WWE WrestleMania 27: The Rock's Top 20 PPV Events Ever
With The People's Champion, The Rock, making his first appearance on WWE PPV in seven years it seem appropriate to take a look at the past. After all isn't this the reason why Rocky was brought back in the first place? To gain some of the lost audience from the past.
With that said, welcome to this slide show highlighting The Rock's Top 20 PPV Events Ever. I will remind you all that this is totally opinion based and if you disagree I totally encourage you to post your own list.
With that said lets move on to the first PPV.
20) Rebellion 2001: Manchester Madness
Ironically I'm going to start off with a PPV that most of you have probably never seen. Rebellion was one of two UK-exclusive PPVs that used to take place before Raw and SmackDown events were taped in the country. Despite the event being shown to a restricted audience some major matches took place.
For the third year in a row The Rock main evented Rebellion, this time in a match against Stone Cold Steve Austin for the WWE Championship. It was billed as a WrestleMania X-Seven Rematch and the two put on an amazing show in what would turn out to be the only singles match between a heel Steve Austin and face Rock.
Despite losing the match I would like to include this for the fact that Rock could always point at this PPV and show the WWE locker room what it takes to be considered the best. You put on the best show possible regardless of who is watching and the viewing figures accompanying the event. It doesn't matter who your audience is.
19) Royal Rumble 1999: Brutal Encounter
By the time Mandkind won his first WWE Championship every fan knew you had to be nuts to face off against him in a match that had no rules. Considering this was a man who continued to fight after being tossed off the top of a Cell, wrestled on thumb tacks and could fight with barbed wire wrapped around his torso, nobody believed The Rock could truly win this encounter without having to go as far as killing the WWE Champion.
Essentially this match was the lower end of class from the Attitude Era. High on weapons and low on in-ring action. The match was essentially Rock bashing Mick Foley like a pinata for 20 minutes. Still despite this The People's Champ managed to overcome the Hardcore Legend in his own environment and walked out with his second WWE Championship on the night.
18) No Way out 2003: Rock 2 Hulkamania 0
Hogan vs. Rock at WrestleMania X8 was a classic for the atmosphere and crowd reactions. It was always going to be a hard match to follow up yet WWE attempted it anyway and decided to close No Way Out 2003 with the match in an effort to further The Rock's new Hollywood persona and Hogan's feud with Mr. McMahon.
Roles were reversed this year as Rock was playing the bad guy and Hogan the hero. The crowd cheered appropriately too. In another neat twist the match was taking place in Canada where The Rock began to receive negative reactions from the crowd.
It is a rare feat for anyone to defeat Hogan at a PPV but to do it twice in a WWE ring is beyond amazing for someones in-ring resume. Even if he cheated, The Rock is still 2 and 0 against Hogan in singles competition. Even if he had to use a steel chair. As the t-shirt used to say, "Hit it strong."
17) WrestleMania 13: Father and Son
Before he was The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment, Rocky Maivia was a reasonably successful rookie. Despite being in the company for a few months he won the Intercontinental Championship and would make his WrestleMania debut.
He would successfully defend his championship against The Sultan who was accompanied by his two villainous managers, Bob Backlund and The Iron Sheik. After he won, the three began a beatdown on the IC Champ until his father came to the rescue. In a rare emotional moment for The Rock he had a brilliant team up with his father. Considering the turmoil of his early career this was probably the high point of the Rocky Maivia character.
16) King of the Ring 2000: The Insidious Six
A month earlier, Triple H had regained the title off The Rock from a controversial decision. In the intervening time between then and King of the Ring both The Undertaker and Kane had become involved in the hunt for the WWE Championship. Despite them all gunning for the same prize, the three challengers were unified in their attempts to destroy Triple H's title dominance.
Thus the match was made consisting of The Rock, Undertaker and Kane Vs. Triple H, Vince and Shane McMahon. A six man tag with the winning side gaining the WWE Championship. The problem was that while anyone on Triple H's side could retain his championship, it was the winning member of the challengers who would take away the belt.
It was an interesting situation where allies were also opponents. This led to many blind tags and refusals to tag out. It was pretty unpredictable as it was near impossible to tell who was going to get the fall.
