Dwayne Johnson, better known as “The Rock” from his professional wrestling days, is one of the greatest performers in the history of World Wrestling Entertainment. He, along with others such as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, helped the WWE survive and then win the Monday Night Wars that involved World Championship Wrestling as the opposition, and The Rock has since gone on to become an international superstar of the movie world. No wrestler in history, not even Hulk Hogan, has enjoyed so much success outside of the squared-circle as has The Rock, who still makes returns to the WWE from time to time.
The Rock is largely remembered for playing part in some of the more memorable feuds of the Attitude Era. His matches with Mankind were downright brutal, hard to watch in this day and age where we know far too much about the seriousness of head injuries. Those battles that featured The Rock and Austin are legendary over a decade after that feud wrapped up, as the duo helped propel each other to superstar statuses that made them arguably the two most important sports entertainers of the 1990s. Austin would have been huge without The Rock, no doubt, but “Stone Cold” would have only gotten so big without one of his biggest rivals being there.
The Rock remains known as “the most electrifying man in sports and entertainment,” and not only because of his stellar in-ring work. Johnson has, over the past two decades, had a unique ability to bring in-arena fans to their feet with his promos that he has cut on other wrestlers, on Vince McMahon or on other celebrities. North American pro wrestling has not since seen a performer of the caliber of The Rock, and some have stated that nobody will ever be able to equal what he contributed to the business. The Rock truly was the total package, which is why he is so beloved even though he stepped away as an active wrestler long ago.
20 Flex Kavana Debuts
This is the first of the unintentionally funny pro wrestling moments involving The Rock. Long before he became “The People's Champ” and the best entertainer in the business, Johnson was merely an athletic good-looking guy who was able to cut adequate promos on opponents. We are, because of the lack of technology at the time, unable to go back and watch Babe Ruth participate in Minor League Baseball. Wrestling fans can see the infancy of what became the career of The Rock, however, and doing so is nothing short of fascinating considering what that young man grew to become.
Cut to 4:40 to see Flex Kavana make his entrance.
19 Rocky Maivia Debuts
Long before he was raising eyebrows, dropping elbows and developing an electrifying personality, Johnson was Rocky Maivia, a smiling babyface who wore blue trunks and tassels – yes, tassels – to the ring. Maivia would have, in an earlier day, been a hit among crowds of adults and children alike, but he was perceived to be a joke and not much more when he made his debut at the 1996 Survivor Series. The Rock would, in storyline, go on to use that hate to his advantage, eventually turning on the fans that had turned on him and becoming the entertainer we know him to be today.
All in all, it's just funny to see Dwayne Johnson wrestle as somewhere other than "The Rock."
18 The Rock Calls Out Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels was sidelined because of a back injury when he returned to the WWE as the on-air commissioner of the company during The Rock's prime. The co-founder of D-Generation-X helped Triple H in a feud that included The Rock, and The People's Champ was not impressed with the actions of the Heartbreak Kid. Michaels had, in earlier promos, proclaimed that “the sheriff was back in town,” and The Rock had some words to say about that. Most notably, The Rock had some suggestions for what Michaels could do with his supposed cowboy hat and six-shooter.
17 The Rock vs. Stephanie 1.0
The Rock had plenty to say about Stephanie McMahon during her run with The Alliance that featured World Championship Wrestling and Extreme Championship Wrestling performers. After accusing Michael Cole of checking out the “People's Strudel,” The Rock called out Test and the woman who is now, in a current World Wrestling Entertainment storyline, part of The Authority. His to-be opponent on that night was, in his own words, “fast, easy and had no testicles.” To wrap things up, The Rock ended things with a short concert that provided one final dig at Ms. McMahon-Helmsley.
16 The Rock vs. HHH and Brock Lesnar
The WWE Champion at the time, The Rock took fans back in time to discuss how his feud with Triple H was one that had been brewing for generations. The two were, according to The Rock, feuding when they were babies, back during the Colonial times, and even back to when their ancestors were cavemen. The Rock guaranteed to “lay the smack down” on Triple H all over Norfolk, pausing to allow his devoted following to chant his name in the process. Rock then closed things out by having some choice words for Brock Lesnar, who was then known as “The Next Big Thing.”
15 The Rock Returns: November 2011
While The Rock made his name and his reputation for multiple clever one-liners, his ability to stand alone in the ring and keep fans captivated for long periods of time should not be overlooked. The Rock had the in-house audience hanging on his every word during a Raw segment that occurred in November 2011, until he was so rudely interrupted by, of all people, The Miz and R-Truth. Following a bit of verbal banter, The Rock, along with the help of new-found friend John Cena, cleaned house.
14 Rock Hits Out at Jeff Hardy
Before Jeff Hardy was a world champion in multiple promotions and also an international superstar, he was, in the eyes of The Rock, a fan looking to get a autograph from The Great One. Rock was not at all impressed with the younger Hardy brother, challenging the enigmatic wrestler to a match. Included in this segment is a throwback to a relationship that never, on the air, really materialized, one that has been rumored to have occurred behind the scenes when those two performers were with the WWE.
13 Rock vs. Cena
“So let me get this straight. The WWE has gone from the powerful 'Austin 3:16' to the dominant and iconic 'can you smell what The Rock is cooking?' all the way to...'you can't see me.'” It was the in-ring promo that wrestling fans who had, years ago, turned on superhero babyface John Cena had desired to see. Rock, as has often been the case when he has appeared on television, did not let his faithful supporters down, and he went on to put the leader of the Cenation down for the count during the first match involving the two all-time greats.
