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Dwayne Johnson

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Dwayne Johnson
Dwayne Johnson 2, 2013.jpg
Johnson at the Sydney premiere of G.I. Joe: Retaliation in March 2013
Born Dwayne Douglas Johnson
(1972-05-02) May 2, 1972 (age 45)
Hayward, California, U.S.
Alma mater University of Miami (BGS)
Occupation
  • Actor
  • producer
  • professional wrestler
Years active 1996–present
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Dany Garcia
(m. 1997; div. 2007)
Partner(s) Lauren Hashian
(2007–present)
Children 2
Parent(s) Rocky Johnson
Ata Maivia
Family Anoaʻi 'aiga
Ring name(s) Dwayne Johnson[1]
Flex Kavana[2]
Rocky Maivia[2]
The Rock[2]
Billed height 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)[3]
Billed weight 260 lb (118 kg)[3]
Billed from Miami, Florida[3]
Trained by Pat Patterson[4]
Rocky Johnson[5]
Tom Prichard[6]
Debut 1996[5]

Dwayne Douglas Johnson (born May 2, 1972), also known by his ring name The Rock, is an American actor, producer and professional wrestler. Johnson was a college football player for the University of Miami, where he won a national championship on the 1991 Miami Hurricanes team. After being cut from the Calgary Stampeders of CFL two months into the 1995 season, Johnson began training for a career in professional wrestling, following in the footsteps of various family members, including his grandfather and his father, Rocky Johnson, from whom he inherited Canadian citizenship in 2009.[7]

Widely regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time,[8][9][10] Johnson gained mainstream fame in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE) from 1996 to 2004 and was the first third-generation wrestler in the company's history, he returned to WWE part-time from 2011–13 and continues to make sporadic appearances for the company. In wrestling, Johnson's accomplishments including being an eight time WWF/WWE Champion, two time WCW/World Champion, two time WWF Intercontinental Champion and a five time WWF Tag Team Champion. He is the sixth Triple Crown Champion in WWE and won the 2000 Royal Rumble. Johnson's autobiography The Rock Says... debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times Best Seller list in 2000.[11][12]

Johnson's first leading film role was in The Scorpion King in 2002, for this, he was paid US$5.5 million, a world record for an actor in his first starring role.[13] One of his more prominent roles is Luke Hobbs in The Fast and the Furious franchise. Johnson hosted and produced The Hero, a reality competition series and has since continued to produce TV shows and films through his production company Seven Bucks Productions; in 2013, Forbes listed Johnson No. 25 in the Top 100 Most Powerful Celebrities and has been in the top twenty every year since.[14] He was the world's highest-paid actor of 2016.[15] Time named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2016.[16] In 2015, Muscle & Fitness named Johnson their "Man of the Century".[17]

Early life and football career

Dwayne Douglas Johnson was born on May 2, 1972 in Hayward, California, the son of Ata Johnson (née Maivia) and professional wrestler Rocky Johnson (born Wayde Douglas Bowles). His maternal grandfather, "High Chief" Peter Maivia, was also a wrestler, and his maternal grandmother, Lia Maivia, was one of wrestling's few female promoters, taking over Polynesian Pacific Pro Wrestling after her husband's death in 1982 until 1988.[18][19] Johnson's father is Canadian, a Black Nova Scotian, while his mother is of Samoan descent.[20][21] His father was part of the first black tag team to win the World Tag Team Championship in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).[22] Through his mother, he is considered a non-blood relative of the Anoa'i wrestling family.[23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30] His cousin, Savelina Fanene, is also a wrestler currently working for WWE.[31]

Johnson briefly lived in the suburb of Grey Lynn in Auckland, New Zealand with his mother's family,[32] he attended Richmond Road Primary School, before returning to the United States with his parents.[32] He spent 10th grade at President William McKinley High School in Honolulu, Hawaii. As he entered 11th grade, his father's job required his relocation to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where Dwayne began playing football at Freedom High School in the East Penn Conference.[21] He was also a member of the school's track and field and wrestling teams.[21]

Johnson was a promising football prospect and received offers from many Division I collegiate programs, he decided on a full scholarship from the University of Miami, playing defensive tackle. In 1991, he was on the Miami Hurricanes's national championship team.[33] When an injury sidelined him, he was replaced by future National Football League (NFL) star Warren Sapp.[21] While attending Miami, Johnson met his future wife, Dany Garcia, who graduated from the university in 1992 and later became a member of its Board of Trustees,[34] she also founded a Miami-based wealth management firm. In 2006, the couple donated $2 million to build a living room at the University's Newman Alumni Center.

Johnson graduated from Miami in 1995 with a Bachelor of General Studies degree in criminology and physiology,[35] he joined the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League in 1995. He was on the practice roster as a backup linebacker but was cut two months into the season.[21][36][37] On November 10, 2007, Johnson returned to the Miami Orange Bowl to participate in the festivities surrounding the University of Miami's last home football game at the stadium.

Professional wrestling career

Training (1995–1996)

Like his father and grandfather, several of Johnson's other (non-blood) relatives are or were professional wrestlers, including his uncles, Afa and Sika Anoaʻi (The Wild Samoans) and his cousins, Rodney (Yokozuna), Solofa (Rikishi), Matt (Rosey) and Eddie (Umaga).[32] When Johnson declared his intent to become a wrestler, his father initially resisted, but then agreed to train him himself, warning that he would not go easy on him.[21] Veteran wrestler Pat Patterson got Johnson several tryout matches with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1996. Under his real name, he defeated The Brooklyn Brawler at a house show[38] and lost the other matches to Chris Candido and Owen Hart.[32] After wrestling at Jerry Lawler's United States Wrestling Association as Flex Kavana[5] and winning the USWA World Tag Team Championship twice with Bart Sawyer in the summer of 1996, Johnson signed a WWF contract. He received additional training from Tom Prichard, alongside Achim Albrecht and Mark Henry.[6]

World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment

Intercontinental Champion (1996–1997)