In the end Vince tagged himself in a tried a People's Elbow on The Rock. It was his downfall as The Rock kipped up and delivered a Rock Bottom to secure his fifth WWE Championship.
15) WrestleMania X-Seven: The Greatest Main Event Ever?
WrestleMania X-Seven is widely regarded as the end to the Attitude Era. With WCW now under the ownership of Vince McMahon it could officially be brought to a close. To do it right the final match of the era would have to be between the two biggest stars that forged their careers with Attitude.
For the first time ever a main event was repeated at WrestleMania. Two years on from their first encounter at Mania Austin and The Rock fought for the WWE Championship again. The rivals put on a spectacle that has been considered by some (such as Jim Ross) to maybe be the best World title match in the history of WWE.
It once again showcased the wide variety of wrestling the Attitude era, ranging from outside fighting, Hardcore rules and in-ring expertise. The only reason this probably didn't rank within the top ten was because of the conclusion.
In the end the match was to start Austin's heel turn and send The Rock off to Hollywood. Still to be part of one of the best matches at one of the best PPVs of all time is something that should not be disregarded because The Rock lost.
14) Vengence 2002: One More Time
With Steve Austin disappearing from the company mid-2002 and The Rock leaving around the same time it was thought we may have seen the last of The People's Champ. Despite this he returned in the Summer and instantly placed himself in the World title picture by feuding with The Undertaker.
The match was made even more interesting by having Kurt Angle included because of a title match that ended in a draw. For me this was the best Triple Threat Match I have ever seen. You had the showmanship of The Rock, the technical expertise of Angle and the power/brawling abilities of The Undertaker. In addition to this finishers flew left, right and centre as each man used their own and stole their opponents moves.
The Rock also set a record that night by becoming the first ever seven-time WWE champion by pinning Kurt Angle (ironically he pinned the same guy to become the first ever six-time WWE Champion).
13) Over the Edge: The Nation Dominated
After becoming Intercontinental Champion for the second time, The Rock began to show his dissent to the leader of the Nation of Domination, Faarooq. With a title around his waist he believed he was far superior to a man who had not won a single belt since joining the company. On March 28th 1998 The Rock usurped Faarooq as the leader and reorganised the group as The Nation.
In an exclamation point to The Rock's rise to established star he defeated the former leader at the infamous Over the Edge PPV. The match itself was not fantastic but it was a major moment for The Rock's career as he began the rise that would eventually make him the main eventer everyone remembers.
12) Survivor Series 1996: Rookie Suprise
In 1996 the Survivor Series still lived up to its tag team roots but it was still a considerable risk to let a rookie debut at a PPV. Still the match ups allowed risk and Rocky Maivia took his place on Team Mero against Team Crush.
In what would be an impactful first match not only did Rocky win the match for his team but he did it as the sole survivor with a 2-on-1 deficit. He pinned notable opponents too as he defeated Crush with a flying crossbody and then Goldust with a Running Shoulderbreaker. Its rare for anyone to make such a noticeable debut.
11) Judgement Day 2000: Power Hour
I have said in previous conversations about Ironman matches that it takes the absolute best to wrestle for an entire hour and remain entertaining. For over 60 minutes The Rock and Triple H once again faced off for the WWE Championship, with Shawn Michaels as the Special Guest Referee.
In 2000 The Rock main evented 10 of 12 PPVs (he also main evented the two UK PPVs) and out of all of them, this was the one where he probably put in his best performance. Many Ironman matches have a slow down segment where both men are laid out for long periods of time, yet because of how this match was booked it never seemed like it.
Once again The Rock lost the match, but contributed to his reputation of being one of the best in the business.
10) Royal Rumble 1998: So Close
A month after winning the Intercontinental Championship, The Rock entered the Royal Rumble match as the No. 4 entrant. Despite this apparent disadvantage he was the last one eliminated (by Steve Austin no less) and took a lot of respect with him.
Considering he also fought Ken Shamrock in a title defense for 10 minutes not long before it also puts his long run in the match into perspective.
In a way, this highlights the Rumble match when it was at its greatest. It was an excellent way of not only giving someone the pushed they needed going into WrestleMania but could build up a mid-carder into a more serious star. The Rock almost lasted an hour and arguably was the best performer of the match.
