Everyone has that one thing from their childhood that has stuck with them and for me, that’s my first hero: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Ever since I first heard the trademark phrase “IF YOU SMELLLLL WHAT THE ROCK IS COOKIN’!” I looked up to him. He was funny on the microphone, fought with a certain type of charisma and power in the ring and had control of the audience like no one else.
I’ve watched hours upon hours of The Rock’s matches and when he won the WWE Undisputed Championship back in July of 2002, I listened to it live through my cousin’s static filled TV I’ll never forget jumping for joy when I heard that my favorite wrestler had successfully won the WWE’s top title and disturbing my parents and cousins while they were trying to sleep. Another one of my favorite moments watching him live was the episode of Monday Night RAW right after WrestleMania 27 when he stared John Cena down and agreed to wrestle him a year from then at WrestleMania 28. It was truly a moment that spaned generations of wrestling fans.
It wasn’t just his moments in the ring that I was excited about but the moments where he made me burst out laughing. Whether it was torturing his boss, Vince McMahon, Owner of WWE, making fun of other superstars such as Chris Jericho, Triple H, The Undertaker or Stone Cold Steve Austin or saying some of his famous phrases, The Rock was and still is golden on the microphone. He could make the audience cheer, boo and yell profanities no matter what city or country he was in.
He was a mainstay in the WWE from 1996 till 2003. He is a third generation superstar. His father, Rocky Johnson, was a wrestler as was his grandfather, High Chief Peter Maivia. In his time within the company he pushed it to new heights during the famed attitude era of the late 1990s and early 2000s. His feuds with Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H. The Undertaker, Mankind and others are the epitomy of what wrestling feuds strive to be. His segment with Mankind, titled “This is your Life,” is one of the highest rated segments in the history of Monday Night Raw.
The WWE show, SmackDown is named after one of The Rock’s most famous phrases where he tells an opponent he will Layeth the Smackdown on their Candy Ass.
During his WWE career The Rock dabbled in acting, appearing in movies such as “The Mummy Returns,” and “The Scorpion King” as well as making appearances on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.” He also appeared in rapper Method Man’s music video for his song, “Know Your Role.”
After 2003, The Rock began to fully focus on his Hollywood career but made sporadic appearances in the WWE. He’s gone on to star in blockbuster franchises such as “G.I. Joe,” and “Fast and Furious” and other movies such as “The Game Plan,” “Gridiron Gang,” “Walking Tall,” and “Hercules.” He’s also starring in the upcoming disaster film “San Andreas.” He returned to the company for a three year time period (2011-2013) where he feuded with wrestlers John Cena and CM Punk.
He is considered to be one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. In his time with the company, The Rock won 17 championships. He is a ten-time world champion, winning the WWE title eight times and the WCW championship twice. He was the first man to hold the WWE title on seven separate occasions. The Rock is also a two-time WWE Intercontinental Champion, five time WWE Tag Team Champion and won the Royal Rumble Match in January of 2000. He has also headlined WWE’s signature event, WrestleMania, five different times. Not many wrestlers have had success anywhere close to The Rock’s.
Even though The Rock has fully moved on to movies now, I’ll never forget the impact he had on my childhood and the moments that made me smile. He was my first hero, the first person who taught me never to take shit from anybody and to always approach a situation without fear and to do all you can to come out on top. Whenever he makes appearances now, the child in me still smiles and I “mark out,” which in normal terms means I act like a maniac and jump up and down and yell uncontrollably.
Now, as a 21-year-old young adult, I still hope to meet him someday and tell him all he’s done for me, thank him for being the first person I looked up to and for entertaining me like no one else has. I know the chances are slim and I know it’ll most likely never happen but hey, a guy can dream, right? If you ever read this Rock, I just have one simple thing to say: Thank you.