Johnson made his WWF debut as Rocky Maivia, a combination of his father and grandfather's ring names, although his real name was acknowledged by the announcers,[39] he was initially reluctant to take this ring name but was persuaded by Vince McMahon and Jim Ross.[19][40] He was given the nickname "The Blue Chipper" and his lineage was played to on TV, where he was hyped as the WWF's first third-generation wrestler.[3] Maivia, a clean-cut face character, was pushed heavily from the start despite his wrestling inexperience, he debuted on Monday Night Raw as a member of Marc Mero's entourage on November 4, 1996[41] and had his first match at Survivor Series on November 17, in an eight-man elimination tag match; he was the sole survivor by single-handedly eliminating Crush and Goldust.[42] WWF fans generally rejected him because of his cheesy character,[43] on February 13, 1997, he won the Intercontinental Championship from Hunter Hearst Helmsley on Monday Night Raw.[44][45][46] Maivia successfully defended the title at In Your House 13: Final Four against Hunter Hearst Helmsley and at WrestleMania 13 against The Sultan, he defeated Bret Hart by disqualification in a title defense on March 31 episode of Raw is War.[47] On April 20 at In Your House 14: Revenge of the 'Taker, he lost to Savio Vega by countout, retaining the title for the final time. Audiences became increasingly hostile toward Maivia, with chants of "Die, Rocky, die!" and "Rocky sucks!" being heard during his matches.[2][5][19]

The Nation of Domination (1997–1998)

As part of the Nation of Domination, The Rock won the Intercontinental Championship for a second time and held it for 265 days

After losing the Intercontinental Championship to Owen Hart on the April 28, 1997 episode of Raw Is War[48] and suffering a legitimate knee injury in a match against Mankind,[2] Maivia returned in August 1997 and turned heel by joining Faarooq, D'Lo Brown and Kama in the stable called the Nation of Domination.[49] During this time, he refused to acknowledge the Rocky Maivia name, instead referring to himself in the third person as The Rock, though he would still be billed as Rocky "The Rock" Maivia until 1998, as The Rock, he insulted the audience in his promos as well as WWF television interviewers, once calling Kevin Kelly an "ugly hermaphrodite".[49]

At D-Generation X: In Your House, Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated The Rock in under six minutes to retain the Intercontinental Championship,[50] the next night on Raw Is War, Austin was ordered by Mr. McMahon to defend the title in a rematch, but forfeited it to The Rock instead, handing him the title belt before hitting him with the Stone Cold Stunner.[51][52] The Rock feuded with Austin and Ken Shamrock through the end of 1997 and beginning of 1998,[53][54] on the March 30 episode of Raw is War, The Rock debuted a new Intercontinental Championship belt which was used to represent the title until October 2, 2011, when the previous design was reused. Later that night, The Rock would also overthrow Faarooq as leader of the Nation of Domination to spark a feud between the two and successfully defended the Intercontinental title against Faarooq at Over the Edge: In Your House on May 31, 1998.[55]

The Rock and The Nation then feuded with Triple H and D-Generation X (DX), with the two stable leaders first meeting in the quarter-final of the 1998 King of the Ring tournament, which The Rock won. At King of the Ring, The Rock defeated Dan Severn in the semi-final match and lost to rival Ken Shamrock in the final, the Rock then resumed his feud with Triple H, as the two had a two out of three falls match at Fully Loaded: In Your House for the Intercontinental title, which The Rock retained in controversial fashion.[56] This led to a ladder match at SummerSlam, in which Triple H won the title,[57] at Breakdown: In Your House, The Rock defeated Ken Shamrock and Mankind in a triple threat steel cage match to become the number one contender for the WWF Championship. The Rock then feuded with fellow Nation member Mark Henry, effectively breaking up the stable.[58][59]

The Corporation (1998–1999)

As part of The Corporation, The Rock feuded with Stone Cold Steve Austin and stole Austin's personalized WWF Championship, the Smoking Skull belt

The Rock's entertaining promos and ensuing popularity led to a face turn, in which he called himself "The People's Champion", this led to a feud with Mr. McMahon, who said he had "a problem with the people" and would thus target "The People's Champion". A double turn occurred at Survivor Series, when The Rock defeated McMahon's associate, Mankind, in the finals of the "Deadly Game" tournament[60] for the vacant WWF Championship in a fashion reminiscent of the Montreal Screwjob.[60][61] The Rock allied with Vince and Shane McMahon as the crown jewel of their stable, The Corporation,[60][62] on December 13, 1998 at the pay-per-view named for him, Rock Bottom: In Your House, The Rock had a rematch with Mankind for the WWF Championship. Mankind appeared to win the match when The Rock passed out in the Mandible Claw submission move, but Mr. McMahon ruled that since The Rock did not tap out, he retained his title.[62][63]

The Rock continued to feud with Mankind over the WWF Championship, which was traded back and forth between them. First, in the main event of the January 4, 1999 episode of Raw Is War, Mankind defeated The Rock after interference from Stone Cold Steve Austin.[64] Then, in an "I Quit" match at Royal Rumble on January 24, The Rock regained the title, when a recording of Mankind saying "I quit" from an earlier interview was played over the PA system,[65][66] on Halftime Heat (an episode of Sunday Night Heat aired in the same timeslot as the Super Bowl XXXIII halftime show) on January 31, Mankind pinned The Rock using a forklift truck in an empty arena match.[67] The two faced off again at St. Valentine's Day Massacre: In Your House in a last man standing match which ended in a draw, meaning Mankind retained the title. Their feud ended on February 15 Raw Is War, when The Rock won his third WWF Championship in a ladder match after Big Show performed a chokeslam on Mankind off the ladder.[68][69] The Rock lost the WWF Championship to Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania XV.[70]

