7. THE ROCK
Real Name: Dwayne Douglas Johnson
Aliases: Flex Kavana, Rocky Maivia
Hometown: Hayward, California
Titles Held: USWA World Tag Team Championship (2X with Bart Sawyer); WCW Championship (2X); WWF/E Championship (7X); WWF Intercontinental Championship (2X); WWF Tag Team Championship (3X with Mankind); (1X with The Undertaker); (1X with Chris Jericho)
Other Accomplishments: 2000 Royal Rumble Winner; Slammy Award for New Sensation; Sixth Triple Crown Champion; Observer Newsletterâ€™s Best Box Office Draw in 2000; Best Gimmick in 1999, Best On Interviews in 1999 and 2000, Most charismatic from 1999 to 2002, Most Improved in 1998; Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame Class of 2007; PWI Match of the Year in 1999 (vs. Mankind in an “I Quit” match); PWI Match of the Year in 2002 (vs. Hulk Hogan); PWI’s Most Popular Wrestler of the Year in 1999 and 2000; PWI Wrestler of the Year in 2000; PWI ranked #2 of the 500 best singles wrestlers of the year in the PWI 500 in 2000
Quite frankly, alongside Shawn Michaels, The Rock is my favorite professional wrestler. No man could quite so electrify a crowd, quite so bring millions of people to their feet, or quite so get those millions… and millions of people to chant his name simply by tilting his head to the side and wishing it so.
Born into a family of professional wrestlers, The Rock had plenty of time to learn the business. I think my favorite story of The Rock as a kid was that of the time he gave a piledriver to a fellow student in order to prove that professional wrestling was indeed real.
Originally born in Hayward, California, as a young boy and man, The Rock had already been accoustomed to traveling across the globe, living in places such as Auckland, New Zealand, Honolulu, Hawaii, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He joined the family business in 1995, being trained by his reluctant father. With help from Pat Patterson, The Rock had several try out matches before being signed for a short period to Jerry Lawler’s United States Wrestling Association, wrestling under the name “Flex Kavana”.
The Rock made his debut in the WWF under the name “Rocky Maivia” only to have the fans completely turn on him with “Die Rocky Die!” chants. God I loved those. I still remember being in awe at how much the crowd hated Rocky and how he just kept smiling at them like an idiot. It still makes me grin. It wasn’t until The Rock turned heel, joining the Nation of Domination, that he finally came into his own. His promo work was getting better day by day and I personally always enjoyed his work a lot more than that of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (who seemed to just say the stuff again and again). Yes, The Rock did repeat himself and his catch phrases, but he did a lot of funny and unique changes that still remain memorable today. In fact I still believe that without The Rock, there would be no “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Rocky was the perfect foil for Austin to play against and they complemented each other perfectly. Why else would these two guys faced each other three times at Wrestlemania?
In fact from all the wrestlers who have come and gone, if you were to hold a vote amongst the loyal wrestling fans as to who they would like to see return for one last match or program, The Rock would be near the top of the list, if not the top. A lot of people were reminded of how much they missed this legend when he gave his lengthy speech that inducted his grandfather into the WWE’s Hall of Fame. I know I did. Man I wish he was still around. I think my favorite memories of The Rock stem from his promos on Stephanie McMahon and HHH, when he was calling her a whore. Those were the days. Just awesome and hilarious promos that made me refuse to miss a single episode of Monday Night Raw.
The fact that The Rock is the only professional wrestler in the history of the WWE to have a show named after him and that says it all. Smackdown. What more could say how much a bigger role he played in the history of professional wrestling than that. In fact I still don’t believe that the company was ever able to recover from losing him. Orton seems to be coming into his own but he still seems unable to make us smile the way The Rock used to. They tried to mold Cena into a Rocky-variation and they might have succeeded if they hadn’t watered down the character for the debut of The Marine and he never recovered. Other than those two guys currently, they have literally no one who can entertain us the way The Rock could back then.
I think later in life The Rock will return to the ring in a manager role but never again in an in ring capacity and that really is a shame. I don’t think there was anyone who literally was quite as electrifying to watch in an in-ring capacity than when The Rock did his hope spots. I still remember being a kid and begging my parents to order the Rock vs. Mankind vs. Ken Shamrock PPV match and them making it clear that it just wasn’t happening. I also remember jumping with excitement the next day when I heard that The Rock had managed to pull out the victory. That was the kind of effect The Rock had on me and millions of other kids. It wasn’t that we loved The Rock. We wanted to be him. Hell I still want to be him…. Don’t you?
The entire Top 100 Wrestlers feature can be found here.