9) SummerSlam 2001: Return to Greatness
After losing at WrestleMania X-Seven to Steve Austin, it had been four long months before we saw The Rock. Storyline-wise he had been suspended because he was a threat to Steve Austin's World title reign. After the Rattlesnake defected to WCW in July, Vince McMahon needed someone who could take the WWE Championship off him. The Rock was re-instated.
However Austin was prepared and threw new WWE arrival and WCW Champion Booker T into his path, setting up the main event for SummerSlam 2001. It was a vital match up for The Rock as he had to re-establish his credibility as a World title contender in WWE. After all, most fans knew his absence was to go make a film and was beginning to mirror the actions taken by Hulk Hogan nearly a decade earlier when he left the company.
The match was a decent display between two of the best showmen in the company and allowed the fans to fully accept The Great One back into the main event picture.
8) Unforgiven 2000: Monster Odds Defeated
The Rock's title win at King of the Ring 2000 was notable because it was the start of his longest title reign as a World Champion. During this time he defeated many challengers and probably his stiffest challenge had to be a Fatal Fourway match at Unforgiven 2000.
He had to defend the title against The Undertaker, Kane and Chris Benoit. Having to fight either Undertaker or Kane in a singles match is bad enough but when the two of them are combined your chances almost go out of the window. Unlike at King of the Ring where their co-operation (to an extent anyway) would allow The Rock to capture the title, this time there would be no faux alliance. To make matters worse, Chris Benoit one of the most vicious submission wrestlers of all time was added to the mix. Two months earlier he nearly defeated The Rock in a singles match for the Championship.
2000 saw The Rock fight many against-the-odds matches where he was always set up to lose and make the breakthrough win. This was the first they came in a genuine situation where there was no added stipulations (such as DQ loses the belt) or outside interference. His victory at this PPV secured him the reputation of someone you could never bet against.
7) WrestleMania XV: First Time to Shine
Although WrestleMania X-Seven is widely seen as the better match, it was more of a moment for Austin rather than Rock. Two years ago Rocky Maivia was one of the most hated babyfaces in the company because of his goody-two shoes personality. By WrestleMania XV he was a beloved heel. Although his popularity still couldn't rival that of Steve Austin, yet.
The reason why this match (and his highest loss on the list) is within the top 10 because it fully secured The Rock a place within WWE lore. Those that main event WrestleMania may go on and do other things afterwards but they are never forgotten by the company.
Two years ago it looked as if Rocky Maivia was going to be put to rest. In 1999 The Rock began his journey to fully earn the title of WWE Legend.
6) Royal Rumble 2000: Lucky Number 24
Although The Rock did receive title shots after turning face in 1999, they always seemed to be downplayed. If he did get a match for the title then more focus was placed on another confrontation and he always seemed to act more like filler than a true main eventer.
In some ways Steve Austin needing to leave WWE for neck surgery late that year gave a huge boost to The People's Champion. The company needed someone the fans could really get behind and who else but The Rock had the kind of support to handle such a large fanbase.
On the night The Rock entered at Number 24 and would gain four eliminations while taking just under 15 minutes to win. The most startling of those elimination had to be the Big Show when he used the giant's momentum against him to send him toppling over the top rope as his final elimination.
The win propelled Rock back into the permanent main event picture and gave him one of his most memorable victories in his career.
5) Survivor Series 1998: Path of a Champion
Two years after debuting, The Rock returned to the PPV where he made his first appearance. On this night he would take part in four matches in which he set two records. The first was against The Big Bossman who he defeated in four seconds (officially recognised as the shortest match, bell to bell, in WWE History) and by defeating Mankind later that night he became the youngest WWE Champion of all time at the age of 27 (now broken by Brock Lesnar).
In addition to those two wins he picked up victories over Ken Shamrock and The Undertaker. The matches were far from stellar and in all honesty the event was a little bit of a let down. Still The Rock won his first ever World Championship on this night with four victories in the bag. It also saw a rare double turn as Rock became heel once again and Mankind became a face.
4) Survivor Series 2001: WCW Put to Rest
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the WCW/ECW Invasion angle. Despite the whole thing being considered a disaster, it was a story I found reasonably entertaining and did have its memorable moments. In particular the final conflict between WWE and the Alliance at Survivor Series 2001.