Though he was a villain, his amusing verbal skills led many fans to cheer The Rock, who then lost the title rematch at Backlash: In Your House[71] and was thus betrayed by Shane McMahon, turning him back into a fan favorite and beginning a feud with Triple H, The Undertaker and The Corporate Ministry that saw The Rock defeating Triple H at Over the Edge,[72] but then losing to WWF Champion The Undertaker at King of the Ring.[73] The Rock lost a number one contender's match to Triple H at Fully Loaded after interference from Mr. Ass.[74] This sparked a feud with Mr. Ass, culminating in a Kiss My Ass match at SummerSlam, which The Rock won.[75]

Record-breaking WWF/WWE Champion (1999–2002)

Toward the latter part of 1999, The Rock had several singles and tag team championship opportunities, teaming former enemy Mankind as The Rock 'n' Sock Connection after he challenged WWF Tag Team Champions The Undertaker and Big Show and Mankind offered his help,[76] they won the title for the first of three times.[77][78][79] The two performed numerous comedic skits together, including one on Raw Is War called "This Is Your Life" (based on the TV show), in which Mankind produced people from The Rock's past, such as his high school girlfriend and his high school football coach, the segment earned an 8.4 Nielsen rating, one of the highest ratings ever for a Raw segment.[77][80]

The Rock's popularity was fueled by his charisma and speaking abilities, which led to many catchphrases and merchandising opportunities

At Royal Rumble on January 23, 2000, The Rock entered the Royal Rumble match and was one of the final two remaining, along with Big Show; Show seemingly intended to throw The Rock over the top rope in a running powerslam-like position, but Rock countered the move on the ring apron, sending Big Show to the floor before re-entering the ring as the winner.[81] However, The Rock's feet hit the floor first, although those watching the event on TV did not see that, until Big Show proved this with additional video footage, and claimed to be the rightful winner, despite this proof, the original decision could not be reversed, so a number one contender's match for the WWF Championship was held at No Way Out, which Big Show won after Shane McMahon interfered and hit The Rock in the head with a steel chair as he attempted to execute a People's Elbow.[82] The Rock defeated Big Show on March 13 episode of Raw Is War to regain the right to face the WWF Champion, Triple H, at WrestleMania 2000 in a fatal four-way elimination match, also including Big Show and Mick Foley.[83][84] Each wrestler had a McMahon in his corner: Triple H had his wife, Stephanie, Foley had Linda, The Rock had Vince and Big Show had Shane.[84][85] Triple H retained the title after Vince betrayed The Rock by hitting him with a chair.[85][86]

The Rock as the WWF Champion in 2000

In the following weeks, The Rock continued his feud with Triple H and eventually won his fourth WWF Championship, which he won on April 30 at Backlash after Stone Cold Steve Austin intervened on his behalf.[87][88][89] On May 21 at Judgment Day, The Rock and Triple H faced in an Iron Man match with Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee.[90] With the score tied at five falls each and with seconds left on the time limit The Rock was disqualified when The Undertaker attacked Triple H, thus giving Triple H the 6–5 win and the title,[90] the next night on Raw Is War, The Rock got his revenge by taking out the entire McMahon-Helmsley Faction with The Undertaker's help.[91] The Rock won the WWF Championship for a fifth time at King of the Ring on June 25 by scoring the winning pin in a six-man tag team match, teaming with Kane and The Undertaker against Shane McMahon, Triple H and Vince McMahon, whom he pinned.[92][93] The Rock successfully defended the championship against Chris Benoit at Fully Loaded on July 23, Kurt Angle and Triple H at SummerSlam on August 27 and Benoit, Kane and The Undertaker at Unforgiven on September 24.[94]

The Rock lost the WWF Championship to Angle at No Mercy in October,[88][95] around this time, The Rock feuded with Rikishi and defeated him at Survivor Series.[88][96] The Rock wrestled a six-man Hell in a Cell match for the WWF Championship at Armageddon, which Kurt Angle won to retain the title,[88][97] on December 18 on Raw, The Rock won the WWF Tag Team Championship with The Undertaker, defeating Edge and Christian, then losing it back to them the next night at a SmackDown! taping.[88][98] In 2001, The Rock continued to feud with Angle over the WWF Championship, culminating at No Way Out in February, where he pinned Angle to win the WWF Championship for a sixth time.[88][99][100] The Rock then feuded with the Royal Rumble winner, Stone Cold Steve Austin, whom he lost the title at WrestleMania X-Seven after Austin allied with Mr. McMahon, who interfered on his behalf,[88][101] on the next night's Raw Is War, during a steel cage title rematch, Triple H came to the ring with a sledgehammer and it seemed he would help The Rock, because of the rivalry between Austin and Triple H (and an argument with McMahon earlier in the night), but he attacked him instead, allying with McMahon and Austin.[102] Austin and Triple H formed a tag team called The Power Trip,[103] while The Rock was indefinitely suspended. Johnson used this time off to act in the movie The Mummy Returns.[5]

The Rock taunting Rob Van Dam at ringside

The Rock returned to the WWF in late July 2001 and had to decide whether to join the WWF or The Alliance (a group of former WCW and ECW wrestlers) during The Invasion, eventually siding with the WWF.[88] At SummerSlam, The Rock defeated Booker T to win the WCW Championship.[88][104][105] He lost the title to Chris Jericho at No Mercy,[106][107] the next night on Raw, he teamed with Jericho to win the WWF Tag Team Championship from The Dudley Boyz.[108]

The Rock during WrestleMania X8 before facing "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan

The Rock defeated Jericho on November 5 episode of Raw for his second WCW Championship, which was renamed to World Championship,[109] as part of the WWF's battle against The Alliance, The Rock wrestled in a "winner takes all" ten-man elimination match at Survivor Series. In the end, it came down to a one-on-one with Steve Austin (who had recently joined The Alliance), the Rock seemed to have the upper hand, until Jericho (a member of Team WWF, who was eliminated a few minutes earlier), entered the ring and attacked The Rock. Austin tried to capitalize on this by pinning The Rock, but Kurt Angle, a Team Alliance member, revealed his true allegiance by hitting Austin in the head with a title belt, the Rock then pinned Austin, forcing The Alliance to disband.[88][110] The Rock closed out 2001 by losing the World Championship at Vengeance to Chris Jericho, who would unify the WWF and WCW titles later that night.[111]

