WWE's Vince McMahon Once Wanted The Rock to Wrestle a Bear

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVApril 19, 2022

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson smiles before the NFL Super Bowl 56 football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
AP Photo/Chris O'Meara

The Rock faced and defeated many of the biggest stars in the history of the business during his pro wrestling career, but he narrowly avoided what would have been his biggest challenge: a bear.

On a recent episode of Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard (h/t WrestlingInc's Sai Mohan), longtime WWE executive Bruce Prichard shared a story about WWE Chairman Vince McMahon wanting to hold a match between The Rock and a live bear at the New York Stock Exchange in 2000:

"The ring on Wall Street is when we moved from NASDAQ to the New York Stock Exchange. Vince came into my office on a Thursday, and I believe it was going to be a Tuesday or a Wednesday that we were going to be on the New York Stock Exchange, to ring the bell on the Stock Exchange, and Vince wanted to put a ring in the middle of Wall Street. Shut Wall Street down and put a ring there and have matches at noon. Huge spectacle, we're gonna go live on WWF.com, so it's like, okay, cool. I thought he was just kind of telling me this. So I knew that, 'Okay we need to put on a show, we need to come up with something.'

"But what he was telling me was, 'Hey, I want to do this, get it done.' As he trails off he goes, 'And I want a bear! I want The Rock to wrestle a bear.' The Brahma Bull versus the bear. The honest to God living wrestling bear which used to be an attraction back in the day."

The idea was an apparent play on bull and bear markets since The Rock's nickname was "The Brahma Bull."

As Prichard alluded to, having a pro wrestler grapple with a bear was something of a common attraction decades ago, but that was no longer the case in 2000.

Luckily for The Rock, McMahon and WWE thought better of the idea, and Prichard explained why:

"The bear, thank God, was reconsidered on several fronts. Because, first of all, you had the animal rights activists that would not look kindly on a wrestling bear. Even though the human rights activists that probably should have been alarmed. Because trust me … the bear always goes over. So anyway, as we're getting closer to this, the idea becomes, 'Well, do you really want a bear hanging around on the New York Exchange the day your stock goes public?' Well, 'The bear was out today on the New York Stock Exchange.'

"No you don't want that. You want the Brahma Bull. You know, it's a bullish market not a bear market, for God's sakes. So we had the Brahma Bull, we didn't have any bears having around there."

Ever since then, WWE stock has been publicly traded on the NYSE, and the company has been raking in record profits in recent years.

Meanwhile, The Rock went from being one of WWE's top Superstars with 10 world title reigns to arguably the biggest star in Hollywood.

It was apparent throughout his WWE career and during his appearance on Wall Street that The Rock was tailor-made for the glitz and glamor, and he has proved that during his acting career as well.

There has been speculation recently about The Rock returning to WWE to face his cousin, Roman Reigns, at next year's WrestleMania in Inglewood, California.

It would be a major challenge for The Rock to measure up to Reigns after so much time out of the ring, but it would undoubtedly be an easier fight for him than a tussle with a bear.

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