The result of the match was a forgone conclusion from the word go. There was no chance in hell that Vince McMahon was going to book his own company to go out of business. The match came down to the final two of The Rock (representing WWE) and Stone Cold Steve Austin (representing WCW/ECW). Thanks to The Rock's amazing ability to sell moves and be an all-in-all showman at one point he actually had me holding my breath after Chris Jericho made his long expected heel turn and almost cost him the match.
After a kick out Kurt Angle came down to the ring and nailed Austin with the title belt which caused him to turn around into a Rock Bottom and a three count. Whilst storyline-wise it was a team effort, The Rock went down in the history books as the one who put WCW to rest.
3) WrestleMania X8: Iconic Triumph
When Hulk Hogan returned with the NWO at No Way Out 2002 people was expecting one of two matches for WrestleMania. He would face off again Stone Cold Steve Austin or The Rock. It was The Great One who answered the call.
One of the matches that was widely thought to forever be a dream match was going to happen at the biggest event of the year. The build up to the match saw Hogan do numerous villainous deeds such as attacking Rock with a hammer and then smashing him with a Semi-Truck while the ambulance was taking him to hospital.
Despite this the crowd was high on Hogan but the night would belong to The Rock as he became one of very few men to cleanly defeat Hogan in a WWE ring. The Rock's ability to sell along with the crowd reaction Hogan could envoke made this match one for the ages.
2) WrestleMania XIX: Third Time's the Charm
After defeating Hulk Hogan for the second time at No Way Out 2003 The Rock made a surprise appearance on Raw the next night. Apparently due to his services to Mr. McMahon he was allowed to appear on whatever show he wished. His first Raw back saw him lose out in a Battle Royale for a shot at the World Championship but in the end it was irrelevant.
The Rock claimed he had bigger fish to fry than the World Championship. He had already won nine of them. Instead he wanted to do something that he had never accomplished before, defeat Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania. Twice he had tried and twice he had failed.
The build up may have been weak and considering Austin's health was nowhere near 100% it was surprising that the match actually turned out to be as good as it did. Most of Austin's offense was highly restricted to punches and Stunners, more so than usual, meaning Rock had to sell the match to his heart's content. Considering the amount of abuse Austin could take was also limited it meant a lot of showman skills were required to keep the match entertaining.
Rock managed to keep the match alive and because of it managed to stop Austin's final performance in WWE from being remembered as a stain on his legacy. For The Rock however, he had finally defeated the one man who had seemed unbeatable in singles competition. In front of 54,000 fans he was given a standing ovation despite being a heel.
1) Backlash 2000: Against All Odds
After just coming up short in a Fatal Fourway Elimination match at WrestleMania 2000, The Rock was granted a singles match against the reigning WWE Champion, Triple H. Although I used the term singles match lightly.
The McMahon's conspired to keep the title on their family-by-marriage by any means possible. Shane McMahon was made the special guest referee for the match and although the stipulation was not set it was essentially a No DQ match up. The Rock not only had to fight the champion but he had to fend off the referee, D-Generation X, Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco. Every time The Rock gained an inch, the McMahons took back a mile.
The match itself was one of the master pieces of the Attitude era. It through everything at the audience. It was one of those occasions everybody got behind the face and cheered to their heart's content, I doubt there was a single fan who did not want to see Rock prevail. The highlight from the match was the Double Rock Bottom through an Announce Table delivered to Triple H and Shane McMahon.
What was noticeable about this match was how it tied in so many other stories that had been built up around at the time such as Earl Hebner vs. Triple H and the return of Stone Cold Steve Austin. The match saw Steve Austin save his long time nemesis from a beatdown by swinging a steel chair at everyone who opposed him. This allowed The Rock to hit the People's Elbow and pin The Game. Moments later Earl Hebner who had been fired by Triple H came down to the ring and counted three to crown a new champion.
The crowd went crazy and I doubt there is a moment in The Rock's career that was so well received and went so well for him.
There are plenty of great Rock matches at PPVs that didn't make this list such as Fully Loaded 2000 or No Way Out 2001 but in the end I had to pic 20 and these were my picks.
As I mentioned if you disagree I full encourage you to list your own top 20 Rock PPV events.