The Rock unsuccessfully challenged Jericho for the now Undisputed WWF Championship at Royal Rumble,[112] but defeated The Undertaker at No Way Out.[113] Three weeks before WrestleMania, The Rock headlined WWE's Asian tour to Japan, Singapore and Malaysia, the first show was in Yokahama Arena and had sold 18,000 tickets in sixty minutes. Jericho, who was booked to face him for all three shows, said he brought out the best in him and described his reaction as "one of the loudest I'd ever heard in my career, it was as if Elvis had joined The Beatles and all of them were wearing Godzilla costumes".[114] He then feuded with the New World Order, after challenging Hollywood Hulk Hogan to a match at WrestleMania X8, the match was billed as icon versus icon, with both men representing the top tier of two generations of wrestling; ultimately Rock pinned Hogan at WrestleMania X8.[115] After the nWo turned on Hogan for losing the match, The Rock allied with him and was drafted to the SmackDown! brand, becoming the first WWF wrestler to be drafted in the WWF draft lottery before taking a short sabbatical from wrestling.[116]

When he returned, The Rock won his then record-breaking seventh WWF/WWE Championship (which had been renamed the WWE Undisputed Championship after the WWF was renamed to WWE in May 2002)[117] at Vengeance on July 21, defeating Kurt Angle and The Undertaker in a triple threat match.[117][118] The Rock successfully defended the title at Global Warning in Australia against Triple H and Brock Lesnar by pinning Triple H, who saved The Rock when Lesnar attacked him after the match,[119] at SummerSlam on August 25, after interference from Lesnar's manager Paul Heyman and the use of a steel chair, The Rock lost the WWE Championship to Lesnar along with the record for the youngest WWE Champion, which he had set in 1998.[120] Following the loss against Lesnar, The Rock publicly declared that whether or not the crowd booed him he would always be the People's Champion, criticizing the fans in the arena and again taking a sabbatical from wrestling in order to focus on his film career.

Final feuds and departure (2003–2004)

The Rock (right) defeated Stone Cold Austin in the latter's final match at WrestleMania XIX in March 2003

The Rock returned on January 30, 2003, episode of SmackDown! to publicly criticize Hulk Hogan and make it clear that because of the success of his Hollywood career, WWE was no longer a priority and thus reestablishing him as a villain for the first time since 1999.[121] Rock defeated Hogan again at No Way Out[88][122] and drafted himself to the Raw brand where he had various feuds, including one with The Hurricane.[123] He also performed "Rock concerts", segments in which he played the guitar and mocked the show's host city.[124]

After failing to win number one contendership for the World Heavyweight Championship, The Rock turned his attention to Steve Austin who, to The Rock's chagrin, had been chosen as "Superstar of the Decade", this led to a match at WrestleMania XIX, which called back to their previous two WrestleMania encounters, both of which Austin had won. The Rock won after delivering three consecutive Rock Bottoms, ending their long-running feud in what turned out to be Austin's final match,[88][125] the next night, Raw was billed as "The Rock Appreciation Night", in honour of his victory over Austin. That night, he was attacked by a debuting Goldberg, at Backlash, Goldberg defeated The Rock, who then left WWE as an active wrestler to focus on his film career.[88][126]

The Rock then occasionally returned to WWE in non-wrestling roles, gradually turning face again by engaging in one night feuds against heels such as Chris Jericho and Christian,[127][128] the Rock aided Mick Foley in his feud against Evolution,[3][88][129] leading to a reunion of The Rock 'n' Sock Connection. They faced Ric Flair, Randy Orton, and Batista in a handicap match at WrestleMania XX, losing when Orton pinned Foley after the RKO. It turned out to be Rock's last match for the next seven years,[88][130] the Rock appeared in WWE sporadically following WrestleMania XX. He stood up for Eugene, made a cameo in his hometown of Miami and helped Mick Foley turn back La Résistance.[2] Later in 2004, he hosted a pie-eating contest, as part of the WWE Diva Search and ended the segment by giving Jonathan Coachman a spinebuster and a People's Elbow,[2] after this, he stated in several interviews that he was no longer under contract to WWE.[2] He stated that he would continue using the trademarked name "The Rock", per a dual ownership deal between him and WWE.

Sporadic appearances (2004–2009)

On August 23, 2004, episode of Raw, The Rock returned and took out Jonathan Coachman and La Résistance; in October 2005, The Rock did a tell all interview with WWE.com, he talked his contract with WWE, movies and feelings on a dream match with Shawn Michaels.[131] On March 12, 2007, The Rock appeared on a WWE show after nearly three years, via a pre-taped promo shown during Raw, he correctly predicted that Bobby Lashley would defeat Umaga at WrestleMania 23 in Donald Trump and Vince McMahon's "Battle of the Billionaires" match.[132] On March 29, 2008, The Rock inducted his father, Rocky Johnson, and his grandfather, Peter Maivia, into the WWE Hall of Fame, during his induction speech, he roasted wrestlers John Cena, Santino Marella, Chris Jericho, Mick Foley, Shawn Michaels, and Stone Cold Steve Austin.[133] In September 2009, he appeared at a World Xtreme Wrestling (WXW) show to support the pro wrestling debut of Sarona Snuka, the daughter of his long-time friend and mentor Jimmy Snuka,[134] on October 2, 2009, the ten-year anniversary of SmackDown, The Rock (with his usual flattop hair shaved off) cut a promo via pre-recorded video.