12 The Rock vs. Mankind in an Empty Arena Match
It takes two special performers to make an Arena Match work well, due to the fact that there are no fans to pop during high spots. The wrestlers involved have to be able to put on entertaining action and also cut in-match promos on their opponents from time to time. Rock and Mankind were perfect for a match that could have been an absolute on-air disaster, with Rock trash-talking his opponent throughout the encounter. The Rock was left looking at the lights when all was said and done, and he was even the consummate sports entertainer in defeat.
11 Rock's Concert in Sacramento
Fans attending the Raw event in Sacramento thought that they were getting an in-person concert from the Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment when Rock, playing the Hollywood superstar too big for the secondary-city, hit out at the city that he was looking forward to leaving. He promised to come back, however, when “The Lakers beat the Kings in May.” The Rock then, leading up to the final match involving the two legends of the business, called out Steve Austin, although it was Austin who would have the last laugh on that evening.
10 The People's Strudel
The Rock was the WCW champion when Lilian Garcia asked him about an upcoming challenge that involved Booker T and Shane McMahon as opponents. The Rock broke off on his own tangent, explaining that he knew just how Garcia felt about him. The People's Champ wasted little time on turning the tables on the interviewer once the truth came out, though, and Garcia became a secondary-figure as Rock called out both of the Alliance members during that promo that aired on SmackDown. For those wondering: Booker and Shane never had that baby.
9 The Rock Makes Friends
The Rock sure knew how to make friends via his words on the microphone, and that was again the case on the final Raw leading up to a Hell in a Cell match. After announcing his triumphant return to the state of New Jersey, Rock advertised just how dangerous the upcoming encounter would be for all involved. Rock then mocked Kurt Angle, Rikishi, The Undertaker, Triple H (uhhh) and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin as only he could, even daring to wear one of Austin's camouflage hats in the process. He may not have won the match, but nobody promoted it better than Rock.
8 But My Name's Billy
The Rock was seemingly in the middle of one of his standard top-tier promos when he uttered the words “Now, onto “Badass” Billy Gunn.” From there, Rock gave fans a peak behind the curtain at what may have been a prayer voiced up to the heavens by the wrestler who, in the eyes of the People's Champion, “absolutely sucked.” Rock even played the role of God himself, suggesting that the creator of the universe was not aware of who Mr. Gunn was. A throwaway segment on most nights, Rock turned what could have been a missable portion of television into a promo for the ages.
7 Y2J Debut
The WWE debut of Chris Jericho, who had defected from World Championship Wrestling, was billed to be a main event, one worthy of also featuring the most-popular wrestler in North America at the time. The Rock was, as one would guess, not all that wowed by the performer who had been called “The Millennium Man,” at one point asking just who it was that dared interrupt him. Jericho's introduction to the WWE audience was impressive, no doubt, but it was The Rock who stole the show during that Raw segement.
6 The Rock Takes on The Alliance
Now, in the PG era of World Wrestling Entertainment, such a segment would not even be considered, let alone actually make it on the air. That was not the case during the feud involving the WWE and the Alliance, when The Rock and Chris Jericho took to the stage to have some fun at the expense of Rhyno, Booker T and, most notably, Stephanie McMahon. It is a promo that is not safe for work, certainly not appropriate for all ages, and it is also, in the eyes of some fans, The Rock at his best.
Skip to 6:30 to see The Rock's awesome contribution.
5 The Rock vs. Hurricane
Of all of the feuds that The Rock has had during his Hall of Fame career, it is the one versus The Hurricane that was arguably his most entertaining, in terms of the feuds that had nothing to do with what occurred inside of the ring. The backstage promos involving the two made this feud one that lives on via the Internet, segments including Rock making fun of the supposed superhero and also Rock singing a song that is showcased later in this piece. Watch and wait for The Rock to demand that the fans stop cheering on who was, in that feud, the babyface.
4 The Rock vs. Cleveland
The Rock was all-in on his Hollywood character when he found himself stuck in Northeast Ohio for an edition of Raw. An ultimate entertainer, Rock picked up his guitar and lashed out at the city that has not won a pro sports title in over 50 years: “The Rock says Cleveland is totally lame. How did this dump get the Hall of Fame? The Rock has to say 'aw, shucks.' 'Cause Cleveland doesn't rock, no, it totally sucks.” Truth be told, you could flip No. 4 and No. 5 in this piece as you wish, although readers from the blue-collar city may not find so much humor in this selection.
3 This is Your Life
Depending on your view of this particular moment, it is either one of the peak's of The Rock's wrestling career or a segment that dragged on far longer than it should have on that night. Regardless, it remains the highest-rated segment in the history of the Raw program, one that crushed Nitro in the ratings and one that often gets replayed whenever the WWE plays all-time great highlights of Raw. The Rock strolled down Memory Lane that night thanks to Mankind, and it proved to be a memorable journey for the wrestlers and for everybody who tuned in to watch.
2 The Rock and Austin Sing
The go-home edition of Raw leading up to the merciful conclusion of the awful Invasion storyline involved The Rock and Steve Austin, on opposite ends of the coin on that night, standing inside of the same ring ready to rumble. Instead of challenging his rival to a fight, however, Austin chose to serenade Rock, and the WCW Champion returned in kind for a segment that was one of the most memorable in the history of the Raw program. This is pro wrestling, of course, so it had to end with one guy putting another down with a move, but it is the duet that lives on in the memories of fans.
1 The Rock Responds to DX
This segment is largely remembered for Triple H and D-Generation-X mocking The Rock and The Corporation, but the response was just as noteworthy. Shawn Michaels began the promo by cutting into who were, in storyline, his former friends, but The Rock had his moments when, after challenging Triple H to a match, he had a go at the competitors of the WWE. Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, the Macho Man Randy Savage and Bret Hart of WCW were all mocked by The Rock on that fateful night, and it offered proof of where those two wrestling federations were in the Monday Night Wars as of that evening.