Ranking The Rock's Greatest Moments During WWE's Attitude Era

Donald Wood@@Donald_WoodFeatured ColumnistMay 2, 2020

Ranking The Rock's Greatest Moments During WWE's Attitude Era

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    Evan Agostini/Associated Press

    When talking about which wrestlers would be on the Mount Rushmore of wrestling during the Attitude Era, one of the first names mentioned is Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

    While The Rock has transcended the sport and become one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood, his impact on the business between December 1997 and June 2002 is still regarded as one of the most important in wrestling history.

    From being part of one of the highest-rated television segments in WWE history to fighting multiple legends at WrestleMania in matches that are considered among the greatest of all time, The Rock was the Attitude Era.

    On his 48th birthday, let's celebrate The Rock by highlighting his most significant moments from wrestling's wildest time.

5. Halftime Heat

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    Instead of watching the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXIII, wrestling fans turned the channel to USA Network and watched the inaugural edition of Halftime Heat, featuring an empty-arena match between The Rock and Mankind for the WWE Championship.

    The Rock and Mankind had one of the fiercest feuds of the Attitude Era and the Super Bowl spectacular helped earn WWE an impressive 6.6 television rating, per Raj Giri of Wrestling Inc. The two men fought inside an empty Tucson Convention Center as a way to avoid spoilers from getting out since the match had been taped before an episode of Raw.

    The brawl featured The Rock taking a phone call mid-fight, Mankind getting spicy salsa thrown in his eyes and the two men generally smashing each other with everything that wasn't nailed down.

    By the end of the spectacular, The Rock took the loss and put over Mankind in a big way. Despite the overwhelmingly positive reviews and the ratings success, WWE followed it up in 2000 with a highlight show and a "Stone Cold" Steve Austin interview.

4. Icon vs. Icon at WrestleMania X8

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    When The Rock stood toe-to-toe with Hollywood Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania X8, the reaction from the WWE Universe was one of the loudest in history. As the two legends stared at each other and then out into the crowd, the moment felt almost surreal.

    The match began with both men being cheered. Midway through the contest, The Rock decided to act like the heel, paving the way for the classic Hogan babyface comeback.

    The back-and-forth in the match had fans biting on each false finish.

    Eventually, it was The Rock who earned the win with his signature People's Elbow, but it was the post-match celebration and reaction from the crowd that makes this match from 2002 not only one of The Rock's greatest moments but also one of the best in wrestling history.

3. Rock Goes Corporate

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    One of the most shocking moments of my childhood came at Survivor Series 1998 during the final of the Deadly Game tournament to crown the new WWE champion.

    After turning face and being embraced by the fans, The Rock was one of the hottest commodities in wrestling thanks to his charisma and catchphrases and was feuding against Vince McMahon and The Corporation.

    At Survivor Series, the odds were stacked against The Rock, but as the People's Champion turned Mankind over in the Sharpshooter, McMahon called for the bell in a repeat of the Montreal Screwjob.

    McMahon did it again and cemented The Rock as the corporate champion.

    After two years of hard work, character changes and building a reputation, The Rock spectacularly earned his first world title. The backlash against him following the win helped to cement him as a cornerstone of the Attitude Era.

2. Top Dogs Battle at WrestleMania X-Seven

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    In what is widely considered the greatest wrestling event in history, The Rock defended his WWE Championship against Royal Rumble winner "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in arguably the best match on the WrestleMania X-Seven card.

    The Rock shone brightest on the biggest stages.

    In addition to the fact that the two of the biggest names in wrestling were going head-to-head, the storyline called for Mr. McMahon to be a thorn in Austin's side, assigning Stone Cold's then-wife, Debra, to be The Rock's manager.

    Austin and The Rock put on a great show, but it was McMahon's involvement and Stone Cold's heel turn that has helped this match live forever. Austin hit The Rock with 16 chair shots and celebrated with a beer bash standing hand-in-hand with the WWE CEO.

    After WrestleMania X-Seven, the WWE Universe was squarely in The Rock's corner again. The build to the bout was a textbook back and forth that culminated at the biggest show of the year.

1. This Is Your Life!

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    While unlikely bedfellows, The Rock and Mankind proved to be one of the best tag team combinations in wrestling history, and no segment exemplified their relationship more than "This is Your Life!"

    On the September 27, 1999, episode of Monday Night Raw, Mankind wanted to make the Pete Dunne to his Matt Riddle feel special after The New Age Outlaws took The Rock 'n' Sock Connection's Tag Team Championships.

    Using a multitude of people from The Rock's past, including his elementary school teacher, a former coach and his high school sweetheart, Mankind set the stage for the classic one-liners that made this segment so memorable.

    Mankind allowing The Rock to vent his frustration at figures he held grudges against built a stronger bond between the men and helped them to win back the tag titles. The team fell apart rather quickly thereafter, but the mark they left on the business is undeniable.

    The This is Your Life segment garnered an 8.4 rating, per WhatCulture, making it one of the highest-rated television segments in WWE history.