Return to WWE

Feud with John Cena (2011–2013)

The Rock in the ring as host of WrestleMania XXVII in April 2011

On February 14, 2011, episode of Raw, The Rock was revealed as the host of WrestleMania XXVII, appearing live on Raw for the first time in almost seven years. During a lengthy promo, he addressed the fans, Michael Cole, The Miz and John Cena, calling Cena a "big fat bowl of Fruity Pebbles", inspiring a popular crowd chant and sign.[135] The Rock claimed to love wrestling, having been born into the business, a claim Cena argued,[136] after numerous appearances via satellite, The Rock appeared live on the Raw before WrestleMania XXVII to confront Cena, with whom he had been feuding through Twitter, making fun of Cena's clothing and calling him a "homeless Power Ranger" and "Vanilla Ice". After he and Cena exchanged insults, The Miz and Alex Riley appeared and attacked The Rock; he fended off Miz and Riley, only for Cena to blindside him with an Attitude Adjustment.[137]

The Rock (right) and John Cena on Raw, agreeing to a match at WrestleMania XXVIII one year in advance

On April 3 at WrestleMania XXVII, The Rock opened the show by cutting a promo, after appearing in numerous backstage segments, The Rock came to ringside to restart the main event between Cena and The Miz as a No Disqualification match, after it had ended in a draw. As revenge for the Attitude Adjustment Cena had given him on Raw, Rock hit Cena with the Rock Bottom, allowing The Miz to pin him and retain the WWE Championship. After the match, Rock attacked Miz and hit him with the People's Elbow,[138] the following night on Raw, Cena challenged The Rock to a match at WrestleMania XXVIII the next year, which Rock accepted. They then worked together to fend off an attack by The Corre, which at the time consisted of Wade Barrett, Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel, and Ezekiel Jackson.[139] The Rock appeared live on Raw in his hometown of Miami to celebrate his 39th birthday.[140]

The Rock celebrating his victory at WrestleMania XXVIII in April 2012

On September 16, WWE announced The Rock would wrestle in a traditional 5-on-5 Survivor Series tag team match, teaming with Cena at Survivor Series in November.[141] However, on the October 24th episode of Raw, Cena instead chose The Rock to be his partner in a standard tag team match against Awesome Truth (The Miz and R-Truth),[142] which Rock which agreed to the following week via satellite.[143] On November 14, during the special Raw Gets Rocked, The Rock appeared live, delivering Rock Bottoms to Mick Foley, who had been hosting a "This Is Your Life"-style segment for Cena, and later both members of Awesome Truth,[144] despite their rilvary, The Rock and Cena defeated Awesome Truth on November 20 at Survivor Series, when The Rock pinned The Miz with the People's Elbow. After the match, The Rock gave Cena a Rock Bottom.[145]

Leading up to WrestleMania, The Rock and Cena had several verbal confrontations on Raw,[146][147] on March 12, 2012, episode, The Rock hosted his first "Rock Concert" segment since 2004, mocking Cena in his songs. He opined that, having beaten Hulk Hogan and Stone Cold Steve Austin at previous Wrestlemanias, beating Cena would make him the greatest wrestler of all time,[148] on April 1 at WrestleMania XXVIII, The Rock faced Cena in the main event hyped for a year and billed with the tagline "Once in a Lifetime". When an overconfident Cena attempted the People's Elbow on The Rock, he countered with a Rock Bottom for the pin and the win,[149] the following night on Raw, The Rock praised Cena for putting up a good fight, calling their match "an honor". He then vowed to once again become WWE Champion.[150]

On July 23 at Raw 1000, The Rock announced he would face the WWE Champion at the Royal Rumble, during the show, he encountered WWE Champion CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and John Cena, all of whom expressed a desire to face him. He later saved Cena from an assault by Big Show, only to be laid out by CM Punk.[151]

The Rock revealing the brand new WWE Championship design in 2013

On January 7, 2013, Raw, The Rock returned to WWE to confront his Rumble opponent, then reigning champion CM Punk,[152] he also made his first SmackDown appearance in ten years on January 11 episode, attacking Team Rhodes Scholars with a Rock Bottom to Damien Sandow and a People's Elbow to Cody Rhodes.[153] The Rock closed out the 20th-anniversary episode of Raw on January 14 with one of his famous "Rock concerts", leading to a brawl with CM Punk,[154] the following week on Raw, The Rock was attacked by The Shield. Vince McMahon then asserted that if The Shield attacked The Rock in his title match with CM Punk, Punk would be stripped of the WWE Championship,[155] on January 27 at the Royal Rumble, Punk defeated The Rock after The Shield interfered. McMahon was about to strip Punk of the championship, however, at The Rock's request, he instead restarted the match, this culminated in The Rock defeating Punk to win his eighth WWE Championship, a win which marked The Rock's first WWE Championship reign in over ten years, and ending Punk's long reign as champion at 434 days.[156] Punk received a title rematch with The Rock at Elimination Chamber, with the added stipulation that if The Rock was disqualified or counted out, he would lose the title, but Rock pinned Punk to retain the championship,[157] the following night on Raw, The Rock unveiled the new WWE Championship during his championship celebration, with an entirely new center plate and his signature Brahma Bull logo on the side plates.[158] The Rock then resumed his rivalry with John Cena, with Cena blaming his personal and professional troubles on his loss to The Rock the previous year,[159][160] on April 7 at WrestleMania 29, Rock lost the WWE Championship to Cena, ending his reign at 70 days.[161] Despite being advertised for the Raw after WrestleMania, where it was stated by SmackDown General Manager Booker T that The Rock was still entitled a re-match for the WWE Championship,[162] The Rock did not appear because of a legitimate injury sustained during WrestleMania, in which his abdominal and adductor tendons tore from his pelvis.[163] Johnson underwent surgery on April 23 to reattach the torn tendons.

