since I watched WrestleMania VI with my older brother. It's a part of my life: etched in my skin, running through my veins.
Growing up in Atlanta, which is WCW country to most people, it was tough to be a WWE fan. I still remember going to school and hearing all the kids talking about Goldberg and Hulk Hogan rather than Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels or The Rock.
I kind of liked it that way, because it made me feel more like it was my product.
My walls, once covered with HBK and Bret Hart posters, slowly transitioned to posters of Steve Austin and The Rock in the late 90s. I am sure I am not alone on this one.
I am a retail manager by day, but I dream big at night.
If Bret Hart could return last year, why couldn't The Rock return this year? Anything can happen, right?
With The Rock, I wasn't so sure. Part of me felt like he didn't care about the WWE anymore. However, I believed in my heart that this moment would eventually happen.
I'll admit, I didn't know what I was seeing at the 1996 Survivor Series, when this young man known as Rocky Maivia would turn into the star that we are seeing today.
"Now, there's gonna be the man right there, that's blue chipper right there!" Jim Ross shouted from the announcers' table at the Survivor Series during The Rock's in-ring debut.
Fifteen years and nine world titles later, he wasn't kidding.
However, The Rock called it quits in 2004 when he left WWE behind to do something he long dreamed of, acting in Hollywood.
Wrestling fans around the world didn't hold this against The Rock, instead enjoying his first set of films. I supported him 100 percent.
Then, things took a turn for the worst.
Around 2006, the man known to us as simply The Rock, didn't want to be known as that person anymore. He dropped his “The Rock” tagline used in his first movie roles, and instead wanted to be known by his full name, Dwayne Johnson.
He explained, "From now on please call me Dwayne Johnson. I want to be known as Dwayne Johnson the actor, and not The Rock. I loved The Rock; The Rock was a nickname but what's happened is it's naturally progressed into Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson. When it becomes just Dwayne Johnson, as it will in the next movie Southland Tales, that's fine. I never wanted to make that defining statement. It just didn't feel right to me."
That stung a little bit.
Still, I supported The Rock and I've seen all of his movies. Yes, even Doom.
In January of 2010, I got that itch he could be coming back. While on David Letterman, he said the following when asked about returning: "not necessarily for a match, but more in the capacity of hosting, having fun, where I could go and entertain and have a great time."
During that interview, he also said, "I'll always be The Rock."
I got goosebumps when he said that, and that was the first time in six years I figured The Rock would return to the WWE eventually.
Just a few weeks ago, he posted the following on his official Facebook page:
..."to 'the Rock's millions and millions'...who will forever be my family, it is important to me to say this from my heart - to the incredibly loyal '..The Rock's Millions and Millions...' and the entire WWE UNIVERSE...I am forever humbled and grateful to you for allowing me the HONOR to entertain you over the years...you have my word I will continue to entertain you in ways like no one else...it's only just the beginning... I dream big...and we've achieved those dreams together because you never left my side..I love you for that and thank you... I am Dwayne Johnson...and I will also always be The Rock."
The night of Raw, just hours before his return, he posted, "FINALLY...Get Ready... DJ" on his page as well, with a classic picture of him posing on the turnbuckle.
While it seemed more and more like he was going to return, I still had to wait and see, just like everyone else.
In dead silence, with every light shut off in the Anaheim arena, it sent a chill down my spine.
The anticipation was killing me.
When the screen went dark and the sounds of electricity were gone, his music hit.
"IF YOU SMELL...What The Rock... Is Cookin..."
The return of The Rock signifies so many things on my life. I dreamed of this moment for years, and now it is a reality, and it is so hard to believe.
When he took off his sunglasses and spoke, he said the following:
"It is not because of the money, it is not because of a movie, I am back in the middle of the ring, because of you. When I left the WWE seven years ago, I dreamed big, and you guys dreamed big with me, and you guys helped me accomplish my goals, accomplish my dreams, because you never left my side. I want to take this moment to tell you all here, live here, millions watching around the world, thank you, I love you, and it is because of you that I am back in the ring and it is because of you, and I give you my word, that I am never, ever, going away."
The Rock is back and is hosting WrestleMania!
And you can believe that I'll be there, sitting directly on the ramp near the ring.
Thank you Dwayne Johnson. To me, you were always The Rock, and I am glad that you realize that WWE will forever be your home.
It looks like Miami will possibly see The Rock inducted at next years WrestleMania in the Rock's hometown.
A match with John Cena? I doubt it. But, hey, you never know for sure.
One thing is for sure: the next few months, or even the rest of the year, is going to be a magical ride for WWE fans across the world.
This does so much to my confidence and feelings towards so many things in life. I needed this. I'll never give up so easily on things I want to do from here on out, If I can see it, believe it, then I can achieve it.
Dream big, hit it fast, hit it hard.
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