Love him or hate him, The Rock has definitely earned the moniker of The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment. While his 1996 debut wouldn’t receive the success it was expected to, the third-generation superstar would go on to receive massive acclaim from generations of fans worldwide.
While The Rock has done some great things in the ring to earn his status with the WWE fanbase, he hasn’t always been on the right side of things on screen. Whether because he duped fans, potentially harmed other competitors, or his character pulled the ring out from under our feet, here are the ten worst things The Rock did during his time in professional wrestling.
10 The Chair Shots
Few things could be worse than risking a legitimate injury to another competitor in the ring, and that’s exactly where this list will begin.
Royal Rumble 1999 saw The Rock challenge Mankind to an I Quit match for the WWF Championship. While the match served as a fantastic continuation to the feud between the two, it ended in poor fashion for a couple of reasons.
First was the issue of Mick Foley not actually saying the words “I Quit.” His loss in the match was the result of a taping being played of Foley stating the words from previous programming. From a story perspective, this shouldn’t have qualified at all. What was worse were the chair shots leading up to this.
To close out the match, The Rock would hit Mankind with at least ten unprotected chair shots to the head. Foley has stated in multiple forums that he fears this caused him a concussion, and worries about the long term effects. This act alone was wholly horrible and would not stand on the current product.
9 Going Corporate
While the feud with Mankind saw The Rock commit an absolute atrocity in the article above, the whole storyline involving Rock going corporate to begin with was a wholly dirty move.
After his initial failure to gain traction with fans, The Rock turned heel as a member of The Nation of Domination. While performing as a member of The Nation, Rocky would receive a massive pop from fans and see a temporary face turn which spawned the moniker of The People’s Champion.
While Rock executed this role flawlessly, turning his back on the fans was an extremely dirty move which no one saw coming.
8 Burying the Wyatt Family
To say that The Rock was solely responsible for this one would be an exaggeration. But he played a part.
At Wrestlemania 32, The Rock would show up as a guest to brag about the new attendance record. During the event, rather than put over an up-and-coming talent, Rock would engage in a squash match against Erick Rowan before fending off the entire Wyatt Family with the aid of John Cena.
It’s actually fitting that Cena played a part in this considering how much damage he did to Wyatt’s credibility. This event may not have singlehandedly buried the faction, but it was just another in the long line of contributing factors to his initial failure.
7 His First WWF Championship
A second entry from the 1998 rivalry between The Rock and Mankind features his entry into The Corporation. At Survivor Series 1998, The Rock would defeat Mankind for his first WWF Championship by recreating the infamous Montreal Screwjob.
In mirroring fashion, Rock would lock in a Sharpshooter at the end of the match. Vince would call for the bell at ringside, declaring Rock the winner. Not only was this a tasteless recreation of one of the worst events in WWE history, it was a move which would set The Rock in opposition of the fans for months to come.
6 Company Man
With the possible exception of his rivalry with Mick Foley, The Rock never enjoyed a back and forth with anyone which compared to his bouts with Stone Cold Steve Austin. If anything, Austin was the one responsible for lending his talent to the success of The Rock.
The two had some great bouts with one another over the years. This fact makes it more disappointing that Rock would speak so poorly about Austin while he was having issues with the company in 2002. Discontent with dropping the title to Brock Lensnar, Austin would leave WWE that year, leaving The Rock to disparage his name and insult his legacy in the aftermath.
5 The Rock’s Concerts
Beginning in 2004, The Rock would periodically perform in-ring segments where he brought a guitar and sang songs which largely focused on making fun of rivals and fans. The segments weren’t played up to the extent of modern Elias segments, but they offered a fair amount of comedic value at the expense of other performers.
Noteworthy among his performances were concerts where Rock insulted John Cena and Stone Cold Steve Austin. On the darker side was a particular performance where Rock insulted Vickie Guerrero based on her looks. In all cases, this segment would never be welcomed on the current product.
4 Once in a Lifetime
The Rock and John Cena at Wrestlemania XXVIII was billed as “Once in a Lifetime,” implying that the two would only face once and that the event would never occur again. But it did. It happened again one year later, to be exact, at Wrestlemania 29 for the WWE Championship.
What makes this so wrong is that this match was never planned to only occur once. Both participants have admitted that additional matches were originally planned when the “Once in a Lifetime” designation was offered. While The Rock has been notorious for misleading fans, this entry marked a new low.
3 The People’s Elbow
How did such a monumental personality in professional wrestling have such a substandard finishing maneuver? At its core, The People’s Elbow is nothing more than an exaggerated elbow drop with lots of theatrics and an opportunity for the crowd to react.
Mick Foley said it best in preparation to their number one contender match at Breakdown: In Your House, when he called the move an “abortion” which he refused to sell. While the move was flashy, it is such a joke that it found traction with the fans, we can hardly believe it’s still a discussion.
2 Abandoning WWE
No, we aren’t talking about his exit from WWE for Hollywood here. We’re talking about the buildup to it.
Prior to his official departure, The Rock began appearing on WWE programming sporadically as he was working on firing up his acting career. During this time, he would periodically perform high profile, main event matches. He always maintained his status as a top talent.
Ironically, this routine would play a central part in his 2011 feud with John Cena, leading Cena to criticize The Rock for being too busy for WWE.
1 Taking the Title from CM Punk
In January 2013, during one of his appearances, The Rock would engage in a rivalry with CM Punk for the WWE Championship. The Rock’s return during this tenure began in July 2012 and ended in April 2013. During his time back, he would have several strong showings against young talent and ultimately take the WWE Championship at the 2013 Royal Rumble.
The Rock retained his title at Royal Rumble and would go on to drop the belt to John Cena at Wrestlemania that year. Not only did his part-time status diminish Punk’s reign, he gained nothing from serving as a transitional champion, and robbed fans of a bout between Cena and Punk in April.