In August 2013, The Rock hinted at possible retirement but ultimately did not rule out a return.[164]

Part-time appearances (2014–present)

Hogan, Austin and The Rock at WrestleMania XXX in April 2014
The Wyatt Family confronts The Rock at WrestleMania 32

In April 2014, the Rock appeared in the opening segment of WrestleMania XXX along with Stone Cold Steve Austin and Hulk Hogan,[165] on October 6 episode of Raw, the Rock made a surprise appearance to confront Rusev and Lana; this resulted in the Rock clearing Rusev from the ring.[166]

The Rock appeared at the 2015 Royal Rumble event during the main event match, where he helped Roman Reigns fend off Big Show and Kane, and was booed ("for the first time in forever" (2003) as described by Dave Scherer of PWInsider.com) for doing so.[167] The Rock endorsed Reigns' eventual victory, but the crowd still booed both him and Reigns,[168][169] the Rock appeared at WrestleMania 31 alongside Ronda Rousey, getting into an in-ring altercation with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon (The Authority). Rock and Rousey prevailed after he attacked Triple H and she overpowered McMahon,[170] on June 27, The Rock appeared at a live event in Boston where he confronted Bo Dallas, giving him a Rock Bottom in the process.[171]

In January 2016, he returned to Raw in a segment which saw him diss Big Show, Lana and Rusev before getting into an altercation with WWE Tag Team Champions, The New Day, at WrestleMania 32, The Rock announced that WWE had broken the all-time WrestleMania attendance record before being interrupted by The Wyatt Family. The Rock defeated Wyatt Family member Erick Rowan in an impromptu match, giving him a Rock Bottom and pinning him in six seconds, which set the record for the fastest win in WrestleMania history, the Rock was then aided by the returning John Cena to fend off the remaining members of The Wyatt Family, Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman.[172] The Rock was announced as the executive soundtrack producer as well as the playable character for the WWE 2K18 video game on August 17, 2017.

Mainstream popularity in wrestling

The success of Johnson's wrestling character allowed him to cross over into mainstream pop culture, he appeared on Wyclef Jean's 2000 single "It Doesn't Matter" and in its music video.[173][174] He also recorded "Pie" with Slick Rick for WWF The Music, Vol. 5.[175] In 2000, he hosted Saturday Night Live.[176] Fellow wrestlers Triple H, The Big Show, and Mick Foley also appeared on the show.[3][177] Johnson has stated the success of that episode is the reason he began receiving offers from Hollywood studios.[178] Johnson had guest roles on Star Trek: Voyager, as an alien wrestler that uses The Rock's famous moves,[179] and on That '70s Show as his father, Rocky Johnson.

In 1999, The Rock was listed No. 5 on Entertainment Weekly's Top 12 Entertainers of the Year.[180] In 2000, on an Access Hollywood’s prime-time special, The Rock was ranked number six in the Top 10 Celebrities Of 2000.[181] Rock was also listed in Forbes Celebrity 100 that year and People Magazine's 25 Most Intriguing People.[182][183]

The Rock made a surprise appearance at the official Xbox unveiling during Bill Gates's keynote speech at the ongoing Computer Electronics Show in 2001.[184] Rock was also listed on E!'s 20 Top Entertainers[185] and Entertainment Weekly's 101 Most Influential People[186] that year and the previous year (2000).[187]

In 2002, Rock was listed on E!'s 25 Toughest Stars.[188] In 2003, he was listed in VH1's 200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons[189] and was No. 13 in People Magazine's 50 Favorite TV Stars.[190]

Johnson's motion picture debut was a brief appearance as The Scorpion King in the opening sequence of The Mummy Returns, the character appears in the movie's climax in CGI form.[3][176] The movie's financial success led to Johnson's first leading role, in the spin-off The Scorpion King,[3] he received US$5.5 million for the role[191][192] and was listed in the 2007 Guinness World Records as the highest-paid actor in his first starring role. The Mummy Returns, featuring The Rock, shattered a two-year record by earning $28,594,667, the highest-grossing single day for any film in history.[193]

The Rock has appeared on the covers of many magazines, including Rolling Stone,[194] Entertainment Weekly,[195] Newsweek,[196] and TV Guide.[197]

Legacy in wrestling

The Rock has been listed as one of the all-time greatest professional wrestlers[8][9][10] as well as one of the top box office draws in wrestling history.[198]

Hulk Hogan called The Rock "the biggest superstar in this business", and 16-time world champion John Cena described him as "the biggest superstar in the history of WWE".[199] In "Cable Visions: Television Beyond Broadcasting", The Rock was described as "for a long time, the WWE's biggest star and probably held the greatest international appeal".[200] R.D. Reynolds stated in his book "The WrestleCrap Book of Lists" that The Rock was "the biggest star for WWE from 1999 until 2004".[201]

Many wrestlers placed The Rock on their "Mount Rushmore of Wrestling" including Hulk Hogan,[202] Ric Flair,[203] Chris Jericho[204] and John Cena.[205]

The Rock main-evented the most bought pay-per-view (PPV) worldwide in WWE history (WrestleMania XXVIII),[206] the most bought pay-per-view (PPV) domestically in WWE history (WrestleMania X-Seven), the second highest attended event in the history of WWE (WrestleMania 29),[207] the highest rated Raw in history,[208][209] and was part of the highest rated segment in Raw history.[210] His return in 2001 did a 7.1 rating which was the highest rated segment of the entire year.[211] The Rock was also part of the highest-rated match of 2000, his steel cage match with Shane McMahon on May 1 did an 8.3 rating on the regular time and a 9.1 on the overrun making this match the most watched professional wrestling match in the United States of this millennium.[212]

In 2011, The Rock's return generated a lot of buzz, an average of 4.7 million people watched that episode of Raw, but 7.4 million tuned in just during The Rock’s promo.[213] His return also led the following episode of Raw on March 7 to be the highest rated episode of that year;[214] in that same year, The Rock wrestled his first match in years at 2011 Survivor Series in Madison Square Garden. The event sold out in less than 90 minutes,[215] the Rock was also part of the highest rated Raw segment in 2012 in a segment on Raw 1000 with CM Punk and Daniel Bryan which drew a 4.3 rating and was also part of the highest rated overrun of that year (4.4) the same night.[216] The night after the 2013 Royal Rumble on January 28 which saw The Rock win the WWE Championship for the first time in over a decade was the highest rated Raw episode of that year.[217]

Derived from one of his catchphrases "lay the smackdown", WWE introduced its second flagship program SmackDown! which later became television's second longest-running weekly episodic program.[218] The term "Smackdown" also has been included in Merriam-Webster dictionaries since 2007.[219][220]

The Rock was the first wrestler to win the WWF/E Championship six times,[221] then seven times.[222] Rock's Intercontinental Championship's reign in 1997–98 lasted 265 days and is the longest intercontinental title reign of the modern era (the last 24 years).[223] Rock is the only wrestler to introduce a different design of both the Intercontinental Championship (shortly after WrestleMania XIV) and the WWE Championship (on February 18, 2013 episode of Raw).[224]

The Rock also holds the record for most Raw shows main-evented in one year (38 in 2000),[225] most SmackDown shows main evented in one year (36 in 2000)[226] and tied with Stone Cold Steve Austin (in 2001)[227] for most PPV shows main evented in one year (12 in 2000).[228]

Acting career

Johnson during a photo shoot for Vanity Fair in 2001

Johnson acted on television while wrestling; in his first television acting job, in 1999, he played his own father in an episode of That '70s Show called "That Wrestling Show". Nearly a year later, he appeared in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Tsunkatse" as an alien wrestler who fought popular character Seven of Nine. While Johnson was away from WWE, the company continued to sell "The Rock" merchandise, and he continued to be featured prominently in the opening montages of their television shows.[32]

Johnson broke into the mainstream with roles in the blockbuster action films The Mummy Returns (2001), The Scorpion King (2002), the action comedy The Rundown (2003), and the remake of Walking Tall (2004). He played a supporting role in Be Cool (2005) and was the primary antagonist in Doom (2006). Roles in Gridiron Gang (2006) and Reno 911!: Miami (2007) soon followed. Johnson played against type in Southland Tales (2007), he played a cocky famous American football player in The Game Plan (2007) and Agent 23 in Get Smart (2008). He presented the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects at the 80th Academy Awards in February 2008.[229] He was nominated for the Favorite Movie Actor award at the 2008 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards for his role in The Game Plan but lost out to Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.[230][231]

Johnson hosted the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards on March 28, 2009, he appeared in the Cory in the House episode "Never the Dwayne Shall Meet".[232] and the Wizards of Waverly Place episode "Art Teacher" as part of his stint with The Walt Disney Company. He has made several guest appearances on Saturday Night Live, reviving his character of "The Rock Obama", a spoof and amalgamation of U.S. President Barack Obama and The Hulk.[233] Johnson played ex-con cab driver Jack Bruno in Las Vegas in Race To Witch Mountain (2009) and provided the voice of Capt. Charles "Chuck" Baker in Planet 51 (2009), he starred in the family comedy Tooth Fairy (2010) and made an uncredited cameo in Why Did I Get Married Too? (2010) as a psychiatrist who asks out a recently widowed character. He briefly appeared as an action-seeking detective in The Other Guys (2010) and returned to action films with Faster (2010).

Johnson appeared in Fast Five (2011), the fifth film of The Fast and the Furious film series, as DSS agent Luke Hobbs, who is assigned to hunt down the series' protagonists. He landed the role after series star Vin Diesel read comments and feedback from fans, the majority of whom wanted to see Diesel and Johnson in a movie together. Johnson, a fan of the franchise, had wanted to work with Universal Studios again after they had given him his first film roles. Fast Five grossed over $86 million in its opening weekend, the biggest opening for a Fast & Furious film, the biggest opening for an April release,[234] and the biggest opening for a Johnson movie.[235] Johnson starred in the adventure sequel film Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012) and headlined the action drama film Snitch (2013), based on a true story, which opened to mixed reviews; however, Johnson's performance was praised.

Johnson at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival

Johnson became known for reinvigorating film franchises after portraying Roadblock in G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013) and reprising his role as Luke Hobbs in Fast & Furious 6 (2013).[236][237] He also starred in true-story films Pain & Gain (2013) and Empire State (2013). That same year, he hosted and produced the TNT reality competition series The Hero,[238][239] he won the Favorite Male Buttkicker Award at the 2013 Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Awards.[240] In May 2013, it was announced that he would executive produce and star in Ballers,[241] an HBO comedy-drama series about NFL players living in Miami, Florida.[242]

Johnson starred as the title character in Hercules (2014)[243] and reprised his role as Luke Hobbs in Furious 7 (2015).[244] He hosted another reality series for TNT in 2014, entitled Wake Up Call, which saw him "lending a helping hand to everyday people who were facing enormous challenges in their lives" alongside guest experts such as Rocco DiSpirito, Jillian Michaels, and Josh Shipp.[245] It was announced that he would executive produce and star in the horror film Seal Team 666,[246] and is set to play Nick Schuyler in the drama film Not Without Hope,[247] on December 16, 2013, Forbes named Johnson the top-grossing actor of 2013, with his films bringing in $1.3 billion worldwide for the year. Forbes credited the success of Fast & Furious 6, which grossed $789 million globally, and Johnson's frequent acting work as primary reasons for him topping the list.[248]

In 2016, Johnson co-starred with Kevin Hart in the action-comedy Central Intelligence and had a lead voice role in the Disney animated film Moana, in which he voiced the Polynesian demigod Maui. He returned for the action film The Fate of the Furious, which was released on April 14, 2017.

Johnson's production company, Seven Bucks Productions, produces several of his starring film projects, including Baywatch (2017) and the upcoming Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)[249][250] and Rampage (2018).[251] A sequel to the box-office hit San Andreas (2015) was announced to be in the pre-production stage with director of the first film, Brad Peyton, signed to return (marking their fourth collaboration following Journey 2, San Andreas, and Rampage respectively), along with the cast (including Johnson).[252] Johnson confirmed that he would star in the new Jumanji movie via his Instagram page;[250] in an interview, Johnson also discussed the possibility of an earlier release date than was originally announced for the DC Extended Universe film, Shazam.[253] Seven Bucks Production is named because that's how much money he had in his wallet after he was cut from the CFL,[254] the company added two new entities to its portfolio, Seven Bucks Digital Studios in 2016 and Seven Bucks Creative in 2017.[255]

In March 2014, Johnson confirmed that he would be working with DC Entertainment for an untitled film project.[256][257][258] In September 2014, it was announced that he would play Black Adam, the villain, in a film about Shazam as a part of the DC Extended Universe; which he would also produce.[259][260]

Johnson has signed on to return in two additional sequels to Warner Bros.' Journey film series, as well as a Jungle Cruise feature film being developed by Disney.[261][262] In May 2016, Johnson confirmed his attachment to The Janson Directive as Paul Janson, the film will be produced by Universal Studios, with the intent to adapt more of Robert Ludlum's work in the future in a larger project than just the announced first installment.[263] Later that same month, it was announced that he would star in Legendary Entertainment's Skyscraper movie which will be an action-thriller film with Rawson Marshall Thurber signed on as director and writer. The same month it was announced that he would star as a rebooted version of the character Doc Savage in a film written and directed by Shane Black.[264] Johnson is signed on to film a remake of Big Trouble in Little China;[265] in July 2016, Johnson announced another television series which he will be involved in, named Muscle Beach, about the Southern California beach of that name. Johnson will be involved behind the scenes of the series.[266]

In January 2017, it was announced that Johnson's role as Black Adam for the DC Extended Universe will now include two separate film installments; the previously announced Shazam feature film, and an installment focusing on his anti-hero/villain character as well.[267] The following month, it was reported that he was also beginning work on a comedy film about a family of WWE fighters, titled Fighting with My Family;[268] in April 2017, Johnson's upcoming production schedule was announced that filming for Rampage had begun,[269] and that Jungle Cruise will begin filming in early 2018.[270] Johnson's role within the movie will also extend to the themepark ride, as Disney is reportedly in the process of redesigning it, with Johnson's input as well, the new layout will feature at all Walt Disney Parks and Resorts locations worldwide.[271] That same month, the first spin-off to The Fast and the Furious franchise was reported to feature Johnson and Jason Statham's characters teaming up for a mission with franchise screenwriter Chris Morgan signed on to write the script.[272] Several months later in July, it was revealed that Johnson will not appear in Shazam, but will remain attached as producer for the film.[273] October of the same year it was reported that Johnson's Fast and Furious spin-off will be released on July 26, 2019, while Fast & Furious 9 is slated for April 2020.[274]

Other work

In 2000 Johnson published his autobiography, which he co-wrote with Joe Layden, titled The Rock Says.... It debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times Best Seller list and remaining on the list for several weeks.[11]

On May 21, 2015, Johnson set a Guinness World Record for most selfies in three minutes, taking 105 selfies with fans during the premiere of San Andreas in London.[275]

In March 2016, Johnson partnered with the American fitness apparel manufacturer Under Armour to release "Project Rock",[276] the first item in his partnership with Under Armour, a gym bag, sold out in a couple of days.[277][278] His second item, a black T-shirt sporting the wrestler's iconic "brahma bull" sold out after being worn at WrestleMania 32.[279] Johnson also released an alarm clock app as part of "Project Rock" that received more than one million downloads in its first week of release;[280] in 2016, Johnson started a YouTube channel titled "The Rock" with the help of online personality Lilly Singh. His first video was called "The YouTube Factory" and featured several internet stars, he was featured in the site's yearly video series "YouTube Rewind" in 2016. [281] [282]

Activism and charity work

Johnson attended the 2000 Democratic National Convention[283] as part of WWE's non-partisan "Smackdown Your Vote" campaign, which aimed to influence young people to vote.[284] A supporter of the Republican Party at the time,[285][286] he had a speaking role at the 2000 Republican National Convention that same year.[287] In 2017, he told GQ Magazine that he was registered as an independent.[288]

In 2006, Johnson founded the Dwayne Johnson Rock Foundation, a charity working with at-risk and terminally ill children,[289] on October 2, 2007, he and his ex-wife donated $1 million to the University of Miami to support the renovation of its football facilities; it was noted as the largest donation ever given to the university's athletics department by former students. The University of Miami renamed the Hurricanes' locker room in Johnson's honor.[290]

Personal life

Dany Garcia and Johnson at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival

Because his mother, Ata Fitisemanu Maivia, is a descendant of Samoan chiefs, and in recognition of his service to the Samoan people, Malietoa Tanumafili II bestowed upon Johnson the noble title of Seiuli during his visit there in July 2004.[291] He received a partial Samoan pe'a tattoo in 2003.[292]

Johnson married Dany Garcia on May 3, 1997,[293] their daughter was born in 2001.[293] On June 1, 2007, they announced they were splitting up amicably and intended to remain friends.[293] Soon after the divorce, Johnson began dating Lauren Hashian, the daughter of Boston drummer Sib Hashian, they first met in 2006 while Johnson was filming The Game Plan, prompting rumors he left his marriage for Hashian.[294] Their first child, a daughter, was born in 2015.[294][295][296]

Filmography

Fast Five cast members promoting the film in Rio de Janeiro, from left: Johnson, Ludacris, Jordana Brewster, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker

Discography

Year Song Album
2000 "It Doesn't Matter" The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II a Book
2001 "Pie" WWF The Music, Vol. 5
2005 "You Ain't Woman Enough" Be Cool soundtrack
2010 "Wind Beneath My Wings" Tooth Fairy soundtrack
2012 "What a Wonderful World" Journey 2: The Mysterious Island soundtrack
2016 "You're Welcome" Moana soundtrack

In wrestling

The Rock hitting the Rock Bottom on Daniel Bryan during Raw 1000
The Rock preparing to execute the People's Elbow on John Cena during their match at WrestleMania XXVIII

Relatives in wrestling

Championships and accomplishments

The Rock is a ten-time world champion – an eight-time WWF/WWE Champion (in the picture) and a two-time WCW/World Champion

1 The Rock's seventh reign was as WWE Undisputed Champion.

Other awards and honors

See also

References

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